Robert McGee, who runs The Whole Ox Deli, really wanted to open a butcher shop. He’s started with a deli where he serves THE BEST hamburgers (made from aged local beef) and has just started offering fresh butcher cuts of local meats on a limited basis. Bob says that the selection will vary based on what he happens to have lots of at the deli on any given day. Follow him on Twitter @WholeOxDeli to find out what’s available.*
The meat master himself gave us a personal showing of the wares for the day. On the afternoon we visited, he had Double Bone-in Center Cut Pork Chops from Malama Farm on Maui. They raise hormone-free Berkshire pigs that get to run around in pastures and eat all kinds of goodies, like fruit and macadamia nuts. I think they lead a cushier life than I do. Well, up to the point where, uh, we eat them. But at $18/lb., this isn’t your ordinary supermarket on-special pork, and, as Bob says, “Not for everyone.” For us, buying local meat is a priority; we like knowing where it came from, and there aren’t any nasty factory farms here, so we feel much more comfortable about how the animals were raised. It’s hard—pretty much impossible, in fact—to find local pork in the markets here, so we snapped up a two-pound slab of oink.
Eeeet’s ginormous! When I saw “Double Bone-in Center Cut Chops” listed on the blackboard, I didn’t really grasp what it meant. I thought they’d be thick, and didn’t think too hard about the “double bone” part. What it does mean is that it’s basically like two reeeeally thick pork chops stacked together.
I’d never encountered pork chops like this, so we asked Bob for advice on cooking it. I mean, I was seriously going to cry if I discovered that I effed up $40 worth of meat. Bob suggested we “season aggressively” with salt and pepper and oven-roast the chops. Maybe with some herbs, too, if we had any. He also said stuffing the chops would be good, but that seemed a little ambitious for me. One new thing at a time, right? So I decided to pan-roast with garlic, lemon and sage.
Bob also advised that whatever we cooked it in, it should have some kind of rim, since the rendered fat would be good to save to use for frying eggs later. Mmmm…pork fat…
Another tip from Bob: Score the fat so it crisps up nicely. These chops have a pretty massive fat cap…indulgent stuff. A lot of it does render out, though.
Pork time! So that we weren’t just eating oink, I also cooked up some cannellini beans, tomatoes and garlic in some of the rendered pork fat.
Next time, I think I will stuff them. They were delicious—moist and tender!—as is, but some nice herby stuffing would add more flavor. The direction to “season aggressively” should definitely be heeded; I felt like I was going way crazy with the salt, but more still wouldn’t have been excessive.
*Update: In early 2013, Bob left The Whole Ox. As of September 2013, The Whole Ox is closed. Return