Become the Jedi of Juicy Pork Chops

by Catherine Smart
Tuesday, Nov 29, 2016



Meaty pork chops marry sweet onions and pears in the oven. (Photo: Chris Roslan)

A tough, dry pork chop is the bane of every cook's existence. So brown your chops on the stovetop with whole garlic cloves to boost the flavor. And then put them in the oven with pears, onions and a tenderizing vinegar-honey mix to keep the meat juicy, and to create a jammy, caramelized accompaniment.

Oh. And leave it to Lidia Bastianach to provide the perfect pairing to keep your chops moist: a sweet and savory oven-braise, topped with balsamic reduction. Yum.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 garlic cloves, crushed and peeled
  • 4 center-cut pork rib chops, each about 12 ounces and 1¼ inches thick
  • 1 large red onion, cut into 8 wedges
  • kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 ripe but firm Bosc pears, peeled, cored, and cut into 6 wedges each
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons honey

 

Directions

  1. In a small saucepan, bring the balsamic vinegar to a boil over high heat. Adjust the heat to a gentle boil, and boil until the vinegar is syrupy and reduced to about ? cup. Set aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Heat the oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Whack the garlic cloves with the flat side of a knife, and scatter them over the oil. Cook, shaking the skillet, until the garlic is brown, about 2 minutes. Lay the pork chops in, and cook until the undersides are browned, about 6 minutes. Remove and reserve the garlic cloves if they become darker than deep golden brown before the chops are fully browned. Turn the chops, tuck the onion wedges into the pan, and continue cooking until the second side of each chop is browned, about 6 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. About halfway through browning the second side, tuck the pear wedges in between the chops.
  3. Stir the red wine vinegar and honey together in a small bowl until the honey is dissolved. Pour this mixture into the skillet, and bring it to a vigorous boil. Return the garlic cloves to the skillet if you have removed them. Place the skillet in the oven, and roast until the onions and pears are tender and the juices from the pork are a rich, syrupy dark brown, about 30 minutes, turning everything once or twice during roasting.
  4. Remove the skillet from the oven. Place a chop in the center of each warmed serving plate. Spoon the pears, onion and pan juices around the chops. Drizzle the balsamic vinegar reduction around the edge of the plate.

About the Author

Craving Boston's Catherine grew up in a family that cooked, gardened, canned and tapped trees to make maple syrup, so you could say New England cuisine is in her blood.

After graduating from the University of New Hampshire in 2007, she moved to the Boston area to pursue a culinary certificate and MLA in gastronomy at Boston University. While working toward her degree Catherine fell in love with the Boston food scene, started a personal chef business, The Pocket Garden, and became a regular contributor to The Boston Globe food section.

When Catherine isn’t cooking for personal chef clients or freelancing for various food publications, she enjoys yoga, travel, gardening, and spending time with her friends and family. Catherine and her husband Artie are proud Somervillians, living in Union Square with their black lab Scout, and two cats, Lily and Oliver.

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