a marriage made in heaven

I don’t know why it took me almost five months to try this recipe for pork chops with pear and onion pan gravy, because as soon as I saw it, I knew I would love it. My Eastern European heritage means that I am, essentially, genetically programed to like a little fruit with my savory (especially when that savory involves pork): garlicky sausages with prunes, bacon with marmalade, ham salad with mango. It seems so wrong, but it tastes so right.

Pork Chops with Pan Gravy

This recipe is a new (to me, at least) twist on pork chops with applesauce. Here, the applesauce is replaced with a luscious pan gravy, overflowing with silky onions and soft, sweet bits of pear. As my sister is always telling me, doesn’t everything just taste better with gravy? Sometime I’ll tell you about her plans for a gravy-themed dinner party. But not now because right now I’m trying to encourage you to make delicious pork chops, not gross you out.

Pork Chops With Pear and Vidalia Pan Gravy
From The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook

Four 1 ¼” thick bone-in pork loin chops, trimmed of excess fat
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 ½ teaspoons flour
1 tablespoon peanut oil
1 ¼ cups thinly sliced Vidalia or other sweet onion (about 1 large)
1 cup Bartlett pears, peeled, cored and cut into ¼” dice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
¼ cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon dry sherry, Madeira or tawny port
1 teaspoon sherry vinegar

Preheat oven to 425º. In a small bowl, mix salt, pepper and ½ teaspoon of the flour. Sprinkle half the mixture on one side of each of the chops.

Heat peanut oil in an oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat until you start to see wisps of smoke. Place the chops, seasoned side down, in the skillet and sear until well-browned, about three minutes. Season the second side of the chops while in the pan with remaining salt/pepper/flour mixture. Turn chops and sear second side, about 3 minutes more. Move the skillet to the oven, and bake about 4 minutes for medium-rare chops.

Remove skillet from the oven and place on the stove. Remove chops to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm. Add the onion, half the pears and the butter to the skillet and cook, over medium-low heat, until the onions are soft and translucent, about 8 minutes. With a wooden spatula, move the onions around the pan, scraping up any brown bits on the bottom of the skillet.

In a small bowl, whisk together the broth and remaining 1 teaspoon flour. Add broth mixture, Madeira and vinegar to the skillet, and increase the heat to medium-high. Once the liquid comes to a simmer, add any juices that have collected on the plate with the resting chops. Simmer the gravy vigorously, until reduced by half, about 4 minutes. Turn off the heat, add remaining pears and taste for seasoning.

Serve each chop with a heaping spoonful of the pan gravy.

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