It sounds like the consensus opinion is that it mostly isn't worth the trouble of doing pork chops sous vide. (BTW, when I said "bland" above, I was actually thinking about texture, rather than flavour: I was hoping for a superior texture by using sous vide.) I still have high hopes for pork tenderloin, belly and shoulder, though!
Last night's 24-hour flatiron steaks came out wonderfully, though a friend raised the question as to whether it really requires 24 hours, since flatiron is already a pretty tender cut, despite being from the shoulder. Has anyone tried it for shorter periods of time with any success?
I also did a side-by-side comparison of searing in a hot pan vs. with a torch, and found that the steak seared with the torch stayed more pink than the one done in the hot pan, though the latter still had a great texture. I suspect my underpowered stove and the thinness of the steaks I had were to blame, so I think I'll be using the torch a fair bit from now on.
For a change of pace, we went back to the pan sear method for ribeye (I get the pan SUPER hot) and the results were nice but I have to say that we all liked the torched steaks better. We also cooked a nice thick ribeye using the Ducasse method -- the crust looked gorgeous but the consensus was that while the crust looked better than the torched steak, it actually was less tasty than the torched crust. And much more of the steak was 'overcooked' than sous-vide plus torch.
I wouldn't say that pork isn't worth the effort. I would say that if you are looking for transformation, you won't find it as much in pork as in other cuts (you might find it with pork belly or shoulder, but I haven't tried belly and my pork shoulder experiment was very good but nothing compared to my 14 hour slow smoked shoulders).
I agree with Merridith that sourcing seems even more critical than with beef. I also never cook pork sous-vide without brining first.
Good point...I do brine as well: a 7% salt 3% sugar brine is my favorite. I did cook belly twice and it was sublime - and transformed. I cooked it relatively high (80C) to get the fat softened, after first brining for 24 hours with aromatics. I took it from the bag and quick chilled it, cut it in cubes and then flash fried it to "brown and serve." It was sensational, decadent and DEFINITELY transformed. I used the bag juices, amended with reduced sweet cider, cider vinegar, brown sugar and balsamic vinegar, and this made a fabulous sauce. Brine, formula is: 7–10% salt, 0–3% sugar, water solution (70–100 grams salt and 0–30 grams sugar per 1 liter).