Aside from reading the CNN headlines on my homepage, I don't read many news articles. But I do try to read the New York Times dining section whenever I can. This past week, the NYT ran a short article about quickly braising a pair of pork chops for a quick but satisfying meal. (See article here: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/11/dining/11appe.html)
It just so happened that I had taken pork out for dinner. I am always looking for new pork chop recipes because I just think they are, on the whole, pretty boring. They are usually tough, and even when brined in salt water, still don't absorb much of the flavor of whatever you cook them with. But they're a change from chicken, and so I keep them in stock.
I read this article and thought it seemed simple enough, though I had never braised a thing before. And after doing this, I will definitely be braising many a pork chop in the future. Now, my braise didn't come out as brilliant looking as the perfectly crafted chop in the article. I made my own version of the sauce, and used boneless pork chops, which worked just fine (though on-the-bone would create impart a deeper pork flavor in the meat). I eliminated the anchovies because, honestly, who has anchovies just sitting on hand? To make this an everyday meal, I used garlic, canned tomatoes, chicken broth, and dried rosemary along with some salt and pepper.
Once braising the chops was finished, I skimmed the fat off the remaining sauce, and reserved a little of that fat, mixing it with cornstarch to make a roux. Then I heated the leftover braising liquid, added the roux, and let it reduce for another 2 minutes more. It was delicious. And I had even partially made up my own recipe.
I did make a few mistakes though. Here are the things to be aware of when preparing this dish (or any quick braise really):
1. Make sure the pan for browning the meat is nice and hot and that the meat is dry on the outside. This will create that sweet caramelization on the outside that looks and tastes great.
2. Put enough braising liquid that reaches about half way up the meat. If you go too much further, the liquid won't reduce enough. It will still taste good, but just won't look as good.
3. Don't let the liquid run out either! Check it every so often so the pan does not scortch.
Bring on those pork chops.