February 18, 2015
You haven't had a smoked pork chop until you have tasted one of Joe Park's smoked pork chops. Thick and meaty, always a hefty portion, it carries the flavor from the grill right to the plate. It's Indiana pork at its finest.
Park, director of the Indiana FFA Center near Trafalgar, perfected the craft while he was an ag teacher at Indian Creek High School. Indian Creek FFA pork chops bring a mouth-watering smile to anyone in the community, and also to people who chow down on them at the Johnson County Fair.
'Mr. Pork Chop' and apprentice! Joe Park, left, Indiana FFA Center director, helps out as Jimmy Clark, Trafalgar, who helps out at the Center, cooks pork chops for the Indiana Ag Teachers in-service training day recently.
Now, the Indiana FFA Center hosts a pork chop dinner every second Thursday evening of the month to bring people together, offer good food at a reasonable price, and make a little money to help support the Indiana FFA Center.
The Center sponsored two benefit nights for people with serious illnesses last fall. At one of them, more than 650 people came through to eat and donate during the 3-hour period of the evening when dinners were served.
Pork chops are finding their way onto the menu of wedding receptions and all sorts of banquets and meetings. They're becoming one of the most requested items, Park notes. He's also been known to deliver pork chops and cater events in the area.
Park has carried on the tradition of barbecued pork chops for more than 40 years. He says the secret is in buying good pork cured just right, and in grilling them over the coals correctly. He trained many FFA members to do it over the years, and now relies on Center staff to help cook meals for those who wait in line to eat pork chops.
Why did he start offering a pork chop meal to the community one evening a month? "Other places do it with tenderloin sandwiches and fish fry events, and the word has gotten out about our pork chops, so we've been doing it about a year now," Park says. So far he's pleased with the success of the event.
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