Sunday, March 18, 2012

Chipotle-Garlic Braised Pork Chops

These are easily in the running for the best pork chops I've ever made. I've been playing with the idea of braising them for a while now, something I've not tried before, because when pan frying or grilling I often have trouble hitting the right level of doneness; so often they seem to go from not quite done to dry. Braising solves that problem by finishing the cooking process in a flavorful sauce so the chops stay moist.

This is best made in a braising pan, but a large skillet will do the job as well. Just make sure to use a nice heavy pan for good heat distribution.

Try serving these with Sorrel Mashed Potatoes, Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes, or Goat Cheese Polenta.

3 good sized pork chops
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp chili powder (not cayenne, something milder)
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Olive oil
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, seeded and minced
2 cups chicken broth, warm

Get out the chops an hour or so before you plan to start cooking them, if you can manage it. Combine the salt, chili powder, and black pepper and mix well. Sprinkle this all over the chops and let sit for a while.

Preheat your braising pan over medium heat for a few minutes to get it nice and evenly hot. Add just a little olive oil and turn to the heat to medium-high. Place the chops in the pan, close together but not overlapping. Cook without touching for 2 minutes, until nicely browned on one side. Turn over and cook on the other side for another two minutes. Remove the chops to a place.

Add a little more olive oil to the pan, then add the garlic and onion and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add the chipotle and the chicken broth. Deglaze the pan, scraping up all the browned bits stuck to the bottom, which will be full of flavor. Simmer the sauce over medium heat until reduced somewhat, then add the chops back in. They should be no more than about halfway covered with liquid. Turn to the heat to low and simmer for 10-12 minutes, turning the chops once halfway through. Remove from liquid and let rest for a few minutes, then serve.

The braising liquid is delicious, if slightly spicy. Spoon a little over each chop when serving, and if desired, also over mashed potatoes, polenta, or whatever other accompaniment you have.

Serves 3.

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