Agrodolce is a traditional sweet and sour sauce in Italian cuisine. Its name comes from “agro” (sour) and “dolce” (sweet). This fact alone caught my attention. Then put it together with thick, plump, juicy bone-in pork chops, and you can’t go wrong.
The Italian sweet-and-sour sauce is considered a type of gastrique, a thick sauce made from vinegar, wine, sugar, and fruit. The traditional version is comprised of two parts vinegar to one part wine; balsamic is the most common vinegar, while any quality red or white wine can be used.
Just look at these golden, mouth-watering chops!
Agrodolce can also be infused with a variety of herbs, adding depth of flavor, and expanding the variety of dishes the sauce can complement. While the base of this sauce is almost always the same, the numerous choices in additions and variations make it versatile enough to suit both savory and sweet foods.
So versatile in fact, it can be used as both a pasta sauce or finishing sauce for a variety of dishes. In Sicily, it is a favorite topping for grilled meats as well as a simple pasta sauce. In mainland Italy, agrodolce is commonly used as a glaze or a dipping sauce for antipasto. In both mainland Italy and Sicily, sautéed pearl onions are tossed in the sweet-and-sour sauce and served as a side dish. It can also make a good addition to cheese boards, often as a dipping sauce for both mild and stronger flavored cheeses.
Our version came courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis, of Food Network fame. We seared the chops in a carbon steel skillet as opposed to using the grill pan—well, because we didn’t have one! Thankfully, you don’t spend too much time prepping or cooking because the entree comes together fairly quickly. Our sides weren’t too time-intensive either as we served baked sweet potatoes and steamed green beans with a drizzle of a flavored olive oil and vinegar.
Our dinner guest, son David, was the glad recipient of the dinner—and leftovers.
- 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 3 tablespoons honey, such as acacia
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 4 thick, center-cut pork loin chops, bone-in (about 12 ounces each)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
Season the pork chops evenly on both sides with salt and pepper.
Sear the first side until nicely browned, about 5 minutes.
Flip the chops and grill for an additional 5 minutes on the second side.
Baste the chops with some of the sauce and then continue basting and flipping until the chops are caramelized and slightly charred.
When ready, remove the chops to a platter and allow to rest for 10 minutes.
- Combine the vinegar, garlic and thyme in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Continue to simmer until reduced by half, about 5 minutes.
- Add the honey and simmer until the mixture has thickened slightly, another 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the butter and set aside.
- Preheat a grill pan over medium-high heat.
- Season the pork chops evenly on both sides with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Drizzle with the olive oil and place on the hot grill pan. Grill the first side until nicely browned, about 5 minutes.
- Flip the chops and grill for an additional 5 minutes on the second side. Baste the chops with some of the sauce and then continue basting and flipping until the chops are caramelized and slightly charred and the meat registers 150 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer.
- Remove the chops to a platter and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Serve drizzled with the remaining sauce.