Why Trader Joe's has a cult following

+ butter myths, pork chop upgrades, & using garlic effectively.

Good morning. Congratulations to Kate T. from Missouri (US) for winning the October giveaway!

  • For the rest of us — stay tuned for more giveaway bundles in the future 👀.

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Pork chop w/ pan sauce

How do you elevate the weeknight pork chop? With a pan sauce, which brings tons of flavor but also happens to clean the pan for you too.

  • If you want a video walkthrough of a similar recipe, check out London-based restaurant Fallow’s POV tutorial (they’re a great food channel to check out anyway).



  • High quality pork chop (s)

  • Cooking oil

  • Salt & pepper to taste

Pan Sauce

  • Aromatics: minced garlic, diced shallot, chopped herbs, and/or spices

  • Deglazing liquid: try wine or cider, plus some broth or a bouillon cube

  • Thickener: cold butter, mustard, or a cornstarch slurry


1) Sear the pork chop: Season both sides of the pork chop with salt and pepper. Optionally dry brine overnight. Over medium-high heat, sear the pork until you have color on both sides. Remove from the pan to rest & finish cooking when you’re about 10°F from your desired internal temperature.

2) Deglaze the pan: Add pan sauce aromatics to the remaining fat in the pan to saute for a minute or so. Add enough deglazing liquid to cover the pan in a thin layer. Scrape any stuck fond off the bottom and bring to a simmer.

3) Thicken the sauce: Add your thickener of choice, and then gently simmer and reduce the sauce until it has arrived at your desired sauce consistency.

4) Serve: The pork chop should be well-rested by now. Slice, and serve on a plate with a generous covering of warm pan sauce.


Garlic crash course

Is fresh garlic worth peeling & chopping up every time? In most cases, yes.

If you haven’t watched the full garlic deep dive, the full video is definitely worth your time.

Here are a few major takeaways:

1) Jarred garlic has almost no flavor and is not worth buying. It came up short in every blind taste test.

2) While granulated garlic can provide a strong garlic flavor if rehydrated, it’s a completely different experience from the pungent sensation of freshly crushed garlic. Use in conjunction with fresh garlic for extra complexity.

2) You can manipulate the flavor of fresh garlic easily. If you want more pungency, crush or mince it finely. If you want a mellower flavor, use slices or cook down the garlic.

Also, whole garlic heads are cured and meant to be stored for months.

  • They’ll last in a cool dark place (like your pantry — not the fridge, where it can mold) for weeks on end, so there's no reason not to stock up (it’s one of the cheapest ingredients anyway...)


Triple garlic rice

A good way to learn how to use garlic in different ways is with garlic rice. You can combine the merits of fresh, cooked, and fried garlic in one dish.


  • A handful of garlic cloves — minced & divided

  • A few garlic cloves — thinly sliced

  • Cooking oil

  • 1 part rice

  • 2 parts water

  • Salt


1) Toast the rice & garlic: In a saucepot, add one-half of your minced garlic, the dry rice, and a squiggle of oil. Sautee for about a minute or until the garlic and rice are toasty and fragrant.

2) Cook the rice: Add the water and a sprinkle of salt. Simmer, covered, until the water is absorbed and the rice is cooked through. While the rice cooks, make a fried garlic:

3) Fry the garlic garnish: Add the slices of garlic to a thin layer of cooking oil and fry until golden, but not dark brown (garlic goes bitter) and drain on a paper towel. Season with a sprinkle of salt.

4) Mix & serve: When the rice is finished cooking, mix in the raw minced garlic for extra pungency. This will give you the fresh flavor paired with the cooked garlic in the rice. Garnish with crispy garlic chips on top for texture and a third dimension of garlic.


Irresistible Trader Joe’s Snacks

Q: Are fewer food choices better?

A: In the aisles of Trader Joe's, yes. By square foot, the California-born grocery chain famously profits about twice as much per square foot of retail space as its larger competitors.

How so? By playing into decision theory:

  • Research from Columbia University found that too much choice is overwhelming and that people are more likely to make a purchase when asked to choose from six offerings instead of 24-30.

Trader Joe’s embraces this “less is more” strategy. By carefully curating a product line of select snacks, frozen goods, and cleverly branded products, Trader Joe's capitalizes on impulse buys, brand loyalty, and a cult following for its exclusive offerings.

  • Food, after all, is deeply human and psychological — perhaps more so than any other product.

Is there any other grocery store with such emotional attachment from its customers than Trader Joe's? Write in to let us know your thoughts on grocery chains.


Butter myth-busting

Question: “Question: Does adding oil to butter really keep it from burning during cooking?

It is a common myth that adding a splash of oil to butter prevents it from burning in the pan.

  • Even with the addition of oil, the milk solids in butter still burn at high temperatures.

  • Serious Eat’s Kenji Lopez Alt tested this and found that adding oil does not raise the smoke point of butter at all.

So where does this theory come from?

1) Dilution: Adding oil to butter means that the burnt milk solids are just more distributed throughout a dish, making them less noticeable.

2) Wishful thinking: Butter adds great flavor to dishes. It would be great to be able to sear with it on high heat in any application.

  • Unfortunately, butter solids burn if they get too hot (although you can take browned butter pretty far).

If you want that milky, butter flavor in a high heat searing application: add some at the end of cooking, or carefully monitor your pan to make sure the butter browns but doesn’t become burnt and bitter (go by sight and a nutty smell).


Satisfying steak bowl

This week’s dinner winner is Mauro P., who made a stir-fried steak with shiitake mushrooms bowl with green beans over leftover rice with pickled ginger. Well done, Mauro!

Think you can win? Reply with photos of your proudest home-cooked meals for a chance at glory. We’ll shout out the best ones in upcoming editions.


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