Cooking Chops

I love pork chops. I was raised on them and have enjoyed nearly every tweak on them you can imagine. But there is a difference between today's pork chops and those of my childhood: today's pork is much leaner. That's good, because it means enjoying pork is a healthy option. However, it's also very easy to overcook this lean meat, especially if you're preparing boneless chops. So this time around, I'm offering my favorite way to serve boneless loin chops:

Those chops are seared in a fairly hot pan for less than 10 minutes. Those of you thinking you need to cook them for at least twice as long, this is why you are chewing on chops with a texture like sawdust. These lean chops need only a few minutes of heat to be cooked through. That's part of the beauty of this recipe: it highlights just how little time on the stove the meat needs.

The onions, on the other hand, spend nearly 3 times as long on the stove. Anyone telling you that you can properly caramelize onions in under 10 minutes is selling the amazing texture and flavor of true caramelized onions short. Take your time with the onions and let the chops benefit from the amazing pan juices left once you remove them from the pan. Then, while your chops rest — this step is not optional — add a bit of balsamic vinegar to your onions and let a thick glaze form. Next stop, culinary bliss!

Balsamic Onion Pork Chops

  • 3 T. olive oil, divided
  • 1 large yellow onion, cut in half and thinly sliced crosswise
  • 4 boneless pork loin chops (1 to 1-1/2 inches thick)
  • 1 T. kosher salt
  • 2 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1/3 c. balsamic vinegar

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a very large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until soft and caramelized, about 20 minutes (if the onions start to burn, reduce the heat to medium low). Transfer the onion to a bowl and set aside.

Pat the pork chops dry with paper towels and rub both sides with the salt and pepper. Return the pan to the burner, add the remaining olive oil, and increase the heat to medium high until the oil is hot but not smoking. Cook the chops until well browned on one side, 3 to 5 minutes. Turn and cook the other side until the meat is done, 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer the chops to a plate, tent with foil, and let rest for 3 to 5 minutes before serving.

Meanwhile, put the pan back over medium heat and add the balsamic vinegar and caramelized onions (if you used two pans for the chops, use just one for the onions). Simmer, scraping the pan with a wooden spoon, until the vinegar is reduced enough to just coat the onions, 2 to 3 minutes. Serve immediately with the pork chops.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 45 minutes