Friday, June 25, 2010

Balsamic Glazed Pork Chops that taste better than steak, and a new rating system!!

Okay, I know, it's almost a sin to declare that ANYTHING tastes better than steak, but this is not my sin, that is an exact quote from my husband, who typically doesn't even LIKE pork chops, let alone LOVE them. So, you know this recipe is good!

But, before we get to the actual recipe, I want to debut a new recipe rating system. I thought it might be nice to have a "quick and dirty" rating system for the recipes, that way if you don't have time to read the entire post (not like I'm longwinded or anything!), you can still get an idea of how I liked the recipe. Of course, you'll miss my witty banter, but if you can live with that, so can I. But, you had to know, I couldn't just do a simple "pros," and "cons" list. No, no, my friends. This here blog is THEMED. And so must be the quick list. So, instead of pros, and cons, we'll have "Hallelujahs," and "Hellfires." Obviously (or maybe not so obviously) the "Hallelujahs" are the equivalent of a "pro," and the "Hellfires," are the equivalent of the "cons."

This is another recipe that is inspired by a hometown favorite. What can I say? I'm feeling nostalgic this week. After my sophomore year of college, right before I dropped everything to move to Utah, and meet my soulmate, The Husband, I waited tables at an AMAZING Italian restaurant, called Bravo Cucina Italiana. The fact that there are no Bravo's on the west coast is a major problem, in my book. We were often short staffed, and I had nothing better to do with my summer, so I worked a LOT of double shifts. Which meant that in between my lunch/dinner shifts I would eat dinner at Bravo (or have martini's next door at Bossa Nova, but this is a family blog, and I may or may not have been underage, so we'll leave it at that.). Now you KNOW that the food at a particular restaurant is good if you eat it 4-5 nights a week, and serve it to guests, and you STILL want to go there for dinner the other 2-3 nights a week. Bravo food really is THAT good. Besides the Pasta Bravo, a delicious pasta with roasted red pepper cream sauce that I am planning on trying to recreate in the near future, their number one specialty is a an AMAZING butter, balsamic glazed, thick sliced pork chop. Literally it melts in your mouth.


Since I can't just hop a flight everytime I'm craving some Bravo (note to the Husband: please make us rich so I can hop a flight anytime I'm craving Ohio food), I decided to peruse the internet for a copycat recipe. While I couldn't find the exact recipe for Bravo's pork chops, the one that I did find is pretty amazing! According to the website that lists the recipe, it's originally a Rachael Ray recipe, but I can't vouch for how true that is. No matter who came up with it, it's truly great, though I'm not sure it really fits in the "30 minute meals" category. I do the recipe a little different than she does, namely I use more rosemary, and thyme, and more honey, as I wanted these to be sweeter, rather than more acidic. The recipe I will list is the way that I make it. If you want to see the original recipe, you can click the link below.

Hallelujahs Well, my pork-hating husband declared these "better than steak," so I'm pretty sure that counts as hallelujah; easy, fancy-looking, moist, and delicious
Hellfires A little more time consuming than typical fried pork chops, makes a big mess in my kitchen (both totally worth it, though!)

Bravo-Style Balsamic Glazed Pork Chops

1 package of bone-in pork chops (I use a big package, about 8-10 pork chops)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2-4 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (I just go around the pan 2-3 times)

1 medium onion, chopped

1-2 tablespoons of dried Rosemary

1-2 tablespoons of dried thyme

7-10 garlic cloves, chopped (depending on how much you love garlic)

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar (I actually measure this!)

5-8 tablespoons honey (depending on how sweet you like it)

2 cups chicken stock or broth

-First, pre-heat your electric skillet, or your stovetop skillet. Medium high, or so, you want to be able to get a good sear on the pork chops. Add your olive oil before heating.

- Then, salt and pepper your pork chops. Be liberal here, and don't be lazy, do both sides. I like to use kosher salt, or coarse-sea salt because it seems to stick better to the meats. (Got this tip from Pioneer Woman, so you know it's good!)


-Add seasoned pork chops to the pan, and cook for 5 minutes on each side. Because I use such a big packet of pork chops, I usually have to do this in two groups. Be sure to get a good sear on either side, and be sure to get them to 165* internal temperature. If you have thicker pork chops, this might take longer than 5 minutes.
**Note, you won't often hear me say to be exact on things, but trust me, you want to be SURE that your pork is cooked thoroughly. I just finished a microbiology class, and I've SEEN what can grow inside you if you don't. Trust me, it's worth the extra few minutes. In case you don't trust me, do a google image search for Trichinella spiralis.**


-While the pork chops sear, get to work chopping your onion. Personally, I chop it into large pieces, because I like put the glaze through a sifter to clarify it, and I don't want any chunks of onions slipping through.

-Once pork chops are seared on both sides, remove them to a plate, and cover them with a tin-foil tent. Let them rest while you finish the glaze.


-Take a look at all the rendered goodness from those chops! This is going to make your glaze delicious!


-Now, add your onions

-Next, add your thyme, and rosemary. I happen to LOVE rosemary, so I add a fair amount. But, I don't measure. I took a picture of how much I put in to give you an idea:


-Now, add your garlic. If you don't have a garlic press, buy one. Seriously, you can always chop it into tiny bits with a knife, but this is a LOT of work, especially for 6-8 garlic cloves. If you have a good garlic press (mine is Pampered Chef), you don't even have to peel the garlic. Perfect for the efficient (NOT lazy!) cook! The original recipe calls for 6 garlic cloves, but we happen to be a garlic loving family, so I add at least 8.


-Saute all of this together, stirring every now and again, until the onions start to look translucent.

-Next, whisk in your chicken broth, balsamic vinegar, and honey. Stir it around well, so the honey and balsamic are evenly incorporated.


-Now you're going to simmer this (whisking occasionally) until it reduces by half. Just about the time you start thinking "this is NEVER going to happen, it's not ever going to get thicker," it will thicken up. I promise, it will. It takes mine about 15 minutes or so, usually.


-Once the glaze is thickened, you're going to add your chops back in and coat them. Again, I have to do this in two groups. The original recipe says to just get them coated, and you're done, but as I already stated, I'm more than a little paranoid about my pork being cooked all the way, so I usually cook them for 2-3 minutes per side in the glaze. This way I know they're done, and there aren't any little unwelcome friends wriggling around in there.


-Then, I get out my sifter (not the kind with the trigger, just a plain old sifter), and push the glaze through it, removing all the onions, and many of the leftover herbs. This turns it into almost a gravy that I happen to love to pour over my butter-filled mashed potatoes, and chicken noodles.


Now if THIS doesn't look like a good meal, I don't know what does:


Original Recipe:

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