Spend enough time doing anything and eventually you find what works for you. From the way you manage your finances to how you cook a pork chop. For as long as I can remember, I only ever knew two kinds of chops. They were either tough and dry or gummy.
Tough and dry was the result of being cooked beyond recognition in a frying pan. I’m not talking about a tough exterior with done pork in the middle. No, I’m talking about a pork chop shaped hockey puck that could, quite possibly, destroy years worth of dental work. That’s how Grandma made them most of the time.
When they weren’t pan fried into oblivion, they were breaded and baked. I’ll be honest, there are days when I do fondly remember the Shake n Bake. But not to the point that I would put a box of it in my grocery cart. The gummy coating and chewable pork was just a nice change.
So I avoided pork chops for the longest time. We would run into each other occasionally in magazines and cookbooks, but I wasn’t ready to face my past. And then Cook’s Illustrated brought us back together. They showed me that it was possible to have the best of both worlds – moist on the inside and nicely browned on the outside. The secret is salting, slow roasting, and finishing in a smoking hot frying pan. Seems like a lot of fuss but the results are nearly foolproof. It may not be the quickest recipe, but it’s become my go-to way to make chops, my foundation if you will.
The thing about having a solid foundation, is that you can dress it up a million different ways. So when I came across The Minimalist’s recipe for pork chops with miso sauce, there was no question what I was going to do. I was going to take the CI foundation and The Minimalist’s design to build a monumental pork chop.
I may not have a degree in science or engineering, but for this kind of fusion, you don’t need one.
Pan Seared Thick Cut Pork Chops with Miso Sauce
From Cook’s Illustrated and Mark Bittman
This recipe uses pork that has not been enhanced with a salt solution. If you can only find enhanced pork, skip the salting step below. If using table salt instead of Kosher, only use 1/2 teaspoon per chop. I added caramelized onions to the sauce after the wine had reduced. This made the sauce a little thick so be sure to keep a little extra wine handy in case you need to add more.
- 4 bone-in pork chops, 1 to 1/2 inch thick
- 1 to 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- Kosher salt
- 1 cup hearty red wine
- 2 tablespoons red miso
Pat chops dry with paper towels. Using a sharp knife, cut 2 slits, about 2 inches apart, through outer layer of fat and silver skin to keep chops from twisting and buckling. Place chops on a wire rack set in a rimmed baking sheet and sprinkle entire surface of each chop with 1 teaspoon Kosher salt. Let stand at room temperature for 45 minutes.
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 275 degrees. Place baking sheet with chops in the oven and cook until an instant read thermometer, inserted into center of chops and away from bones, registers 120 to 125 degrees, 30 to 45 minutes.
Once chops are out of the oven, heat 1 tablespoon oil in a 12 inch heavy bottomed skilled over high heat until smoking. Place 2 chops in skilled and sear until well browned and crusty, 1 1/2 to 3 minutes, lifting halfway through to redistribute fat and oil. 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 chops on their sides. Holding chops together with tongs, return chops to skillet and sear sides (except for the bone side) until browned and instant read thermometer inserted into center of chop, away from the bone, registers 140 to 145 degrees, about 1 1/2 minutes. Repeat with remaining 2 chops. Let chops rest, loosely covered with foil, while preparing the sauce.
Pour off oil from pan used to cook the chops and return to medium heat. Add wine to pan and cook, stirring occasionally to loosen any bits of meat that have stuck to the pan, until the wine reduces by about half. Turn heat to low and add miso. Stir or whisk until smooth.
Spoon sauce over chops and serve.