October 8, 2013
A generation ago, pork chops were quite rich and fatty.
But modern-day engineering has turned pork chops into that other white meat. They have very little fat and, consequently, very little flavor.
Accordingly, one of today's standard-issue supermarket pork chops is suited for sauce.
Fine, you say, but isn't it going to take me a ton of time and effort to make a good sauce?
Pan sauces are speedy to make, and that's what this recipe calls for.
A pan sauce is built from the concentrated bits of juice left in the bottom of a skillet after you've seared a protein. Transforming those flavorful little nuggets into a sauce requires nothing more intricate than dissolving them with the aid of a liquid, usually wine and stock, and adding some extra flavor, often in the form of sauteed shallots or onions. This template works not only for pork, but for all thin cuts of chicken, lamb, veal and beef.
Still, you're going to want to thicken this sauce. If I were working with a home-made chicken stock, this wouldn't be a problem. But I'm trying to get dinner on the table on a weeknight, so I typically use store-bought chicken broth, which lacks the gelatin that thickens a sauce.
What to do? Coat the chops with flour, preferably Wondra. It will not only thicken the sauce, but keep the meat from drying out even as it provides a crisper crust than regular all-purpose flour.
The big flavor in this sauce comes from the grapes and the mustard. Pure pleasure aside, grapes are also a terrific source of resveratrol, the powerful antioxidant found in wine.
So, in one quick, economical and widely adaptable recipe you get big flavor, good health and a pan gravy.
SAUTEED PORK CHOPS AND GRAPES WITH MUSTARD SAUCE
Yield: 4 servings
Four 1/2-inch-thick boneless pork chops (about 1 pound total), trimmed of any fat Kosher salt and ground black pepper Wondra flour, for dredging the pork chops 1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided 1/4 cup finely chopped yellow onion 1 cup seedless red or green grapes, halved 1/4 cup dry white wine 3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth 1/2 teaspoon packed dark brown sugar 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Season the pork chops on both sides with salt and pepper. One at a time, dip the pork chops in the flour, coating them well on both sides but shaking off the excess.
In a large skillet over medium-high, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add the chops to the pan and cook until lightly browned on the first side, about 2 minutes. Add the remaining oil to the skillet, turn the chops and cook for 1 minute on the second side. Transfer them to a plate; cover loosely with foil.
Add the onion and grapes to the skillet, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring often, until the onions are golden brown, about 3 to 4 minutes. Increase the heat to high, add the wine and bring to a boil. Simmer, stirring, until the wine is reduced to 1 tablespoon. Add the stock and sugar and simmer until the broth is reduced by half.
Reduce the heat to medium-low, return the pork to the skillet, along with any juices that have accumulated on the plate and simmer very gently, turning the pork several times, for 1 minute. Transfer each pork chop to a serving plate. Add the mustard to the sauce, whisking, then season with salt and pepper. Pour the sauce evenly over each portion and serve right away.