Trying New Things: Easy Thick-Cut Pork Chops
I can hardly believe it’s 2012 already, and the holidays are over. We roasted a goose, which was very exciting. We had a full-on multiple course Christmas dinner, which was challenging with two-year-olds at the table. But it was a total success, hot goose fat and all. We had a lovely time in San Diego, with all that great weather, and a less-than-awesome eleven-hour drive back to Oakland. And then we had a quiet New Years Eve at home, with cheese and bread and bubbly. The next morning I made Hoppin’ John for good luck, and we ate more cheese and drank more bubbly. And I was so grateful for another day before work started again.
That extra day gave me a chance to try something new in the kitchen: pork chops. I know pork chops are not new to most normal human beings. But they are new to me, or at least mostly. I did try to cook them once, back in the early days of this blog. I brined them, but they were very thin pork chops and ended up so salty they were inedible. After that, I shied away from pork chops, but it’s a New Year, and it’s time to try new things.
I bought these beautiful thick chops from Whole Foods, and spent a little time perusing the internet to figure out what to do with them. I was a little intimidated. But you know what? I really shouldn’t have been. They were easy (if a little bit messy). And boy, were they tasty. I’ve had some uninspiring pork chops in my life, and I blame the food industry and its attempts to produce ever leaner pigs. These chops weren’t dry and insipid. They were rimmed with a thick layer of delicious fatty fat, and that made them tastier.
Cooking thick-cut pork chops is really very simple: You want to sear them in a heavy skillet, with a little oil, for just 4 to 5 minutes on each side. Then add some broth and cover the pan so the chops can braise for about 15 minutes. This will ensure they are cooked all the way through, plus you can make a pan sauce with your broth while the pork chops rest and they’ll be extra tasty. Don’t be intimidated by the pork.
I made a very simple coleslaw and some potato pancakes to go with these chops, and all I can think of now is how much I want a pork and coleslaw sandwich. I’ll talk about that coleslaw and those potato pancakes soon. For now, I think you should focus on the pork.
Easy Thick-Cut Pork Chops
- 2 thick-cut pork chops (I bought pretty big chops)
- salt and pepper
- about 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
- 1 cup chicken broth
Bring the chops to room temperature. Heat the large skillet over medium-high heat, and once it’s hot, add a bit of oil. Keep your vent hood on, if you have one: This is going to be splatter-y. Salt and pepper the chops immediately before you cook them. You can also salt them the night before, if you’d like. But you want to either salt them right before they go in the pan, or at least 40 minutes before. Serious Eats is here to help you understand why. It’s worth a read.
When the oil is nice and hot, add the chops to the skillet. You want to make sure they aren’t crowded in there; they need room to breathe. Cook the chops for five minutes on one side, then flip them over and cook for another four minutes on the other side. Don’t move them around in between.
Add the broth to the pan, and cover it with a lid. Lower the heat to medium-low, and let those chops cook for about another 10 to 15 minutes. The best way to know if they’re ready is to use an instant read thermometer, and to remove them from the pan when they reach 145 degrees Fahrenheit. I had to keep the lid a little bit off the pan to get the temperature of my chops, and they were just fine.
If you don’t have a thermometer, give the chops a little poke. You want them to have a little bit of give. Simply Recipes is here to tell you how to use the touch test for meat. It’s worth a read. It’s also worth buying a thermometer.
Once the meat is done, remove it to a plate to rest (you can cover with foil to keep those chops warm). Now bring the heat back up to high and bring the stock in the pan to a rapid boil. Use a whisk (flat whisks are great for this) to scrape up all those delicious browned bits from the pan. Boil the stock until it’s reduced and thickened, and you have a great, simple pan sauce to drizzle over those chops.
I bought two chops, but because they were so big, we had enough meat for four people (which means we have leftovers for sandwiches, yay!).
It’s a New Year, and it’s time to try something new in your kitchen! What are you going to try?