On May 24, 2011, the U.S. Department of Agriculture released new food safety guidelines for cooking pork and a 15-degree amendment to the recommended internal temperature made it officially acceptable to enjoy perfectly pink pork. For those of us who had been surreptitiously enjoying medium-rare chops for years, it was a red-letter day. Finally, we could shout our message of tender, juicy, trichinosis-free pork from the rooftops!
But it’s been over a year now, and people still blanch at the slightest blush. So, here’s my plea -- the next time you’re cooking a whole muscle cut, like a chop, loin or roast (ground pork should still be cooked to 160 degrees), keep a meat thermometer handy and pull that pork off the heat when it reaches 145 degrees. The new white meat’s gone pink and it’s good.
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Pork Chops with Cherry and Feta Salad
4 bone-in pork chops
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
Salt and pepper
1-1/2 cups pitted cherries, halved
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
Salt and pepper
- Brush the pork chops on both sides with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Cook chops on a grill or grill pan, over medium-high heat, until a thermometer inserted near, but not against, the bone registers 145 degrees, about 5 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of the chops. Transfer pork chops to a plate and tent with foil; let rest for 3 minutes.
- Meanwhile, toss the cherries with the feta, rosemary and grated lemon peel; season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon the cherry mixture over the chops and drizzle with olive oil before serving.
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