Wondering how this all came about? Read the first post here.

Saturday, December 19, 2009


This was part 2 of the first batch of pork chops I thawed, and I decided to attack the problems I was having with tough pork directly. My first roast and first pork chops were both tougher than expected (the chops significantly more so than the roast), so I googled 'juicy pork chops' and selected a recipe. It was actually on the web site Austin360.com, but it was a reprint from the LA Times.

The recipe was embedded in an article about the secrets to juicy pork. The upshot of it was this: Don't overcook.

A valuable lesson for all of us. Photo shamelessly 

As an added plus, the recipe combined two of my most favoritist things in the world:

Source: Donna Deane of the LA Times, reprinted by Austin360.com

Pork Chops with Wine Sauce

4 medium rib or loin pork chops
1/2 tsp. sea salt or kosher salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. minced shallots
2 Tbsp. minced carrots
2 Tbsp. minced celery
1/3 cup white wine
3/4 cup chicken broth
1 Tbsp. cold butter, cut up


  • Pat any moisture from the surface of the chops. Season with the salt and pepper. Heat the oil and butter in a large, heavy skillet over medium high heat. Add the pork chops to the skillet and sear until both sides are nicely browned, about 3 to 4 minutes each side. Remove the chops from the skillet to a plate; cover and keep warm. Reduce the heat to low. Pour out all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the skillet. Add the shallots, carrots and celery and quickly sauté for about 1 to 2 minutes. Add the white wine and stir to deglaze the pan, scraping up the brown bits from the bottom. Stir in the chicken broth. Bring the sauce to a simmer; cook until reduced by half.
  • Add the pork chops back into the skillet along with any drippings and simmer, spooning the juices over the chops as they cook, 1 to 2 minutes or until the chops are firm and just pink in the center. Remove the chops from the skillet.
  • Add the butter, tilting the pan and swirling the butter until the sauce is slightly thickened. Serve each chop with a little sauce spooned over the top. Makes 4 servings.
First thing to do, natch, was open the wine. We had a bottle of Monkey Bay Pinot Grigio on hand, from New Zealand. (Shannon and I went to New Zealand in 2004 and spent some time in their main wine region, called Marlborough. Since then, we pretty much buy any New Zealand wine we can find; not so much because we like the wine, although that helps, but also so we can pretend we're still there.)

One for me, one for the recipe. A shiny quarter 
to the first person who guesses which is which!

The recipe itself went pretty quickly, as you can see from the instructions. The sauce was really fun to make and smelled FANTASTIC - fat, butter, veggies and wine will do that.

I was much happier with the result this time, although it was STILL not quite as tender as I would have liked. But the searing did trap in more of the juices, and I have to say, this sauce was awesome.

I still clearly have some learning to do on stovetop cooking. It's complicated by two competing facts: Undercooked pork is bad for you, but it also continues to cook after you take it off the heat. Compounding this is Shannon's terror of undercooked meat, a family tradition that has led her to cook the living bejeezus out of many fine cuts. (Before anyone complains, her mother doesn't suffer from this affliction; it runs on her father's side.)

As a result I tend to leave meat in until I'm sure it's reached the proper temperature. But since lean pork is touchy about overcooking and continues to cook even off the heat, especially for thick cuts, if it's in the pan and at the desired temperature, it's already overcooked. I just need to get the confidence to take it off the heat at the right time.

I also might look into de-boning the chops and pounding them flatter.

This is a picture of Kirk Cameron's friend Boner from "Growing Pains." 
I tried like hell to come up with some joke connecting him to my de-boning 
line in the previous sentence, but failed. Still, I had gone to the trouble 
of googling 'boner growing pains' and had downloaded this picture, 
so I figured hey, the fact that his name was Boner is pretty funny in and of itself.

It seems like everybody has a good pork chop recipe, and I need to master the pork chop before this blog is through. Send me any ideas you have. Meanwhile, my next pork chop recipe is going to be an idiot-proof slow cooker number. But before that, we're heading back to Baconville!

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