Tuesday, July 17, 2007

An Oopsie! that Worked Out: Pork Chops with Sweet Onion Sauce

I love trying new recipes. The idea of stickng to an arsenal of maybe 15-20 dishes that are just rotated through the month doesn't work for me. But I have a bad habit. I'll read a recipe that sounds good, assign it a night on the weekly menu, put the ingredients on the shopping list but somehow not bother to read through the recipe until it's time to make dinner.

The problem with this method is demonstrated in high relief on a night like last night. I was having a leisurely cocktail hour with The Neighbor, so leisurely that The Child stopped by to ask when I was planning on starting dinner. "7:15? I'll be right home".

And I was, more or less, only to find that the total prep time on the intended recipe was 40 minutes. That wouldn't do. But the chops were thawed, The Spouse had his taste buds set to "Pork", so I had to improvise.

Such improvisations have led to the coining of the family phrase, "This is either going to be really good or it's really going to suck". Fortunately, last night it was quite tasty. The directions are a bit imprecise, but I hope you'll be able to get a sense of the dish. The caramely sweet onions with the richness of brandy are a lovely compliment to the succulent pork.
I'm a big fan of the center-cut chop, they have to cook longer because they are thick but that gives you a little more wiggle room with time and temperature to get a chop that's done all the way through without being tough. Thinner chops have to be watched more vigilantly than I can usually manage; the merest distraction in the kitchen and those little guys are reduced to shoe leather.

Pork Chops with Sweet Onion Sauce

4 center-cut pork loin chops
1 large sweet onion, peeled, halved and thinly sliced
olive oil
salt and pepper
pinch of sugar
several glugs of brandy, maybe a 1/4 c. or so
chicken stock (around a cup)
1-2 T. fresh basil leaves, torn
1-2 T. cornstarch
pinch of chili powder

Lightly salt and pepper the chops on both sides. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat until hot. Add in olive oil to coat and add sliced onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions begin to caramelize. Sprinkle with a pinch of sugar.

Push onions to edges of pan and add in pork chops. Sear on one side (2-3 minutes) then turn over to sear the other side.

Deglaze the pan with the brandy, stirring up the brown bits, and moving the onions around to be sure they aren't sticking. When the sides of the chops are beginning to turn white, with just some pink showing in the middle, add in about 1/2 c. of chicken stock, sprinkle with the basil and a pinch or two of chili powder, to taste. Cover with a lid. Lower heat to medium and continue cooking for another 8 minutes or so.

Check chops for doneness. If they are firm to the touch and don't have any pink showing, you're good. Make a slurry of the remaining 1/2 c. chicken broth with 1-2 T. of cornstarch and add to the pan, stirring until sauce thickens.

Remove chops to a platter and spoon onion sauce over them before serving.


Jon said...

Taste buds set to "pork"

Love it! Very clever.

Anonymous said...

I am so intimidated by pork. To this day I have never cooked anything more complicated that fried bacon.

Seattle Coffee Girl said...

MMMMMmmm...pork. The food of my people. I'll have to give this a whirl.

Sling said...

I keep forgetting to stop by here 'cause,..you know,..I'm a guy.
But this sounds delicious lorraine.

Lorraine said...

Oh, my dear, sweet, Jon. You are so easily amused.

Hat, the uses for fried bacon are legion. Why mess with a good thing.

SCG: Yes. Your people are wise.

Sling: some of the best chefs in the world are men. Just sayin'.