Chef Madison CowanAlthough the pork chop is one of the most versatile cuts in the meat case, a new survey reveals that nearly 80 percent of Americans don’t realize its potential. America’s Pork Producers have enlisted Chef Madison Cowan, celebrity competition chef and a recent winner of “Iron Chef America,” to inspire more chop creativity in the kitchen.“Why not spread your culinary wings and try a new flavor combination or technique?” says Cowan, grand champion of the popular cooking competition, “Chopped” who also stars in the new television show, “No Kitchen Required.” “I find that experimenting in the kitchen can be a revelation, often leading to new family favorites.”To help home cooks unleash the power of the pork chop, Cowan recently conducted television and radio interviews reaching from Jacksonville, Fla., to Las Vegas, Nev., through the Pork Checkoff’s latest integrated media tour. Hundreds of online outlets, from Reuters to Fox News, also picked up on Cowan’s message to “take a trip around the globe without leaving the kitchen” by trying:

• Bone-in rib chops, which provide the perfect cut for Cowan’s Grilled Pork Chops with Chorizo, Dates and Manchego Stuffing.

• Top loin chops (also known as center-cut chops or America’s Cut), which offer intrigue on a plate with Cowan’s Chinese Five-Spice-and-Maple-Glazed Pork Chops.

• Well-marbled blade chops, which are often called Pork Loin Country-Style Ribs, that bring on bold flavor with Cowan’s Moroccan-Inspired Country-Style Rib Ragu with Couscous Cakes.

Bloggers make the farm-to-fork connection
Craig Mensink, a member of the Pork Checkoff’s Domestic Marketing Committee who runs a feeder pig-to-finish operation near Preston, Minn., had the chance to watch and meet Cowan during the integrated media tour, which originated from New York City.Grilled Pork Chops

“We’ve found another winner,” says Mensink, a recent appointee to the National Pork Board. “Chef Cowan is down to Earth, and he’s an excellent spokesperson for pork.”

Mensink appreciated Cowan’s advice to not overcook pork. A recent Pork Checkoff survey found that 65 percent of pork-loving Americans are still learning that the key to juicy, tender, flavorful chops is to cook them to the USDA-recommended temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit, followed by a three-minute rest.

This information was not lost on the bloggers (Yvo Sin of the Feisty Foodie and Kristen Hess of the Artful Gourmet) who were also invited to cover the integrated media tour, visit with Mensink about his farm and learn more about pork.
“These integrated media tours give us such bang for our Checkoff buck, because just one key media outlet can reach millions of people,” Mensink says. “We can build on this success.”

Pork serves up online inspiration
To keep consumers’ culinary juices flowing and the chop inspiration growing, the Pork Checkoff has highlighted various chop recipes on PorkBeInspired.com, including the exclusive recipes from Chef Cowan. The site also features a “Pork Chop Personality Guide” to help consumers explore new chop cuts and match them with recipes for every night of the week.

“We had a tremendous media response to Chef Cowan, and we want to continue to offer more unique ways to connect with creative people who love pork,” says Pamela Johnson, director of consumer communications for the Pork Checkoff. “For additional inspiration this summer, we’re encouraging people to follow @AllAboutPork on Twitter, “like” us at Facebook.com/PorkBeinspired for an upcoming chops giveaway and find us on Pinterest.com/PorkBeinspired.”