Here’s turning a conventional cooking method upside down. Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated, the salted pork chops are first cooked in a low oven, then seared in a smoking pan. Slowly cooking the meat allowed enzymes to break down protein, tenderizing the chops. The salted surface gently dried out in the oven and became beautifully caramelized in the pan.
I know this recipe calls for bone-in loin pork chops, but we happened to have four, thick boneless loin chops in our freezer and went ahead and used them. It’s essential to keep an acute eye on the temperature when using boneless chops since they tend to take a bit longer to come to temperature, however, this method didn’t tend to make a difference.
TIP: Buy chops of similar thickness so that they cook at the same rate.
Pan-Seared Pork Chops with Chive-Thyme Pan Sauce
- 4 bone-in rib loin pork chops, 1 1/2 inches thick (about 12 ounces each)
- Kosher salt and ground black pepper
- 1 – 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
Garlic and Thyme Pan Sauce
- 1 large shallot, minced (about 4 Tbsp.)
- 2 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 2 tsp.)
- ¾ cup chicken broth
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 1 tsp. minced fresh thyme leaves
- ¼ tsp. white wine vinegar
- 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 3 pieces
- Table salt and ground black pepper
- Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 275°F. Pat chops dry with paper towels.
- Using sharp knife, cut 2 slits, about 2 inches apart, through outer layer of fat and silver skin. Sprinkle entire surface of each chop with 1 teaspoon salt. Place chops on wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet and let stand at room temperature 45 minutes.
- Season chops liberally with pepper; transfer baking sheet to oven. Cook until instant-read thermometer inserted into centers of chops and away from bones registers 120° to 125°F, 30 to 45 minutes.
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil in 12-inch heavy-bottomed skillet over high heat until smoking. Place 2 chops in skillet and sear until well browned and crusty, 1½ to 3 minutes, lifting once halfway through to redistribute fat underneath each chop. (Reduce heat if browned bits in pan bottom start to burn.) Using tongs, turn chops and cook until well browned on second side, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Transfer chops to plate and repeat with remaining 2 chops, adding extra tablespoon oil if pan is dry.
- Reduce heat to medium. Use tongs to stand 2 pork chops on their sides. Holding chops together with tongs, return to skillet and sear sides of chops (with exception of bone side) until browned and instant-read thermometer inserted into center of chop and away from bone registers 140 to 145 degrees, about 1½ minutes.
- Repeat with remaining 2 chops. Let chops rest, loosely tented with foil, for 10 minutes while preparing sauce.
- Pour off all but 1 teaspoon oil from the pan and return pan to medium heat. Add the shallot and garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until softened, about 1 minute.
- Add the broth and wine, scraping up any browned bits. Bring to a simmer and cook until the sauce measures 1/2 cup, 6 to 7 minutes. Off heat, stir in the thyme and vinegar; whisk in the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve with the pork chops.
Adapted from a recipe in Cook’s Illustrated