Juicy and delicious pork chops are at your fingertips with these cooking techniques
My mom’s pork chops were legendary, but for all the wrong reasons. Unfortunately, what makes them memorable is their resemblance to the leather of the shoes. And while I doubt this is the outcome she was hoping for, as she was normally an excellent cook, I grew up in a time when everyone worried about trichinosis and cooked pork to avoid it. cooked well, all the time.
In addition, white meat was becoming increasingly popular in the pork industry. Since, as we all know, fat carries flavor, ultra-lean meat has left us, well, cravings.
Fortunately, safer pork means we don’t have to overcook our chops anymore. This, combined with the availability of thicker cuts, well-marbled heritage breeds and a better understanding of cooking methods, means our chances of getting juicy, delicious chops have improved significantly.
In this week’s Seared Pork Chops with Apple Cider Vinegar Sauce, we use a few techniques to bring out the flavor and lock in the moisture, a recipe that’s quick and easy enough to make on a busy weeknight.
It starts with thick pork chops. Bone-in chops are great because the bone can help keep the chop juicy and flavorful. But sometimes a bone-in thick chop is hard to come by, so this recipe is designed to make boneless thick chops all they can be. That said, if you have bones, definitely use them.
While the fat carries the flavor, so does the browning, but the high heat that is needed to create a seriously browned chop can also tip us into well-done territory. To get the browning that brings great flavor quickly and without blowing up the heat, we add a little sugar to our salt and pepper seasoning.
We also cook one side over medium-high heat, which begins the development of a dark brown crust, then flip the chops and reduce the heat to low, which gently completes the cooking process.
A quick and easy pan sauce also takes advantage of that key browning process because it’s made in the same pan and pulls all those dark brown bits into the sauce, along with sautéed onions, wine, broth, a splash of vinegar cider and, of course, butter.
Now we can all let go of our childhood trauma and embrace a new day (or night) that includes a flavorful and juicy pork chop.
Seared Pork Chops with Apple Cider Vinegar Sauce
For 4 people.
Note: Sprinkling the chops with a touch of sugar helps them brown deeply and develop more flavor without having to cook them too long, making them tough and dry. The browning process also creates a deep, caramelized flavor in quick and easy apple cider vinegar sauce. From Meredith Acts.
• 4 (6 to 8 oz) boneless pork loin chops, center cut, 3/4 to 1 inch. thick
• 2 tbsp. cut sugar
• 1/2 tsp. salt
• 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
• 1 tbsp. olive oil
• 1/2 tsp. chopped onion
• 1/4 tsp. dry white wine
• 3/4 tsp. low sodium chicken broth
• 1 tbsp. cider vinegar
• 3 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces
• 1 tbsp. chopped flat-leaf parsley, plus more for garnish
Pat the pork chops dry with paper towel. In a small bowl, combine 1 teaspoon of sugar, salt and pepper. Sprinkle sugar mixture on both sides of pork chops.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pork chops and cook, shaking the pan a few times to make sure the chops don’t stick or burn, until the underside is caramelized and the chops are deeply browned, about 3 to 5 minutes. Flip the chops and reduce the heat to low. Cook another 3 to 6 minutes, or until pork chops are to desired doneness (125 to 130 degrees for medium doneness, chops will continue to cook while they rest). Transfer the pork chops to a plate and cover with foil.
In the same pan used to cook the chops (do not clean the pan), add the onions and cook over medium heat, stirring, for 6 to 8 minutes, until golden brown. Add remaining teaspoon of sugar and cook until sugar is melted, about 30 seconds. Add wine and broth; bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Cook until liquid has reduced by about two-thirds, about 4 minutes. Tilt the pork chop plate in the pan to catch any juices on the bottom. Add the vinegar and cook to blend the flavors, about 1 minute more. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the butter until it melts and the sauce is thick and glossy. Add the parsley and season to taste with salt and pepper; pour over chops, garnish with more parsley and serve immediately.