With a successful braise, the whole is typically, and understandably, greater than the sum of its parts. This low, slow cooking method melds the flavors of the braising-liquid and the meat components to yield a dish with elevated layers of complementary flavors. Given the rather quick braise in this New York Times recipe, however, the individual parts, while good on their own, never achieved the synergy of a successful slow one. Yet despite its lack of greatness, this dish was nonetheless enjoyable.
The anchovies and rosemary made for a nuanced sauce; and the relatively brief braise yielded nicely cooked chops that may have been even juicier had I taken them from the oven a little sooner. (With the recipe’s 15-minute cook time, my chops exceeded the ideal 145°F for pork by about 5 degrees.) Unable to find satisfactory plum tomatoes, I used a can of imported San Marzano tomatoes, which I think made for a richer sauce. In fact, there was so much sauce that, together with the gargantuan-sized chops, we have plenty of left overs for a mid-week pasta dish. While we were dining, my better half commented that the dish reminded him of one of his favorite casual New York City Italian restaurant’s pork chops pizzaiola, and I had to agree totally.
I’ll probably make another attempt at this recipe with a few modifications: perhaps add some wine, cook at a lower temperature for a longer time, and if possible use some fattier heritage pork chops. Or maybe, we’ll just drop by that favorite Italian restaurant the next time we’re in NYC.
To accompany the chops, I prepared a simple polenta with a pinch or two of chopped rosemary. Our wine, was a Dolcetto d’Alba.
Braised Pork Chops With Tomatoes, Anchovies, and Rosemary (from a recipe by Melissa Clark in the New York Times)
2 1½-inch-thick bone-in pork loin chops (about 1½ pounds total)
¾ teaspoon kosher salt, more for seasoning pork
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, more for seasoning pork
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 red onion, halved and thinly sliced
3 large rosemary sprigs
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 pounds plum tomatoes (preferably a mix of red and yellow), roughly chopped (I substituted a can of imported San Marzano tomatoes.)
6 anchovy fillets
Polenta, noodles or rice, for serving (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Rinse pork chops and pat dry with a paper towel.
3. Season generously with salt and pepper.
4. In a large, ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat, place 1 tablespoon oil. Sear chops until well browned, 3 to 4 minutes a side. Transfer to a plate.
5. Add remaining tablespoon oil to skillet and sauté onion and rosemary until onions are golden, about 5 minutes.
6. Add garlic and cook for another minute.
7. Add tomatoes, anchovies and remaining salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes begin to break down, about 8 minutes. (Since I was using canned tomatoes, this step required only half the time.)
8. Add pork chops to skillet, spooning sauce over chops. Cover skillet and transfer to oven to bake until a thermometer inserted into center of meat reads 145 degrees, about 15 minutes. (When adding the pork chops, be sure to include any residual juices that may have accumulated on the plate.)
9. Allow chops to rest for 5 minutes in pan. If desired, serve with polenta, noodles or rice to soak up sauce.
Wine Pairing: Dolcetto d’Alba, Syrah