Chop ‘Til You Drop

I’m back safe and sound from my holiday hiatus and ready to power through (and share with you) the backlog of festive fare I enjoyed along the way.  A hint for the coming weeks: vacation activities included wrestling some gigantic fish from the deep blue sea. But I digress, as today we’ll be talking about the finest and most scrumptious of land animals, the humble pig. I admit that as a child I adored pigs, and abstained from pork out of a sense of blind love for their cute ears and curly tails (see below). I simply could not eat something so downright lovable.

“I need someone to pet me and love me, please.” I mean, come on! I’m shedding a tear as we speak.

And then… the spell was broken one fateful Sunday morning. The sweet siren song of frying bacon, beat my 8-year-old morals into submission and I was gone to the dark side, never to return.

I spent the next few years making up for lost time, enjoying the fruits of all hammy things, including the aforementioned breakfast meats, tenderloins, ribs, and the wonderful, versatile pork chop.

The beauty of the chop is that you can get a truly excellent thick-cut piece of meat and make something marvelous, or you can get a thin-cut grocery store fire-sale chop and make something truly lovely in its own right. Today, we’ll do the latter.

Inspired by my mom’s epic fennel seed-encrusted pork chops (which are sure to appear here one day) we’ll do an adaptation that includes roasted  fennel bulbs (with tomato because I’m still really into roasted tomatoes). Because it’s a perfect combination, and hey, if you’re going to completely sell out your beliefs, you better do it in style.

The recipe: Flash-in the-pan pork chops with roasted fennel and tomatoes

The Time Commitment: Less than it takes for me to write this post (appx. 45 minutes sans distraction)

Mental Effort:  Like Sudoku in an airplane magazine

The Must Have’s:

The pork

  • Four boneless pork chops roughly 1″ thick
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tablespoon oregano or italian seasoning
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • Crushed red pepper and salt to taste

The roasted fennel

  • 1 medium sized fennel bulb with fronds
  • 1 pint of grape or cherry tomatoes
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Three cloves garlic

The Steps:

  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees , or, if you’re just in it for the pork, skip down…
  • Slice off green fennel fronts (dark green leafy looking part) and set aside.
  • Cut off green stalks and discard,  slicing white bulb into thin cross-sections

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  • Place whole cherry tomatoes, peeled garlic cloves, and fennel on the bottom of a flat, oven-safe dish or baking sheet
  • Apply a liberal dose of olive oil, crushed red pepper, and salt and place in oven for 30 minutes – stirring once
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See previous post, Saucy Gal, for similar goodness
  • Remove your roasted toasted goodness from the oven after 30 minutes, in the meantime, make the pork

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The Pork Only

  • Heat a large non-stick skillet on medium-high (depending on stove, medium may be hot enough)
  • Pat pork chops with a small amount of parmesan cheese, discarding cheese that does  not stick
  • Combine flour, oregano, and a shake of salt and crushed red pepper and spread across a dinner plate

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  • Drag the pork chops through the mixture, thinly coating each side with flour and spicesDSC_0549
  • Drizzle olive oil in the bottom of the hot skillet – oil should appear thin in consistency and show small bubbles, but pan should not smoke
  • Place pork chops inside
  • Cook for 3-4 minutes until chops begin to brown
  • Drizzle top side of pork chop with oil, flip, and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes
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Drizzle
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And flip… please note, these should be browner. More heat was applied for this side.
  • Plate your pork chops, and sprinkle with fennel fronds – eat up!

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