Monday, June 21, 2010

Pork Chops with Balsamic-Rosemary Reduction

Even writing the title of this dish makes my mouth water a little bit.
I have never cooked pork chops before, so I thought it was about time I gave it a try. I think pork chops are in a state of distress these days, especially the ones that are boneless. They have become so lean that they are absolutely uninteresting. Listen, you need fat on pork chops, that is what makes them taste good. Now, bone in chops fare a bit better, because they have more marbelling, which is what you want. (As you can see, the top one is better than the bottom one, but both still trump a boneless chop).
And if you maximize on the fat that the chop does have, as this recipe lets you do, then you are in for a pork chop revelation.

In picking a recipe for these chops, I was irresistibly drawn towards Jamie Oliver. Big shock, I know. But, what can I say, the man knows how to cook.

For his pork chops, Mr. Oliver has you cut 1 inch slits along the outer layer of fat on your chop. This way, as the pork chop cooks, all that fat will melt and keep the pork chop really nice and juicy. And, in the end, you will have an almost cracklin' like edge around the outside.
After you have cut into the chop, cooking it is a cinch. It takes one oven-proof skillet and about 15 minutes. In your skillet, add some olive oil over high heat. Once the oil is sizzling, add your prepared pork chops.
Let that sizzle away for about 3 minutes, flip them, and make sure you have a nice golden color going.
Then pop them in the oven for 10 minutes. C'est tout for the pork chops.
In the meantime, I decided that I wanted to dress the chops up a little bit. I had some rosemary on hand, and I always have balsamic, so I decided to try my hand at a balsamic reduction. The timing was perfect, as the reduction takes 10 minutes, the amount of time the pork chops need to cook. It is really so easy. Add some balsamic, a couple of sprigs of rosemary, salt, and pepper to a sauce pan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and let boil gently for about 10 minutes, or until reduced by half.
Remove from heat, add a bit of butter to make it nice and silky.
And there you have it, a gorgeous, easy balsamic reduction.
Just as the reduction was finished, I removed the chops from the oven. Drizzled the balsamic reduction over them. Served it with some roasted asparagus and mashed sweet potatoes, and it was one fabulous meal!

Pork Chops with Balsamic-Rosemary Reduction (adapted from Cook with Jamie and Jamie at Home)
For the pork chops:
2 bone-in pork chops
salt and freshly ground black pepper
olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400. Lay the pork chops on your cutting board, and using a sharp knife, make 1-inch-deep cuts all along the fatty side of them. It helps to render the fat out and will make the skin crispy. Sprinkle the chops with salt and pepper.

Pour a glug of olive oil into a hot oven proof pan. Carefully place your chops in it and cook them for 2 to 3 minutes on each side until golden brown. If you need to, open out the little pieces of fat along the edge so they don't stick together.

When the chops are nearly done and have a nice golden color, flip them over and put them in the oven for 10 minutes. (Lynne Rossetto Kasper from the Splendid Table recommends pork should achieve an internal temperature of 150).

Let rest for a few minutes, and serve with reduction (below).

For the Balsamic-Rosemary Reduction:
1/2 cup of balsamic vinegar
1-2 sprigs of rosemary
a pinch of salt and pepper
1 Tablespoon of butter

Bring the balsamic, rosemary, salt, and pepper to a gentle boil in a sauce pan. Let that boil for 10 minutes or so, until the balsamic has reduced by half. Remove from heat and add the butter.

Pour over pork, chicken, vegetables, or just about anything you like.

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