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I have a recipe for long, slow, braised pork chops. I make them the same way every time. I buy 1 inch chops on the bone. Sometimes they come out incredibly tender and sometimes dry and stringy. I know it has to do with fat content as the dry ones have very little fat to skim from the sauce. But I can not discern from the raw meat, which is fattier. I buy center cut chops. The recipe calls for blade chops, but stores don't always have that. Help?

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2 Answers

The resulting quality of a braise has to do with the connective tissue rather than the fat. Your recipe calls for the blade chop because it is close to the shoulder, which is tougher and contains more connective tissue. This tissue is tough to start, but braising breaks it down into a gelatin and makes the meat tender (and juicy). When you pick your chops, look for thin lines white connective tissue throughout. Or, just use a pork shoulder.

Also, remember to let the meat cool in the braising liquid. (Not to room temperature, but to an edible temperature). As the meat cools, it draws in some of the liquid and prevents it from drying out.

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Great answer except that last line, which is sadly not true. Letting it cool in the liquid might add a little flavor but it definitely won't add moisture to the meat. –  sarge_smith Feb 7 '11 at 22:22
    
I disagree, as do many references that I found. The one that comes to mind first is Tom Colicchio in this season of Top Chef, who said "If you don't let the meat cool in the braising liquid, it will dry out", before booting someone off the show, but here is a written one: culinaryarts.about.com/od/moistheatcooking/ht/… –  michael Feb 8 '11 at 0:11
    
I think he meant just the last sentence; it may not draw in liquid. But, it would prevent steam carrying as much moisture away into the air. –  zanlok Feb 8 '11 at 20:12
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I find that the texture of meat is often stringier and tougher if it's cooked straight from the fridge. It's always better if you give it a good few hours out of the fridge to come up to room temperature.

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How long is a "few" hours? Might be a risky venture, especially for pork. –  zanlok Feb 8 '11 at 20:10
    
Say 3 or 4, maybe more. As long as you don't put it by a heater or in sunlight and the meat is in date it should be fine; obviously exercise the usual precautions: if it smells bad or feels slimy, ditch it. But if anything it's safer than straight out of the fridge, because the centre won't be cold when it goes in the oven. I regularly get pork tenderloin out of the fridge at lunchtime ready for dinner. –  ElendilTheTall Feb 8 '11 at 22:00
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