When I was younger our summers always meant smoked pork chops.
I didn’t appreciate it much at the time, but my father had access to bulk buy cases of delicious, thick chops direct from the local processing facility. He did this once per year, ensuring that in our chest freezer lived a cardboard box containing about forty of these special treats, setting our family up for seven or eight really great summer meals.
Then I moved away, went to University, lived my life, started a family, and…
It turns out that these specific smoked meats are not as common in the local grocery store as my easy access to these delectable slabs of not-quite-pork chops seemed to be in my youth.
It also turns out that my wife had a similar experience growing up. Her family also caught the summer vibes of a slab of smoked pork. Her youth was also one of barbecued pink meats and camp meals made from this exclusive, elusive delicacy.
The ties that bind us, eh?
What’s up with smoked pork chops anyways, you ask?
Well, imagine a regular pork chop, but infused with a subtle smoky flavour resembling bacon, edging towards the succulent tenderness of a slice of ham, and all grilled over the hot flame of a barbecue or to a tasty crisp finish in a cast iron pan. Moist. Aromatic. A piece of meat nudged towards the perfection one imagines from a great barbecue, but heated and ready to be eated in less than fifteen minutes.
For some reason we were lamenting our inability to find these chops locally in recent a family conversation. Then last week it was my wife’s birthday. Not thinking anyone remembered that first convo, well, it turned out I was wrong… in a good way. Her folks showed up and (jokey gift kind of people that they are) cracked open a cooler full of smoked chops.
It turns out that if nostalgia could set off the smoke detector as it cooks in a thin layer of hot oil, my nostalgia would be shaped like a pork chop.
It was as good as I remembered. And I appreciate it now.