Saturday, March 10, 2012

Balsamic-Glazed Pork Chops

Look!  I am back!  I said we would be back this weekend with more posts and here we are.  Hurray!  Alex and I made our first home-cooked meal in... 2 weeks?  The last meal we cooked and ate at home was when Alex made Candied Pork Shoulder on February 26, 2012.  And I haven't even had time to post that recipe, but I promise it is coming soon (maybe tomorrow).  There were a few nights during that two week span where we could have cooked at home, but we either didn't have the energy or we had friends in town.  Actually, February was terrible for home-cooked meals.  But I'm hopeful that March will be better.  I'm not confident that it will be better, but I think there is a distinct possibility that it could be.  And if so, I plan to cook and eat at home as much as humanly possible because April is already showing signs of impending insanity.

I'm not exactly sure how we decided to cook pork chops for dinner tonight.  We had some ideas for side dishes for the next few days, but no ideas for main courses.  We randomly pulled a few different proteins out of the freezer to defrost this afternoon, but we knew that nothing would be defrosted in time for tonight's dinner.  So we went to Fairway and hashed it out there.  Pork chops (bone-in, of course) were the winner because it has been a really long time since we made them last and they sounded healthier/lighter than red meat.  We had some sugar snap peas in the fridge that somehow looked ok (even though we bought them weeks ago) so I wanted to make the Sugar Snap Pea Salad with Radishes, Mint and Ricotta Salata.  Granted, the peas were way out of season so they were nowhere near as sweet as they are when in season, but I wanted something fresh and light.  I was originally thinking about making shrimp or chicken with the salad, but then we decided to go with pork chops.  I randomly picked this recipe once I got home because it sounded both tasty and easy and off we went.  I was very pleasantly surprised by how tasty the pork chops were.  Alex was worried that they would be too sweet and I suppose I would have been worried too if I had thought about it.  But I know that the combination of reduced balsamic and black pepper works really well together so I just went with it.  The balsamic-glaze had a bit of sweetness to it, but the pork and black pepper combination made it nicely savory at the same time.  One of the things that I liked best about the dish is that I think this dish would be a really flexible dinner option - you could easily pair it with a number of different sides (roast squash in the fall, a nice salad and some bread in the summer, etc). 

Recipe after the jump!

Balsamic-Glazed Pork Chop
March 2006
    4 (3/4-inch-thick) center-cut pork chops (about 2 lb total)
    1 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon black pepper
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    6 oz small shallots (about 8), quartered and peeled, leaving root ends intact
    2/3 cup balsamic vinegar
    1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
      Pat pork dry and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
      Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then cook pork (in 2 batches if necessary) along with shallots, turning pork over once and stirring shallots occasionally, until pork is browned and shallots are golden brown and tender, about 5 minutes total. Transfer pork with tongs to a plate and add vinegar, sugar, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper to shallots in skillet. Cook, stirring until sugar is dissolved and liquid is thickened slightly, about 1 minute.
      Reduce heat to moderate, then return pork along with any juices accumulated on plate to skillet and turn 2 or 3 times to coat with sauce. Cook, turning over once, until pork is just cooked through, about 3 minutes total. Transfer pork to a platter and boil sauce until thickened and syrupy, 1 to 2 minutes. Pour sauce over pork (we didn't have any sauce left to thicken or pour, but maybe we just didn't add enough to the pan in the first place).

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