Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Pork Chops and Pan Sauce

So here’s the thing. I love to cook. I’m a terrible multi-tasker in the kitchen. I can cook one dish really well, but if you ask me to make sides with it, things usually get pretty crazy. This meal actually turned out semi-okay, minus the slightly undercooked asparagus, but that’s only because Julia Child is a goddess (I used a recipe from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, which Matt gave to me for Christmas).

First, a disclaimer: I am not a huge fan of instant mashed potatoes, but when I’m cooking a new recipe or one that’s a bit complicated, they’re a huge time-saver. I don’t like to admit it, but sometimes, a girl has to compromise her culinary standards.

- 4 tbsp cooking oil
- 2 pork chops, about an inch thick
- dried thyme, about ¼ tsp
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2-3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 1 bundle asparagus
- 1 package instant mashed potatoes
- ½ cup beef broth or stock
- salt and pepper

Julia’s recipe originally calls for you to roast the pork in a casserole dish in the oven, but I modified this for the stovetop. It’s just easier when you’re cooking for two.

Heat the oil in a large skillet; while it’s heating, dry the chops with a paper towel (Julia says this is the key to getting a good browning on this, or any, meat). Brown the pork on all sides, just a couple minutes on each. Season with salt, pepper and the thyme and set on a side dish for now.

Pour the oil out of the pan. (I transferred it into a separate pot in the sink to cool, then threw it in the trash. Just in case your mother never warned you, NEVER pour cooking oil down your sink drain.) Add the butter and garlic. After the butter melts, add the chops back to the pan and baste with melted butter. (Oh my gosh, I’m drooling as I type this and I just ate it last night. I love butter.) Cover the skillet with a large lid and cook for about five minutes.

Flip the chops and baste again (mmm), then cover and cook for another four to five minutes. The chops are done, according to Julia, if you make a deep cut next to the bone and the juice runs clear or yellowish, with no red. Easy way: get a meat thermometer for $3 at Walmart. Pork is fully cooked at 160 degrees. Put them back on the side plate and cover with foil.

Pour the broth into the skillet and bring to a high boil to deglaze the pan, making sure you scrape up all the browned bits at the bottom. Let the mixture reduce slightly as it boils.

Meanwhile, trim the ends off the asparagus and drop into a pot of salted, boiling water just before the five minutes is up. Mix the potatoes into a second pot of boiling water; cover and let rest while everything else is cooking. The asparagus should blanch in the water for about four to five minutes, I think. I didn’t cook mine quite long enough at three minutes. After blanching, give them a quick dip in ice water to stop the cooking.

Just before serving, drizzle some of the chops’ pan juice over everything. I also drizzled some butter over the asparagus, but that’s just because it’s the only way I’ll eat my veggies. Yum.

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