Oh how I love pork chops. And yet this was the first time I’ve made them. My dad makes really good pork chops and it’s always difficult for me to make something for the first time that my dad has a special recipe for. But rather than try his recipe, I found one in my new favorite cookbook, Weeknights With Giada, as well as a delicious sounding side dish, wilted spinach with tomatoes and basil. Unfortunately there was absolutely NO basil to be found. Anywhere. I swear. All the produce guys I spoke with said the cold snap from the previous week took a toll on the basil shipments and they didn’t get any in. Boo! Oh well, I’d survive. Not only was I making pork chops for the first time, I was also going to be using my new deep skillet for the first time! (Yes, I was geeking out.) While each recipe was fairly simple, I didn’t do proper prep work and so my pork chops were done way before my spinach and tomatoes were. And because I was focused too much on my spinach, my pork chops were sitting a little too long, and while they were still yummy, I should have taken them off the heat a few minutes sooner. C’est la vie! Next time they will be even juicier! Oh, and the sweet and sour glaze is delicious and I’ve used it on chicken and salmon since then. (And yes, those are my new bamboo cutting boards!)
SPICED PORK CHOPS WITH SWEET AND SOUR GLAZE (4 servings)
- 4 Boneless Pork Chops, about 1 inch thick
- 1/4 Cup Olive Oil
- Salt & Pepper
- 1 Tsp Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
- 1/2 Cup Balsamic Vinegar
- 1/2 Cup Honey
- 2 Garlic Cloves
- 3 Scallions
- 1 Tsp Fresh Rosemary Leaves
- 4 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
Season both sides of your pork chops with the salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Sprinkle about 1/4 tsp of salt and red pepper flakes and about half that of black pepper for each chop. In a large skillet (should be big enough to hold all four pork chops) heat your oil over medium high heat. Once the pan is hot, place your chops in and cook about 8 minutes on each side. Then remove to a large plate or platter and cover with foil until ready to serve.
When you put your pork chops into the pan start on the sweet and sour glaze. If you don’t want so much extra (I still have about 1/2 cup in my fridge) then only make half this recipe. (I will probably do this next time.) Mince your garlic, chop your rosemary leaves and chop your scallions finely.
Only use the white and pale green parts of the scallions though, that’s where all the flavors lie. You can chop the dark green part and use as garnish. In a small saucepan or pot, combine your balsamic vinegar, honey, garlic, scallions, and rosemary over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally until the honey has dissolved. Lower the heat all the way down and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes. By this time you should have turned your pork chops over. The sauce should reduce slightly. Make sure your butter is at room temperature. It should be soft enough to easily squeeze with your fingers. Cut the butter into about 1/2 inch cubes. Remove from the heat and whisk in your butter until the sauce is nice and smooth and all the butter has melted. Your sauce and chops should finish at the same time.
WILTED SPINACH WITH TOMATOES AND BASIL (6 servings)
- 1 Pint Cherry Tomatoes
- 3 Tbsp Olive Oil
- 1 Large Shallot
- 2 Garlic Cloves
- 1 Pound Fresh Spinach Leaves
- 1/2 Tsp Salt
- 1/2 Tsp Black Pepper
- 1/4 Cup Balsamic Vinegar
- 1/3 Cup Chopped Fresh Basil Leaves (which I didn’t have)
Do your prep work first (when you are prepping your pork chops). Thinly slice your shallot, cut your tomatoes in half, and mince your garlic. Also chop your basil leaves. In a large skillet heat your oil over medium-high heat. Add in your shallots and cook for about 3 minutes, until they are soft and starting to turn translucent. Add in your garlic and cook briefly until you can smell it then add in your tomatoes and cook for another two minutes. In handfuls add in your spinach and stir slowly until wilted, about 5-7 minutes. Turn heat down to low, salt and pepper and stir in the balsamic vinegar and basil leaves. Let simmer for about a minute. Start this dish once you turn your pork chops over and you’ve turned the heat down on your sauce. It should all end about the same time. I only used about half a pound of the spinach and half a pint of tomatoes so I wouldn’t have too much leftover. (Re-heating cooked spinach isn’t always the best, it’s best fresh from the stove.)
Pour a large spoonful or two (depending on your spoon) over your pork chops and enjoy! I paired this with a red wine I already had open, Poggiotondo Rosso Toscana 2010.