Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Balsamic Quick-Braised Pork Chops

Two days ago I was walking around Whole Foods in a state of wonderment. The large, 2-ton pumpkins had just arrived. The whacky gourds were on sale; figs were in the produce section. All of this on the heels of a cool front that came with a tropical storm a few days earlier, and it was like I woke up that morning and stepped into fall. All that was missing was ABC Family airing Hocus Pocus. 

I stopped off at the seafood section to find barramundi for sale, a fish I'd just read about in Paul Greenber's Four Fish (barramundi is actually Asian sea bass), then made my way to the butcher. There I saw it...the thickest, most beautiful bone-in pork chop I've seen in a long time. I immediately remembered a Williams-Sonoma recipe I prepared once after seeing it used in one of their catalogues to highlight a couple of French chef's pans, and decided that's what I would have for dinner. 

When you're preparing this, know that I use about twice as much bacon as it calls for, and know that you really need to stay with your pan. Because my house is small, and because my kitchen is centrally located within that shotgun house, I have a tendency to walk away from the stove when things are stewing, braising, or reducing. You'd think I'd have learned by now that that's not a smart idea. In this case, in a matter of seconds, the gas flared up on my old stove and about a quarter of the pan became intensely hot and burned. I mean BURNED. Luckily it was large enough that I moved everything over to the other side and let it finish cooking without any detriment to the appearance or taste (yes it's supposed to look like the picture) but it took me about thirty minutes of scrubbing with Barkeeper's Friend to get the burnt balsamic vinegar off my pan. So, stay with your pan, keep the sauce moving, and watch your stove for flare-ups!

Below is the Williams-Sonoma recipe, along with a picture I took when I plated my chop. 
Seasoned with balsamic vinegar, bacon and fresh thyme, these pork chops come together quickly. They’re perfect for a weeknight supper with the family or a dinner for guests.


  • 4 bone-in pork chops, each 1 inch thick
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 4 bacon slices, diced
  • 1 red onion, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 Tbs. firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp. minced fresh thyme
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tsp. chicken demi-glace
  • Fresh rosemary leaves for garnish


Season the pork chops with salt and pepper. In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Add the pork chops and sear, turning once, until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.

In the same pan over medium heat, cook the bacon until crispy, 5 to 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate. Pour off all but 1 Tbs. of the fat in the pan.

Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the onion and partially cover the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is caramelized and tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Stir in the brown sugar, vinegar, thyme and bacon. Increase the heat to medium and cook until the liquid is thickened and reduced by half, 10 to 12 minutes. Stir in the broth and demi-glace and bring the sauce to a simmer.

Return the pork chops to the pan. Cook, uncovered, coating the chops with the sauce, for 10 to 12 minutes. Garnish with the rosemary leaves and serve immediately. Serves 4.

No comments:

Post a Comment