Saturday, December 29, 2012

Pan-Seared Pork Chops

Pan-searing is my very favorite way to cook a steak. Talk about easy. All you need is a good cast iron pan, five minutes on the stove top, eight minutes in the oven and you have a steak that rivals anything you can buy at Smith & Wollensky. I eat pan-seared steak at least once a week and I am a much better person for it.

So I've taken my love of pan-searing and am expanding on it. Last night I made pan-seared pork chops for my son Sean and I. What a great meal...pan-seared pork chops, garlic hash browns and a Caesar salad made from scratch.

For pan-searing, a steak needs no extra attention. Not so for pork. Today's pork ("The Other White Meat"...thank you Bert) is very lean and can dry out quickly when pan-seared. Accordingly, we are going to brine our chops before pan-searing them so that they turn out moist and delicious...just like the one in the picture you see above.

Now a word about the pan you are going to use. I prefer cast iron as no other metal holds heat like cast iron. Cast iron goes from stove top to oven without breaking a sweat and it is completely non-stick. If you don't have one, a good steel pan will do. Do not, under any circumstances, use a coated non-stick pan. You can't get a good sear with a coated non-stick pan. This recipe serves four.

3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup table salt
10 garlic cloves, crushed
4 bay leaves
8 whole cloves
3 tablespoons whole black peppercorns, crushed
4 bone-in rib loin pork chops, 12 ounces each, 1 1/2  to 2 inches thick
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

  1. In gallon-sized zipper-lock plastic bag, dissolve sugar and salt in 2 cups hot water. Add garlic, bay leaves, cloves, peppercorns, and 4 cups cold water; cool mixture to room temperature. Add pork chops, then seal bag, pressing out as much air as possible; refrigerate until fully seasoned, about 1 hour, turning bag once. Remove chops from brine and dry thoroughly with paper towels. 
  2. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position, place cast iron pan on oven rack, and heat oven to 450 degrees.
  3. When oven reaches 450 degrees, wait five minutes, then remove pan and place on burner over high heat (yes, you'll need an oven mitt, you frigtard). Add oil and heat until shimmering, but not smoking.
  4. Place pork chops in pan and cook for 4 minutes without touching pork chops.
  5. After 4 minutes, flip pork chops and slide pan into oven. Cook for 8 minutes.
  6. Remove pan from oven and remove chops from pan. Tent chops with foil and let rest for 5 minutes.
  7. Divide among serving plates and enjoy!

Wine pairing: A nice fruity Zinfandel

Bert Gardner, my Bozell co-worker who
created the line "Pork. The Other White Meat."
RIP, Bert.

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