Articles / Chop House—Including a New Way to “Butcher” Tofu

Chop House—Including a New Way to “Butcher” Tofu

Published March 27, 2023

If it looks like a chop and eats like a chop—even if it’s not meat—let’s just agree to treat it like a chop

With April on the horizon, the season for smothering chops recedes in the rearview mirror. Since my love for this cut is a year-round thing, now is the time to pivot to the lighter ingredients and techniques that will tide us over until summertime grilling weather kicks in.

Here’s the part where I’m supposed to define what qualifies as a chop, or at least describe the difference between a chop and a steak. I won’t take that bait. Instead, here’s a bundle of recipes to help you cook bone-in or boneless meat—or tofu, fish, or vegetables—in ways that duplicate the best of chop house-style eating.

What you’re in for:

  • The master recipe for searing and quickly braising pork chops (with how-to photos)

  • A new way to “butcher” tofu or vegetables so they cook and eat more like their meaty counterparts

  • Super quick skillet chops in a surprisingly good Riesling sauce

  • Lamb chops done in the broiler

  • Some links to more recipes

Skillet Pork Chops with Apples

A master recipe fine for any apples languishing in the fridge. Or maybe you declare “over it” and use the same method to transition away from winter for good. Some ideas: Go all spring onions or leeks; early rhubarb or berries if you’re lucky enough; or instead of fruit, use a large can of whole or diced tomatoes with their juice; asparagus bites, any kind of peas, or tender spring greens. Whichever direction you choose, serve simply with mashed potatoes or buttered rice or egg noodles.

Five-Spice Tofu Chops with Chile Crisp Barbecue Sauce

To give tofu a range of textures after cooking, instead of cutting the blocks into rectangular slabs try a diagonal cut so that each half has thick and thin parts. After seasoning and roasting—the preferred fuss-free and foolproof method for creating a crust akin to searing—you end up with crunchy, chewy, and custardy bites all from the same “chop.” You can even use this angled butchering approach for changing up vegetable steaks cut from cauliflower, eggplant, cabbage, or celery root. Then vary the seasoning rub and sauce to keep things interesting and always serve with a different side and you’ll be making this recipe frequently.

Pork Chops with Riesling Sauce

The complexity of a sweet or semi-sweet white wine makes a lovely pan sauce that tastes like you labored for hours. If you don’t have a sweet-ish wine, use dry white and add a teaspoon of sugar or maple syrup.

Photo: Aya Brackett

Grilled or Broiled Lamb Chops

Fast-cooking and barely in need of seasoning, lamb chops are a nice change from steaks. If you have a butcher or a responsive supermarket meat counter and fancy a treat, ask for double-rib chops, which are easier to cook to medium-rare. You can also do any of these in a skillet, as you would in the Skillet Pork Chops recipe linked below. A generous squeeze of lemon is really all you need here but you could also serve with a piquant condiment like harissa, large pickled caper berries, or olive tapenade. As an added bonus, this recipe transforms thick sturdy fish fillets or steaks (from salmon, halibut, cod, or rockfish, for example) into a chop-like experience. Just make sure they’re at least an inch thick and rub them generously with oil before cooking.