Recently it seems that dishes from my childhood are finding their way to our dinner table. Whether it’s nostalgia or appetite that’s to blame, I’m not sure. But, as with last night’s pork chops with vinegar peppers, one of my mother’s favorites, reliving my past through food is always a pleasure.
For quite some time now, I’ve been trying to recreate this dish with varying degrees of success. Most of my attempts have yielded good results, but last night’s was the closest I’ve come to duplicating my mother’s. Most of the recipes I’ve read, and there are many for this Italian-American favorite, call for hot cherry peppers or pickled pepperoncini. However, my mother never used them and opted for pickled bell peppers, whose sweetness she tempered with cider vinegar.
Despite being cooked for a longer time than is fashionable these days, my mother’s chops were always moist and succulent. But back then, hogs were bred more for flavor than leanness. In order to recapture this quality, I use heritage pork when available that’s sourced locally.
The only hurdle left in trying to duplicate this dish perfectly is finding the brand of peppers she used, namely B and G Sweet Vinegar Peppers. Although last night’s Roland brand’s were good, they somehow were not just the same.
Pork Chops with Sweet Vinegar Peppers
2 1-inch thick, bone-in pork chops
Fresh ground pepper
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, peeled and lightly smashed
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 whole red long peppers, sliced 1-inch thick
Dry the chops well with paper towels and season one side with salt, pepper, and a small pinch of sugar
Heat the oil and garlic clove in a sauté pan large enough to hold the chops comfortably.
When the oil is hot, add the chops seasoned side down and brown for about 5 minutes. Season the top side with salt and pepper, and then turn and brown on the second side for about another 5 minutes. Be sure to remove the garlic when it starts to brown.
When the chops are browned, place them on a plate and discard most of the fat from the pan, retaining a tablespoon.
Add the wine and the vinegar, scraping up any of the browned bit on the bottom of the pan. Return the chops, along with any juices from the plate, to the pan turning once to coat with sauce. Add the sliced peppers, cover, and cook over low heat for about 5 to 8 minutes or until the chops are cooked.
I served the chops last night with some of the sweetest summer corn I’ve had this season. Thought not a traditional accompaniment, it provided a perfect counterpoint to the savory chops.
Wine Pairing: Syrah, Chardonnay