This recipe took a long time to perfect. I under-cooked the meat, and I over-cooked the meat. Yikes! Those of a certain age will surely remember juicy pork chops as a regular dinner item when we were growing up. Things have changed. Specifically, pork has changed. It's much leaner now, which means that it's all too often a dry, tough mess.
The sauce turned out to be much easier than the meat. The problem was the thickness of the meat. First, I found lovely pork chops about one-inch thick. Unfortunately, after that, I only found super-thick cuts and my grocery store doesn't cut them for their customers. What you see in their case is what you get.
So, after under-cooking those whoppers, I decided the chops had to be treated like thick steaks, searing them on both sides first, then finishing them in the oven. I tried again with 1 1/2 to 2-inch pork chops. But this time I read some recipes. A very famous chef recommended cooking them in the oven for 40 minutes. Disaster! We might as well have been eating our shoes.
I was beginning to think I would have to change what Sophie was serving her friends for dinner. The perfect thick pork chop eluded me. But I tried one more time. Eureka! Success!
So here's the thing. If you have chops that are one-inch thick, sear them on both sides about 3 minutes, cover them for another couple of minutes and that's it. However, when they are very thick, one and a half to two-inches thick, they need to be seared for 4 minutes on each side and finished in the oven for no longer than 10 minutes! In fact, 10 minutes is the outside number. Check their internal temperature at about 8 minutes. You want them to be about 135-140. Remember that they keep cooking for a few minutes when they're removed from the oven. Take them out and let them stand so they reach 145. If they go any higher than 150, you'll have shoe soles.
One other caution. You can buy the little airplane size bottle of bourbon. But do not buy a flavored Bourbon. Trust me. The artificial flavor overtakes the sauce.
Thick Pork Chops with Apple Bourbon Cream Sauce
(makes 2, double recipe for 4)
2 tablespoons high temperature oil like sunflower (not olive oil!)
2 two-inch thick pork chops
salt and pepper
1 cup apple cider or apple juice
1 1/2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
1 tablespoon bourbon
1/2 cup heavy cream
Wash the pork chops and dry with paper towels. Salt and pepper both sides. Let them rest on the kitchen counter. Heat a heavy pan on medium high for about three to four minutes. Meanwhile, line a lipped baking tray with foil and slide it into the oven. Preheat the oven to 425.
Add the oil to the pan on the stove. Give it a minute to heat up and then add the pork chops. Brown on each side for 4 minutes. Remove the browned chops to the hot baking pan and roast.
Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the liquid in the pan. Pour in the apple juice and scrape up any bits sticking to the pan (de-glaze). Add the brown sugar, mustard, and bourbon. Bring to a simmer, stirring as needed.
Check the internal temperature of the meat after 8 minutes. You're shooting for 135-145. When it reaches the correct temperature, remove from the pan and let stand for 5-10 minutes.
Just before serving, remove the pan with the sauce from the heat, stir in the cream, and pour over the pork chops to serve.
|Thick pork chops.|
|Sear on both sides.|
|Make the sauce.|
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