Every so often, a new-to-me food comes along and I think “HOW DID I NOT KNOW THIS EXISTED?”. As someone who prides herself on a well-rounded knowledge of most comestibles, I find it somewhat inexcusable that until very recently I was unaware of the best cut of meat to happen to pork eaters since bacon: the bacon chop.
Little more than a long shoulder-cut pork chop, bacon chops retain the pork belly meat and this simple slight of the knife makes all the difference. Think of a bacon chop like a mullet: business, or standard chop, in the front; and party (belly, aka uncured bacon) in the back.
Growing up, I’d help my mom make Shake ‘n Bake pork chops. Remember the jingle ‘It’s Shake ‘n Bake, and I helped!’? I remember. I remember pork chops that were usually dry and required lots of apple sauce for flavor and moisture. Thanks to fears of trichinosis and the lean nature of this particular cut, many people overcook pork chops and find them both dry and in need of some sort of sauce.
I’m never one to turn down a good sauce, dip, or spread, but bacon chops require little more than a good sear in a hot pan and a quick turn in the oven. Let me be clear about one thing: eating a bacon chop requires you to think very little about the fact that you’re eating pork fat as a main course. It can be a difficult concept to accept logically, so I suggest you don’t think about it in the first place!
Plus, bacon chops are rich. A one-pound bone-in chop was plenty for two of us, with a few slices left over for nibbling from the fridge the next day. I put out a smoky chipotle sauce for dipping, but we left it practically untouched as we speared fatty, crispy slices of pork from the skillet. Under the guise of drying the dishes George was dutifully washing, I managed to find time to gnaw on the meaty bone like a ravenous dog that had not, in fact, just eaten over a 1/3 pound of pork chop and belly.
There’s not a lot of information on bacon chops out there, so consider this post somewhat of a public service announcement. Bay Area denizens, check out Prather Ranch for a reliable source of bacon chops. All others, try a local butcher shop. If they don’t routinely offer this cut, there’s a good chance they’ll cut a couple for you if you ask. Then they’ll thank you for rocking their world. In advance, you’re welcome.