I was craving pork chops and after tooling around the web I decided to try out this recipe from Epicurious. The recipe is simple, fairly quick and looks pretty fancy! Because this is Budget Bytes, I chose to substitute red onions for the shallots… either way, when you caramelize them down in balsamic vinegar, they are to die for!
|5 or 6, center cut||pork chops||$7.57|
|1 medium||red onion, sliced||$0.80|
|2 Tbsp||olive oil||$0.38|
|2/3 cup||balsamic vinegar||$1.06|
|a pinch||salt and pepper||$0.05|
STEP 1: Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. While the oil is heating, slice the red onion. Salt and pepper each side of the pork chops.
STEP 2: Once the oil is quite hot (but not smoking) add the pork chops and onions to the skillet. You may need to cook the chops in two batches. Let the chops brown on one side before flipping to the other side (about 5 min each side). Don’t worry if the chops seem to “stick” to the pan at first. Once they begin to brown the pan releases them. If you can not pick up the chop because it is sticking, then it is definitely too early to flip!
STEP 3: As you cook the chops, stir the onions around a bit. Once the chops have browned well on each side, remove them from the pan and place them on a clean plate. I found that the onions were almost done cooking when my first batch of chops had finished. Because I did not want to add raw chops to onions that were almost done cooking, i finished caramelizing the onions for a minute or two after removing the first batch of chops, then removed the onions from the pan before adding the second batch of chops. The onions are “done” when they are nicely browned and limp. The brown color comes from the natural sugars in the onion that have “caramelized” from the heat.
STEP 4: When all of the chops and onions are done cooking, remove them all from the pan. Add the balsamic vinegar and sugar to the pan. Stir well to release and dissolve any residue from the bottom of the pan. This technique is called “deglazing” and is often used to release flavor from the sticky bits at the bottom of the pan. Keep stirring as the vinegar solution begins to simmer and thicken (turn the heat to medium).
STEP 5: When the mixture has thickened, return all of the onions and chops to the pan. Coat the chops well with the onions and balsamic “sauce”. Plate each chop and top with some of the caramelized onions and thick sauce. Now you’re ready to go!
NOTE: You can use bone in or boneless chops, whichever you prefer. If you use a thin cut chop, it will cook very quickly in the pan. A thick cut may not cook all the way through before the outside browns so be careful and check the inside of your chops to make sure they are fully cooked.
This recipe is very tangy and I would only recommend it to those who have tasted (and liked) balsamic vinegar.
I paired the pork chops with Lemon Butter Green Beans and a simple corn bread dressing from a box mix. Yes, homemade stuffing is tastier but this was a week night dinner and you can’t beat the ease and cost of boxed stuffing mix! The box of mix was only $0.82 (about 6 side servings) and all it required was a couple Tbsp of butter!