Pan-to-Oven Pork Chops with Garlic
My main culinary victim, Gabrielle, and I have chosen a rather suspect New Year’s Resolution this time around, and many of you may not believe it, what with the promise of this project, but I’ll tell you anyway. Our original plan was to only eat meat once a week, and thus in concert with one of the recipe’s in this book for each week’s meaty meal. However, we have since revised the resolution to include meat once a week at each of the three basic meals, breakfast, lunch, and dinner, which sounds a little more reasonable, but from the perspective of this big ass poke chop in my belly, perhaps still a bit insane. But we’ll see how it goes. My premier recipe post from The River Cottage Meat Book is this wonderful, and really quite simple, pork chop recipe. To be sure, it is actually more of a technique than a recipe; one that works with incredible results. As Hugh writes, “the cheffy phrase for this is pan-roasting,” and it involves searing the meat on both sides for a couple of minutes on the stove-top, and then moving it into a hot oven to finish it off. It works for all kinds of thick cuts of meat, such as ribeye’s, or even whole chicken breast, and works so well because it widens the finish time for the meat a little bit because of the indirect nature of the heat inside the oven.
We are lucky to have a fantastic, relatively young pork producer here in Portland that goes by the name Tails & Trotters. As you can see in the picture above, they produce some pretty intense chops, and most of the other cuts I’ve seen from their operation have been equally exciting. The owner’s of the company, Aaron Silverman and Morgan Brownlow, started the venture with the intention of growing a superior animal in order to produce a high quality Northwest prosciutto, which I do not think is available for sale yet, but am eagerly anticipating. I am only just beginning to understand the thought and methods one has to devise in order to grow pigs (and all other meat producing animals, i’m sure) a certain way, and to a specific criteria, so I won’t try to explain any of the details quite yet. However, I will note that Tails & Trotters finishes, meaning to fatten-up before harvesting, their hogs with a heavy diet of hazelnuts, thus creating the beautiful, and actually quite healthy in moderation, fatty layers necessary for their prosciutto purposes. I hope to learn more about this company, and pork production in the months to come. In the meantime, this blog will certainly see the use of more Tails & Trotters pork!
To cook the chops, you will need a ton of garlic, 1 cup of white wine or hard cider, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Preheat the oven to around 425 with an empty pan in there large enough to hold the chops, but small enough to prop up the fatty sides from out of the bottom. Very Important: Don’t forget that that pan is hot later on. In fact, never forget that anything coming out of the oven will be extremely hot. It happens, so I’m just reminding ya’ll. I’ve been burnt like that, and I know I’m not alone.Meanwhile, break apart a few heads of garlic, leaving the cloves in the skin. The book calls for 1 large head, or two small heads, but I recommend two or three times as much as that, as there never seems to be enough garlic to go around, and I’m talking about how there’s only two of us at the table, so if there were three or more peeps then you’d definitely want to up the garlic. Lightly crush the cloves under a knife, just enough to crack the skins, not to flatten them out-right. Heat up some Olive oil at medium, to medium-high heat in a pan large enough to accommodate the entirety of the chops flatly on the surface. Once the oil is sufficiently hot, throw in the garlic and toss it a round for a minute or so, then salt and pepper one side of the chops, move the garlic into a pile, and fit the chops into the pan. While the first side browns, salt and pepper the other side, and after a minute or two, flip the chops over, and brown the other side. Remove the hot pan from the oven and arrange the chops and garlic into it so that the fatty ends are up out of the bottom. This is to allow the heat in the oven to crisp up and caramelize the fat. Then, up the heat all the way in the original pan, pour in one cup of the white wine or hard cider, and scrap up all the brown bits and so on, and allow the liquid to reduce by about half. This is called deglazing, and it’s a cornerstone of sauce-making. Once the liquid has reduced, pour it over the chops, and into the oven they go. Allow to cook for about 10 to 15 minutes, but never longer than 20, and that’s a wrap on the chops. The deglazed sauce will thicken up and blend with the pork fat and garlic, and act as a braise for the chops, ensuring that they won’t dry out even a bit. The garlic easily pops out their skins, and are nice and roasted, and as i noted before, there are never enough of these tasty, decadent morsels. Gabrielle says that these pork chops speak for themselves, and they do, yes they do.
I served the chops with braised cabbage and simple boiled potatoes. To make the Cabbage you will need a whole red or green cabbage, an onion, a bay leaf, salt, pepper, sherry vinegar, and an apple. Take the cabbage, cut it in half and core it. Then, slice it as thinly as possible. Do the same with the onion. Heat some sort of oil or (duck ) fat in a large pot or dutch oven, and cook the onion for about 5 minutes or so. Add the cabbage, bay leaf, salt and pepper to taste, the vinegar, and a half cup of water. If the cabbage doesn’t fit all at once, add it batches by allowing it to cook down for a few minutes. Once it is all in the pot, cover it and turn the heat down, and allow to simmer for 20 to 30 minutes. Take the apple, peal and grate it, and once the cabbage has braised for the alloted time mix it into the cabbage, and allow to cook for an addition 5 minutes. That’s the cabbage. It’s from Chez Panisse Vegetables.
Next up, after I recover from this pork chop, I am planning to do the Provençal Daube recipe, which is basically a light beef stew. In other words, it is another of the somewhat less adventurous recipes in the book. But just so you know, I’m only doing these ones to get warmed up–expect brains and a whole pig’s head in the future!
Resources: Pork Chops produced by Tails & Trotters and purchased at Laurelhurst Market, garlic and Samuel Smith Organic Cider from Pastaworks, Cabbage, Onion, Apple from Limbo, and Potatoes from Trader Joe’s
Link to Recipe Only blog.