Friday, October 21, 2011

Pork Chops

Pork Chop Night. Sounds kinda old school and for some reason makes me think of Homer Simpson. Memories of Peter Brady are also conjured, you know "Pork Schops and Appleshash". Whatever comes to mind the bottom line is pork is yummy and pork chops are yummier. As we head into the winter months these end up in a pretty heavy rotation around our place. Everyone loves them, it's one of a handful of dinners that don't require a negotiation with one or both my kids. Ahhh, dinner table harmony. Can you feel it?

There isn't a formal recipe here because most nights I'm pretty much winging it. You know, a dash of this, handful of that, cook it 'till done. Pork chops just kind of happen. But for you, because I love you all, because I struggled for years with dry pork chops and because I figured out how to make them right, I've laid out all the steps here. Adjust the quantities and cooking time as needed to accommodate your tastes and quantities but please, if you like pork, seriously who doesn't, give 'em a try.

Start by heating 2-3 tablespoons olive oil and 2-3 tablespoons butter in a large saute pan. You want equal parts olive oil and butter and enough to coat the bottom of your saute pan. Allow the butter to melt completely but not burn.

While the butter is melting and the pan is heating up, add 1-2 teaspoons of your favorite season salt to 1/4 cup flour. Give it a quick stir with a fork to get it mixed together.

Dredge the pork chops (about 1-inch thick chops, bone-in or boneless. I prefer bone-in.) in the seasoned flour, both sides, and shake off the excess flour.

With the pan over medium heat, add the dredged pork chops in a single layer and saute for about 7 minutes, longer if your chops are thicker. Don't fiddle around with them too much just let them be so they get a nice caramelization on them.

After about 7 minutes you'll see the juices (those red parts) start to surface.
That means is time to turn them over.

Flip them over and give them another 5-7 minutes saute time. I grew up with a hunter father and ate a lot of wild boar as a kid. So, I like my pork well done. I'm really not sure what the current safety guidelines are for pork but I generally go until it's well done. NO PINK! Don't worry about them being dry, by dredging in flour and getting a crispy caramelization on the outside your chops will still be juicy.

While the chops are finishing up peel core and thinly slice about 3 medium firm pears. (You could also use apples here).

When the chops are done, remove them too a plate and cover with foil to keep them warm. Do not clean or scrape out the pan. Adjust your heat to medium-low and add the pear slices. Stir them around and get a bit of color on them. The pears will start to release their juices and deglaze the pan. As you are stirring scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan.

When the pears start to soften add in about 1/4 cup of dry white wine (more if you want more sauce) and again scrape up any browned bits off the bottom of the pan.

Simmer until the wine is reduced and thickened. Scrape the spoon along the bottom of the pan. If it leaves a clean line and the liquid doesn't immediately run back to the center then it's ready. Turn off the heat and add a pat of butter (about 1 tablespoon.) Stir it in to melt and thicken the sauce.

Spoon the pears over the pork chops and voila! Pork Chop Night.

Here are the perportions, adjust as necessary for the number of servings and amount of sauce you'd like:
4-6 pork chops
2 T olive oil
2T butter plus 1T to finish the sauce
1/4 C. flour
2 t. season salt
3 medium sized pears
1/4 cup dry white wine

Note: 1-inch chops take about 5-7 minutes per side. Adjust cooking time as needed if you thicker or thinner chops.

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