Pork chops on the skillet

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 7, 2017

I really like pork chops, but they are not something you think of when you think of something special for dinner. Yet they are affordable and can be dressed up to suit any occasion.

Pork chops can absorb flavors of brines, marinades, and rubs because of their mild taste. Pork can now be safely cooked to medium/medium rare. Look for an internal temperature from 135°F to 140°F for just slightly pink chops, which is the key to keeping them juicy and tender.

I like the bone-in rib chops because they look impressive, but also the bone delivers more flavor and juiciness as it insulates the meat around it during cooking keeping it moist. The important thing to help the chop reach its peak flavor is to get a good sear before finishing the recipe. To get a good sear, start with a thick chop. They can be forgiving and can be seared to a golden brown without overcooking. Make sure the chop is dry before it hits the pan. Blot the surface with a paper towel before putting in the pan. Make sure the heat is hot before putting the chop in and don’t overcrowd. Sear the sides of the chop also by lifting the chops with tongs and rotate the chop.  Keep the fatty edge in contact with the hot surface to brown it evenly.

Now you are ready to try a great recipe that can be done in one skillet and really delivers on flavor.

From ‘Fine Cooking’ October/November 2017.

Roast Pork Chops with Baby Artichokes and New Potatoes

Serves 2

1 tsp. cumin seeds

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 thick bone-in rib pork chops (about 2 lb.), trimmed and frenched if desired (Trimming the meat, fat, and sinew away from the inner and outer curve of the end of the bone. This is done for presentation. My chops weren’t cut so that I could do this.)

2 Tbs. olive oil

9 oz. fresh baby artichokes or frozen artichoke hearts, thawed

8 oz. baby new potatoes, halved (I used red potatoes that were not new.)

3 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced

2 ½ cups lower-salt chicken broth

4 sprigs fresh thyme

1 ½ Tbs. white balsamic vinegar

1 oz. (2 Tbs.) unsalted butter

2 tsp. finely sliced fresh chives

Position rack in the center of the oven and heat to 400°F.

In a small skillet, toast the cumin seeds, stirring over medium-high heat until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Transfer to a spice grinder and grind to a powder, then combine with ½ tsp. salt and ½ tsp. pepper. Season the pork chops all over with the spice mix.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, and 

Pork chops with artichokes.

sear the chops, in batches if necessary, while spooning oil from the pan over the bone to baste, until each side is deep golden brown. Then, using a pair of tongs, lift the chops to sear the sides, about 4 minutes total. Transfer the chops to a plate. Add the artichokes and potatoes to the pan, and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned in spots, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring for 30 seconds.

Add 1 ½ cups of the chicken broth to the pan, stirring to scrape up any browned bits. Cook until the potatoes are just tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Nestle the pork chops in the pan, add the thyme, and roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center of a chop reads 135°F, about 6 minutes.

Leaving the thyme sprigs in the pan, transfer the chops and vegetables to a plate and tent with foil. Return the skillet to the stovetop over medium-high heat, and reduce the liquid in the pan until almost completely evaporated, about 2 minutes. Add the vinegar, stirring to scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan, then add the remaining 1 cup broth, and bring to a boil. Remove the thyme sprigs, then whisk in the butter. Cook to reduce slightly, about 2 minutes, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Return the chops to the pan and spoon some sauce over the tops. Add the vegetables, sprinkle with chives, and serve.

I thought the potatoes and artichokes especially good.