“If I had to narrow my choice of meats down to one for the rest of my life, I am quite certain that meat would be pork.” – James Beard
I am inclined to agree with the late James Beard so this installment of “Fast & Fabulous” features Provençal Pork Chops, a recipe which incorporates the delicious flavors of the South of France and juicy, pan-seared pork chops. As with all of our Fast & Fabulous recipes, it can be prepared in well under an hour and we’ve also included a Sommelier-selected wine pairing to further enhance your enjoyment of the dish.
Which type of pork chop to use in this or any other recipe basically comes down to personal preference. Personally, I’m a fan of “bone-in” chops as opposed to “boneless” since meat cooked on the bone is practically guaranteed to be succulent and juicy while boneless cuts can dry out faster resulting in tougher meat. There are a variety of bone-in and boneless choices, for instance pork loin chops (pictured above) are cut from the center of the loin, the strip of meat that runs from the pig’s hip to shoulder, and consist of a small portion of the tenderloin separated from the loin by a T-shaped bone. Pork rib chops don’t contain any of the tenderloin and are taken from the area closest to the rib so the bone is off to one side. Boneless pork chops are cut from the area above the loin chops and the thickness of all of these types of chops ranges from about half an inch to two inches. Cooking time will depend on how thick they are and if they have a bone or not, bone-in takes longer. While this recipe calls for bone-in pork loin chops, feel free to use whichever type you prefer, keeping in mind boneless chops will cook faster.
This recipe also calls for Herbes de Provence, a delightfully fragrant and flavorful mixture of dried herbs indigenous to the eponymous historic province in southeast France. The mixture typically includes rosemary, thyme, oregano, marjoram, savory and lavender and is often sold in traditional Provençal clay jars. Herbes de Provence makes an excellent seasoning for chicken, fish or pork and works deliciously well with the flavors in this dish. I like to serve the Provençal Pork Chops over a bed of cous cous to catch all the delicious sauce and pair it with the 2013 Saint Cosme Côtes du Rhône ($15, Wine Atelier), a medium-bodied Syrah from the Southern Rhône with plenty of personality at a very affordable price.
“Provençal Pork Chops”
4 Tbsp. good olive oil
4 1-inch thick bone-in center cut pork loin chops
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
2 teaspoons Herbes de Provence
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes or to taste
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley
Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over med-hi heat. Pat the chops dry and season both sides with Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Once the oil in the skillet is hot, add the chops to the pan and cook for 3 minutes on each side until golden brown. Transfer chops to a plate and tent with foil to keep warm.
Add the sliced onion to the same pan and sauté over medium heat until softened, approximately 5-7 minutes. Add tomatoes with their juices, Herbes de Provence, and red pepper flakes to the pan and stir well to combine. Cover the pan and simmer until the flavors have melded and the juice has thickened slightly about 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Return the pork chops to the pan with any accumulated juices and simmer until chops are heated through, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper and garnish with chopped parsley before serving.