Thursday, February 21, 2008
Perfect Pork Chop
Boneless pork chops are just so tempting when you're browsing the meat department at the local mega-grocery store, trying to think of something to make. They are the perfect serving-size, they look easy to cook (sans bones), they are healthy (pretty much), and they hint at being tasty (they ARE pork, after all).
But then you grill them, or pan-saute them, or bake them (shake-and-bake or otherwise) and you end up with DRY, flavorless pork. Your cuts of meat have turned into warm styrofoam and you - at least WE! - are disappointed with our choice, once again.
But wait! What is the method that we see in open kitchens in restaurants we visit and on the chef's stations of cooking shows we watch? Browning, then moving to the oven to finish. This method of cooking SEEMS daunting - at least to US! - because you are sending your quick-cook cut of meat off to the dark regions of the oven. We normally reserve oven introductions for long, slow visits... covered, with liquid or not. But, there's a reason you see this method in professional kitchens - and that reason is juicy, flavorful meat!
Not only that - once you get past the initial fear of sending your boneless pork chop off to the oven - it's easy, too! This may all seem elementary to some, but it took us a while to figure everything out. Here's what we do:
Take 4 boneless pork chops, maybe 3/4" inch thick, and season both sides with salt, pepper, and something else... we keep going with this oregano/basil/thyme/fennel mixed seasoning we have, but you could try smoked paprika, garlic-and-onion, maybe crushed red pepper - whatever you fancy. Also, get the oven preheated to 350.
Then heat a little olive oil - maybe 2 tablespoons - in a pan on pretty high (preferrably a non-non-stick pan... so, a stick pan. but definitely an oven-safe pan) and start browning your pork chops. After about 3 minutes on side #1, turn and brown side #2 for 1 minute and then turn off the heat and pop that pan into the oven. Since it's uncovered, it helps if you have a wire splatter screen to put over the top or you'll get some mess in your oven.
8 to 10 to mayyybe 15 minutes later (depending on the thickness of your pork chops) you're done! Pop them out, make a little incision if you want to make sure there is barely any pink left (this isn't poultry, but get to the doneness you want), and then let them sit for a minute or two.
If you want to go one final step - remove those pork chops to a plate to sit and put the pan back on high heat on the stovetop, then splash some wine into the pan - white or red, whatever you're having. Stir and let that cook for two minutes and you've got a great little pan sauce.
Voila! Juicy, flavorful boneless pork chops in less than 1/2 an hour! A quick side of rice, or couscous, steamed asparagus, or even just a piece of bread and some heated frozen veggies... pour some of that pan sauce on your pork chops and dinner is served - in less than 1/2 hour!