Marge: It might be nice to go out to dinner tomorrow night.
Homer: Tomorrow night? Friday? Pork chop night?? Marge, we haven't missed pork chop night since the Great Pig Scare of 87!
I think it's because I felt exactly the same way about pork chops when I was growing up. My mom made the most delicious crumbed pork chops and when I asked what's for dinner and the answer was pork chops, my heart would always sing. Go out on pork chop night? You must be crazy.
I don't think I've had a crumbed pork chop in a decade or so, but I do know that one of my weeknight standbys is pork chops. They are quick, easy and versatile, although after much experimentation I think I've finally found the best way to cook them. I used to grill them which was good for crisping the fat but usually resulted either in dried-out meat or undercooked chops. I also tried oven-baking them covered in aluminium foil, but this total lack of browning did nothing for the fat and left the meat moist but an uninspiring grey colour. In the end, I decided that the solution was to pan-fry them after marinading them for an hour or so, and this quick and easy weeknight recipe is an embellishment on that basic idea.
PORK CHOPS AND SHERRIED MUSHROOMS (serves 2)
2 pork chops
1 tsp dried sage
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 clove of garlic, crushed
salt and pepper to taste
1 small onion very thinly sliced
about a dozen mushrooms, thinly sliced
medium cream sherry
2 Tbsp single cream (optional)
Place the pork chops in a shallow dish and add a good glug of olive oil and a tablespoon or so of lemon juice. Turn the chops over in the oil and lemon juice a few times so that they are well-coated. Add the garlic and spices and "mash" them into the meat of the chops using the back of a fork. Cover and refrigerate, preferably for an hour.
Over medium heat, heat a little olive oil in a heavy-bottomed frying pan. When it is fairly hot, add the pork chops seasoned side down. While in the pan, season the other side with salt, pepper and any of the spices left in the marinading dish. Cook for about ten minutes on that side, then turn over. Move the chops to one side of the pan and add a small knob of butter to the other side. Once melted, add the onions and stir continuously so that they do not burn.
Once all the butter has cooked off, add a generous splash of sherry to the pan and leave to cook until almost all the liquid is gone (another 5-10 minutes). Add the mushrooms to the onions and stir until just cooked. Check the chops for doneness, remove from the pan and deglaze with a little more sherry, scraping up any burnt bits from the bottom of the pan to stir into the mushrooms. Check for seasoning and add salt and pepper if needed. Remove from the heat and (if desired) stir the cream into the mushrooms. Serve the mushrooms poured over the chops. As you will see below, my chop was accompanied by lentils and string beans – delicious.
Go out on pork chop night? Never!