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Braised Pork Chops with Peppers and Onions

Typically we buy things on sale at the market and Dave's Market usually has the extra lean, boneless center cut pork chops on sale.  This cut is perhaps the leanest cut and, without the rib bone, end up cooking dry and tough.

This recipe came to me after doing some quick reading between three America's Test Kitchen books: BBQ and Grilling Guide, American Classics, and Italian Classics.  Having bought the above mentioned chops I was looking for a way to cook them.  Every single recipe in the Cook's guides called for bone-in chops between 1/2 - 3/4" thick because the bone lends the chop to be juicier.  Not having this particular chop did not deter me.  I combined a couple methods to turn my lean, boneless chop into one that was flavorful and tender.

First, I brined my chops.  The brine ratio to use is: 1lb pork = 1 quart water + 2 tbs sugar + 2 tbs table salt.  Brine the chops for 1 hour.

Next I prepared my vegetables.  The Cook's Italian cookbook had a recipe for chops and peppers, the American Classics had one "smothered" with onions.  Since I am American with Italian decent, I decided to use both.  Slice two onions, about 1/2lb total, pole to pole.  Slice one green pepper into strips approximately 1/2 to 1 inch thick.  Set these aside.

The American Classics "smothered" recipe called for a simple salt and pepper rub.  But I was forgoing some of the aromatics in that recipe, like the thyme.  I decided to flavor boost my chops by using the BBQ Rub for Pork found in the BBQ and Grilling cookbook.  I keep some on hand in the summer months so I had this prepared before hand.

When the chops were done brining I set a large skillet with 2 - 4 tbs of vegetable oil on high/medium high heat.  Then I took out my chops, dried them thoroughly and rubbed them down with the BBQ Rub for Pork.

I put them in the pan and seared them for 2 minutes on each side and then set them aside on a plate.  Then I turned the heat down to medium low and added my onions, peppers and a 1/4 tsp of sugar.  When the onions had browned slightly I added 1 minced garlic clove.  I mixed this together and cooked for 30 seconds longer.

At this point my chops were not fully cooked and I had to finish cooking them somehow.  The American Classics recipe uses the braising technique to finish cooking the chops.  Lending from that recipe, I added 1 cup of homemade chicken broth to my vegetables.  You can substitute with low-sodium chicken broth.  Then I placed my chops on top of the peppers and onions, inserted a thermometer probe and covered.

I estimated that since my chops lacked a bone and were not as thick as the ones in the American Classics recipe, they would cook in about half the time.  I was about right, but I used the thermometer to be sure.  Once the chops reached 165 I took everything out of the pan.

Here is my rant on Cook's Illustrated and American Test Kitchen: They have backwards sometimes.  I would argue that the majority of people don't have time to make decent a meal during the week that takes more than one pan.  We're busy, impatient people and if it can be done in one pan, so much the better.  The American Classics recipe has you first make a sauce in one pan, then add the sauce to the chops to braise in another pan.  This seems kind of ridiculous and a waste.

I used the liquid in my pan to make a sauce.  I added 1 tbs of unsalted butter to the remaining liquid in my pan and turned the heat to high/medium-high.   I used a whisk to whisk in the butter and then sifted about 1/4 cup of flour, whisking all the while, until the sauce was thickened.  I did not use all the flour, your mileage may vary.  The trick is to add a little at a time.

That's it!  I plated the chops, onions and peppers and then added the sauce on top.  The chops were cooked through, moist, and tender, even if a bit lean.  The BBQ flavor of the rub with the onions and peppers was an interesting mix.  Several techniques were used, including: searing, braising, roux making, and brining.

Recipe:
1/2 lb onions, sliced pole to pole.
1 green bell pepper, sliced into 1/2" to 1" strips
1 medium garlic clove, minced
4 1/2" center cut, boneless chops, about 1.5lbs
Cook's Illustrated BBQ Rub for Pork
4 tbs vegetable oil
1 cup chicken stock
1 tbs unsalted butter

Brined the chops for one hour.  The brine ratio to use is: 1lb pork = 1 quart water + 2 tbs sugar + 2 tbs table salt.

Prepare the vegetables.  Slice two onions, about 1/2lb total, pole to pole.  Slice one green pepper into strips approximately 1/2 to 1 inch thick.  Set these aside.

Make the BBQ Rub for Pork found in the Cook's Illustrated BBQ and Grilling cookbook.

When the chops were done brining set a large skillet with 2 - 4 tbs of vegetable oil on high/medium high heat.

Remove chops from brine, pat dry thoroughly with paper towel and rub with the BBQ Rub for Pork.

Place chops in pan and sear for 2 minutes on each side and then set aside on a plate.

Turn the heat down to medium low and add onions, peppers and a 1/4 tsp of sugar.  When onions have browned slightly add 1 minced garlic clove.  Stir and cook for 30 seconds.

Add 1 cup of homemade chicken broth to pan.  You can substitute with low-sodium chicken broth.

Place chops on top of the peppers and onions, insert a thermometer probe and cover.

Chops will be done in about 15 minutes, or test with a thermometer until chops reach 165.  Remove peppers, onions and chops from pan, set aside.

Turn heat to high/medium-high.

Using a whisk, whisk in 1 tbs unsalted butter.

Whisk in about 1/4 cup of sifted flour until the sauce is thickened.  I did not use all the flour, your mileage may vary.  The trick is to add a little at a time.  When sauce is thickened, pour over chops or serve on the side.
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