Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Cider-Glazed Boneless Pork Loin Chops (Cook's Illustrated)

 While shopping at the meat section of my grocery store, I was smitten with a row of beautiful, thick boneless pork loin chops.  I don't recall the last time I cooked this cut of meat, so I asked the butcher to wrap up three chops to make for Sunday supper.

 It's a little scary how I can recall from my memory a particular recipe that I've bookmarked, and have moved very high on my "must try" list.  Then again, I almost always find a recipe from any Cook's Illustrated publication.

I have bookmarked dozens of recipes from one of my favorite recipe sources. The Complete America's Test Kitchen Show Cookbook is worth every penny, as it has every recipe they've made, through Season 10.  Christopher Kimball, and his team of chefs do a lot of recipe testing to perfect so many recipes.  Boneless pork chops can be easily overcooked-- whether you fry them or bake them.  I am not a fan of baked chicken or pork, because I am a firm believer that searing meat and then roasting them has a much better flavor. America's Test Kitchen came up with a great idea, I thought, and tonight was the night to test their technique.  Here's their quote:
Published March 1, 2006.  

Why this recipe works:For a quick and flavorful pork chop recipe with moist, juicy meat, we settled on the pan-searing method and added flavor with a glaze. To prevent the chops from drying out we seared them on just one side until they were well browned, added the glaze mixture, then gently "poached" the chops in the glaze. This approach helped the chops retain moisture and reduced the glaze to the right consistency.

To begin, you'll want to make the glaze. The ingredients are all items that are in my pantry: apple cider vinegar (or white vinegar), apple cider, light brown sugar, soy sauce (I used low-salt Tamari) and Dijon mustard, and a pinch of cayenne.  Whisk that together and set aside.

Trim the chops and slash through fat and silver skin with sharp knife, making 2 cuts about 2 inches apart in each chop (do not cut into meat of chops). Pat chops dry with paper towels; season with salt and pepper.

Heat oil in heavy-bottomed 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until smoking. Add pork to skillet and cook until well browned, 4 to 6 minutes. Turn chops and cook 1 minute longer; transfer chops to plate and pour off any oil in skillet.
Add the glaze mixture; cook over medium heat until center of chops registers 140 degrees on instant-read thermometer, 5 to 8 minutes. Remove skillet from heat; transfer chops to clean platter, tent with foil, and let rest 5 minutes. The ideal temperature should be 155F once the meat has rested, as it continues to cook.

NOTE: Because my chops were 2" thick, I covered the pan and allowed these to poach/cook for about 18 minutes.

When chops have rested, add any accumulated juices to skillet and set over medium heat. Simmer, whisking constantly, until glaze is thick and color of dark caramel (heatproof spatula should leave wide trail when dragged through glaze), 2 to 6 minutes.
TIP: You'll want to see increased bubbles, caramel color, and a spatula just starts to make trails.Be patient, as the pan sauce will begin to thicken.

 Return chops to skillet; turn to coat both sides with glaze. Transfer chops back to platter, browned side up, and spread remaining glaze over chops. Serve immediately.

 Perfection! I'm hungry!

TASTING NOTES:  The glaze is A-ma-ZING!  Seriously, it's thick and sweet, a little tangy and slightly savory, and flavorful... it gets several O-M-G's from me!  The pork was so moist and juicy.  Craig and I split one of the chops, as they were very large. My 6'2  22 year-old son ate an entire chop, along with some smashed potatoes and a green salad.   The dinner table was pretty void of conversation as we each enjoyed this very quick and delicious way to serve pork.  This recipe moves up very high on my rotation list. In fact, I think this glaze would be excellent with salmon.  Love, love, LOVE this recipe.
SIDE NOTE: Yes, the pork appears to be slightly pink, in the middle.  This is safe, according to the USDA website. The internal temperature should be 145F.   If you doubt, click here to read it!

A printable recipe card follows.

Thank you America's Test Kitchen/Cook's Illustrated! 

Your fan,



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My Carolina Kitchen said...

What lovely chops. We rarely see the big thick ones and when we do, we quickly throw them in the cart as you did. Great glaze. I love the cider element.

bellini valli said...

Pork chops are something I don't cook that often, but thanks for the timely reminder!!!The glaze gives these a refreshing flavour.

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

I'm hungry too now. I can never have too many pork chop recipes. I love pork! I often cook them using this method as well.

Growing up my grandparents would always fight over pork chops. She would be paranoid over them having diseases and he would argue that if you cooked them too long, they would be dry. It's a good thing pork chop paranoia isn't what it used to be!

Kim said...

Debby - Tyler has a recipe that is very similar to this and it is a real go-to recipe for me as well. The one difference is this cider-glaze which looks incredible. What a lovely meal (and those are gorgeous chops by the way).

Joanne said...

Now you've reminded me that it's been TOO LONG since I've cooked pork chops! That glaze sounds fabulous.

RSA Online said...

Oh my goodness just looking at this is making me hungry! Can't wait to try this recipe out

Carole said...

I need to add pork to my cooking rotation. I prepare it so rarely. The chops look so good!

Big Dude said...

This looks amazing and I have some thick pork chops in the freezer waiting for it.

Proud Italian Cook said...

I'm not a lamb person, but pork that's another story! Perfection, now I'M hungry!

Chris and Amy said...

We love ATK and Cook's Illustrated. Guess this cookbook is a must buy. Those chops look fabulous!

Juli P said...

My husband made this recipe a while back and it was delicious! It too, has been added to our regular rotation for pork chop recipes. YUM!

Allie said...

I've never had a great experience with pork chops because they've always been try and kind of dull. But this recipe looks juicy and full of flavor! I think the glaze is what makes me want to drool. I love anything that is saucy :)

Anonymous said...

This was absolutely amazing!!! I will definitely be making this again and again. (The vinegar smell was off putting for my sons, but the chops tastes nothing reminiscent of the vinegar.)

Debby Foodiewife said...

Thanks, Dear Anonymous, for the positive feedback. I agree, that the vinegar will clear your sinuses once you pour it in the pan. After it's reduced, it leaves great flavor without bitterness.

The Beaded Feather said...

I would love to make the Cider glazed pork chops that you have pics of on your blog, but I don't see the actual recipe anywhere - just pics and blogging. Please help! thanks!

Debby Foodiewife said...

How strange. I can see the recipe card! Right at the very end of the post. Email me foodiewife@gmail.com if you still can't see it.