Editors of Cook’s Illustrated from Cooking at Home with America’s Test Kitchen 2006 | America’s Test Kitchen, 2005 | Serves 4
For these pork chops with vinegar and sweet peppers, we prefer rib chops, but center-cut pork chops, which contain a portion of tenderloin, can be used instead. You can use either table or kosher salt in the brine, but note that fine-grained table salt measures differently from the larger crystals of kosher salt and that brands of kosher salt measure differently too, which is why we provide measurements for the two most common brands. If you do not have time to brine the pork chops, “enhanced” pork (pork injected with a salt, water, and sodium phosphate solution) presents an acceptable solution. To keep the chops from overcooking and becoming tough and dry, they are removed from the oven when they are just shy of fully cooked; as they sit in the hot skillet, they continue to cook with residual heat.
Note: that the U.S. Department of Agriculture suggests a final temperature for the pork chops of 160°F (71°C). The choice is yours, but we find 160°F pork to be unpalatable.—the Editors of Cook’s Illustrated
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup table salt, 1 cup Diamond Crystal kosher salt, or 3/4 cup Morton kosher salt
4 bone-in pork rib chops, each 3/4 to 1 inch thick and 7 to 9 ounces
Ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped fine (about 1 1/4 cups)
1 large red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut into 1/4-inch-wide strips (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 large yellow bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut into 1/4-inch-wide strips (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 anchovy fillets, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
1 sprig fresh rosemary, about 5 inches long
2 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup white wine vinegar, plus optional 2 tablespoons to finish sauce
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
1. Dissolve the sugar and salt in 2 quarts water in a large container; add the pork chops and refrigerate 30 minutes. Remove the chops from the brine; thoroughly pat dry with paper towels, season with 3/4 teaspoon pepper, and set aside.
2. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position; heat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed, oven-safe, 12-inch nonreactive skillet over medium-high heat until the oil begins to smoke; swirl the skillet to coat with the oil. Place the pork chops in the skillet; cook until well browned, 3 to 4 minutes, using a spoon or spatula to press down on the center of the chops to aid in browning. Using tongs, flip the chops and brown lightly on the second side, about 1 minute. Transfer the chops to a large plate; set aside.
3. Set the skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until just beginning to soften, about 2 minutes. Add the sweet peppers, anchovies, and rosemary; cook, stirring frequently, until the peppers just begin to soften, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the water and 1/2 cup vinegar and bring to a boil, scraping up the browned bits with a wooden spoon. Reduce the heat to medium; simmer until the liquid is reduced to about 1/2 cup, 6 to 8 minutes. Take he skillet off the heat and discard the rosemary.
4. Return the pork chops, browner-side up, to the skillet; nestle the chops in the sweet peppers, but do not cover the chops with the peppers. Add any accumulated juices to the skillet; set the skillet in the oven and cook until the center of the pork chops registers 135°F to 140°F (57°C to 60°C) on an instant-read thermometer, 8 to 12 minutes (begin checking the temperature after 6 minutes). Using potholders, carefully remove the skillet from the oven (the handle will be very hot) and cover the skillet with a lid or foil; let stand until the center of the chops registers 145 to 150 °F (65°C) on an instant-read thermometer, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer the pork chops to a platter or individual plates. Swirl the butter into the sauce and the sweet peppers in the skillet; taste and stir in the optional 2 tablespoons vinegar, if desired, and the parsley. Adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper, then pour or spoon the sauce and peppers over the chops. Serve immediately.
Recipe © 2005 by Editors of Cook’s Illustrated. Photo © 2005 Carl Tremblay. All rights reserved.