For years I have used cooking as a means of therapy. After a long day in the lab dealing with all sorts of science shit I would stop by the market on the way home and head straight to the kitchen to make whatever I felt like making. Results were often mixed, but I have figured out I’m actually a decent cook and should follow my instincts rather than the recipe more often than not.
This was exactly the case with the dish I made for my parents yesterday. It sounded simple and delicious, and that should have tipped me off to the inherent faults of the recipe but it did not. Overall, it was a tasty dish, but the only reason it was a success was due to the way my Midwestern parents were raised. This makes sense if you grew up in the Midwest in the last 60 years, but if you haven’t then you may not know: pork must be cooked somewhere between well-done and hockey puck. Now don’t get me wrong, I have nothing wrong with hockey pucks; played hockey my entire childhood and love the sport. I do not love my meat to have the same consistency.
There were two striking problems with the recipe: overcooked meat, and a thin, underseasoned sauce.
Simple remedies I will make next time will be to cook the pork chops no more than 8 min. total if brought to room temp before frying. Less depending on the thickness, but use your own judgement. The second problem is slightly more difficult since it means using a little more experience-based judgement, but it should still work fine. Eyeball the fat left in the pan from frying the pork, add an equivalent volume of flour to make a quick pan roux, cook until slightly brown, then add the apple cider/cream/thyme/salt/pepper, bring to the correct consistency and seasoning and then serve.
Cooking is identical to science in that recipes (protocols) are great as a means of general information flow, but it really comes down to experience and empirical evidence to mold the recipe to a useful series of steps.