Simple yet delicious way to prepare tender and flavourful pork chops
We feel that we need to apologize. Close to 300 recipes later, we still haven’t shared what is probably one of the most popular family meals in many Greek homes. Yikes! What were we thinking? (Well, we guess we were thinking about moussaka, youvetsi and baklava…but still!)
Growing up we ate a lot of pork chops, called hoirino bridjoles, (or brizoles) in Greek. The word bridjola actually means steak, and can be either pork or beef. However, in our home, if our mom said we were having bridjoles, we automatically knew she was referring to pork chops. Steak from beef was simply called steik!
The reason that bridjoles were so popular is simple. This was always an affordable cut of meat, easy and quick to cook up, and versatile; there are so many ways to prepare bridjoles, and we can’t wait to share them all with you. But today, we’ll start with this recipe. Pan-fried pork chops require few ingredients and are incredibly delicious; the meat is tender and flavorful.
Pork is quite a popular meat choice in Greece, consumed more often than lamb and beef. Our maternal grandfather was known across many villages for his ability to safely and efficiently castrate male pigs; an important skill. Uncastrated males, called boars, can be aggressive. Also, some boars produce “boar taint” when they have reached sexual maturity. Although this does not affect the safety of the meat, it does change how the meat smells and tastes resulting in a “muskiness” which can be unpleasant. Our grandfather and his brother learned how to perform this surgery from their father, who had learned it from his father. This skill served the family well as individual farmers often raised pigs for meat and needed their expertise. Our mother remembers her father and uncle sometimes travelling for days as they went from village to village helping farmers with the raising of their pigs.
Our parents did not usually serve bridjoles for company, although we think that they certainly could have. Instead this was a common weeknight meal for our immediate family. Bridjoles were also occasionally served as a substantial lunch on the weekend, when dinner was planned to be only a simple Greek salad. Whenever these pan-fried bridjoles were served they were best eaten with some feta, olives, and greens such as horta or vlita. So much goodness, and so much history, on one plate!
Can I use boneless pork chops for this recipe instead?
We actually don’t recommend that you do. There are a couple of reasons to choose bone-in pork chops, particularly when they are going to be pan-fried. First, the bone helps the meat cook more slowly which, allows for better control when cooking so that your pork does not overcook and dry out. Also, we find that pork chops with the bone are just tastier; this may be because they tend to have a little more fat (you can easily cut away any excess fat if you like).
Our parents like to buy the shoulder cut pork chops. It’s a more tender cut.
Why should you keep the seasoned pork at room temperature for about 15 minutes before cooking it?
A pork chop straight from the refrigerator won’t cook evenly. The outside of your chop will fry up beautifully, while the inside has still not reached the ideal (safe) temperature because it started off too cold. By the time the interior of your chop is cooked, the outside will likely be overcooked. Use the time that the pork chops are coming to room temperature to prepare a salad, like this fennel salad, to serve with your meal.
Is pork only safe to eat when it is well done?
The safe temperature for pork is 145 degrees Fahrenheit, so cook your meat until a meat thermometer registers 135 degrees Fahrenheit and then remove it from heat and let it rest for a few minutes. During the resting the pork will continue to cook and the residual heat will bring your chop up to 145 degrees Fahrenheit. At this point it is safe to enjoy.
The way you cook your pork beyond the 145 degrees Fahrenheit however is really a matter of preference. Our parents always cook pork through, so that there is no pink remaining. We tend to prefer our pork medium to medium-rare. Because of this variation in tastes, the cooking time in the recipe below is given as a range.
What is Montreal steak spice?
Montreal steak spice, sometimes called Montreal steak seasoning is a mixture containing garlic, coriander, black pepper, Cayenne pepper flakes, dill seed and salt. It has a lovely backstory. Those of you who are familiar with Montreal (those of you who aren’t, when it’s safe to do so, come visit!), know that one of the things Montreal is most known for is our smoked meat. According to rumour and local lore, sometime in the 1940s or 1950s, a broilerman working at one of the most famous Montreal deli’s began adding the smoked meat pickling spices to his own ribs and steaks. Customers soon started asking for the same and because of its deliciousness, Montreal steak spice became a staple in delis and steakhouses across the city.
Today you can find many brands of Montreal steak spice at most well stocked supermarkets. You can also purchase it online. If you can’t find it however, here’s a recipe so that you can make your own, based upon a recipe found on wikibooks.
Montreal steak spice:
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 4 teaspoons coarsely ground coriander seeds
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 4 teaspoons dill seeds
- 4 teaspoons paprika
- 4 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
- 4 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper
- Mix all ingredients together and store in an airtight container for several months. You can use Montreal steak spice to season steaks, these pork chops, and even our pork souvlaki.
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Pan-fried pork chops (Χοιρινές μπριζόλες στο τηγάνι)
- large frying pan (large enough to hold 4 pork chops at once)
- 4 bone in pork chops preferably shoulder cut
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp Montreal steak spice
- 1 tbsp dry oregano
- vegetable oil for frying
- 1/4 cup red wine
- 1/2 lemon
- Season both sides of your pork chops with the salt, Montreal steak spice, and dry oregano. Set aside for 15 minutes at room temperature.
- Pour enough vegetable oil in your frying pan so that there is 1/4 inch of oil in the frying pan. Heat pan over medium high heat.
- Add the pork chops to your pan (there is no need to wait until your oil is hot) and then pour in the red wine.
- Cook, uncovered for 5 - 10 minutes and then turn your pork chops over and cook for an additional 5 - 10 minutes.
- When ready, transfer the pork chops to a serving platter and squeeze the juice of half a lemon over them. Allow to rest for approximately 3 - 5 minutes.
- Serve with sides such as vegetables and rice and enjoy!