For whatever reason, I don’t cook pork chops very often. Maybe it’s that growing up, they tended to either be super bland and dry or they were breaded and baked (Shake-n-Bake being the classic). Honestly, that doesn’t necessarily make you want to eat it. I will say that there are good ways to prepare things reminiscent of those childhood versions. Take schnitzel, its awesome! Roasting though has its challenges, I have really had to look at the technique and flavors for cooking pork.
For this recipe, I wanted to go with a pretty classic French flavor. Dijon (my favorite ingredient) served as the base. To that I added shallot, tarragon, and lemon. To provide some volume, chicken broth rounded it out. I let that reduce in the pan and it provided a nice semi-thick sauce at the end.
What I also love about this kind of sauce is that it is great for topping sides. We made a really basic couscous to go with this (I mean super basic). So, I just poured sauce all over it and ta-da! Perfect flavor. I also made pan-seared Brussels Sprouts, which are a perfect pairing for pork and this sauce.
Pork Chop Cooking Tips
So far, I think I have narrowed cooking pork chops down to three key things:
- First, pork needs to be cooked just right which I think is an internal temp of about 140-145F (accounting for the resting period to cook a bit more). If you over cook, it will be completely tasteless and dry no matter what you do. This gets tricky as that seems to be a very fine line that you cross quickly. If you cook with those really thin pork chops, it gets there really quick and they are hard to stick a thermometer in due to the thickness. Be careful with those, or better yet leave them for Shake-n-Bake and buy thick cut!
- Second, you should pan sear the pork before sticking it in the oven. This is why thick cut is better, you won’t overcook it by this method. The pan sear allows for a good color and crust. That crust also helps lock in the juice and flavor in the oven. Thinking back to my childhood, oven baked pork always had that sickly grey color to it. Pan searing allows you to get a delicious golden brown!
- Lastly, you really should have some sauce. Sure you can try and marinate pork, but chances are it won’t really penetrate. Pork is really dense and even overnight the center will largely be untouched. A sauce ensures that when you cut a piece off, you can scoop up some flavor. Plus you can build it from the pan juices.
Mustard-Lemon Pork Chops
- 2-4 Bone-in Pork Chops preferably thick cut
- 1 Tbs Olive Oil
- 1 Shallot finely diced
- 1 Lemon a few slices and juiced
- 2 Tbs Dijon Mustard
- 1/4 Cup Chicken Stock white wine is an alternative
- 6 Tarragon Leaves finely chopped
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 350F.
- In a skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat (7-8 out of 10).
- Pat the meat dry and salt/pepper.
- Cook the pork chops for ~3 per side. Remove and place on a baking sheet in the oven, monitoring temp. Should take about 10-12 minutes to reach ~140-145F.
- When the pork chops have been for about 5 minutes, start the sauce in the skillet you seared the pork in. Heat the residual oil/fat over medium heat
- Add the shallot first and allow to soften, about 3-4 minutes.
- Add the remaining ingredients, reduce heat to medium-low (3-4 out of 10) and allow to reduce.
- When the pork is done in the oven, add any juices to the sauce, tent the meat, and allow the sauce to reduce for a further 5-7 minutes while the meat rests. Turn off the heat, add the meat, and turn to coat both sides.