About once a year, Costco has a coupon that makes a family pack of pork chops extremely affordable. With a reluctant Angela in tow, I buy a package. These pork chops are pretty big: I usually cut them in half as we really don’t need that much protein. So I use one or maybe two of them and then freeze the rest. We then proceed to eat a pork chop ever month or so for the rest of the year. I think I need to stop buying large quantities of pork chops.
I decided that we really need to finish up the pork chops we had (the date on the package said January but I tried to ignore that; I think there’s one more thats left). We could use the room in the freezer and they are coming up to their anniversary in there. Angela wasn’t particularly enthused about the idea (she’s not a big fan of pork chops because they have a tendency to be a bit tough) which is why we don’t eat them very often (see the about page).
The real question when pulling something out of the freezer (particularly when it’s something that I don’t cook particularly often) is how to prepare it. I’ve made enough bad pork chops in my life (they have to be one of the easiest things to overcook) to know that this is a delicate question.
I settled on a recipe from Mario Batali because, well, I had just gotten his cookbook (we had a 50% off coupon from Barnes & Noble) and it looked reasonably good. It also happened to fit into things we just happened to have (well, with some modifications): pork chops, peppers, leftover white wine, and pearl onions. Now, the original recipe called for bell peppers but I only had an Italian frying pepper. It also called for “bulb onions” which I’m guessing are just fresh pearl onions with their stems attached. It also called for olives which I don’t like (I’ve tried several but haven’t come up with any I don’t spit out; I really want to like them; what’s a good “starter” olive?) so I left them out.
The original recipe called for a lot more red pepper flakes than I’ve listed here. The dish was hot. Very hot. Almost too hot to eat. It also repeated the pepper spray incident but to a lesser extent (Angela’s words: “Did you create pepper spray again?”).
This is one of the better recipes for pork chops I’ve had. Surprisingly, they weren’t over-brined (which I was afraid of given the length of time they are brined for). The peppers and onions also worked well with the pork chops. The sauce reminded me a bit of an Asian style stir-fry sauce. It might have been the red pepper. Sadly the potatoes were overpowered in taste by the pork chops. I also think the potatoes weren’t that good (but they were pretty).
Pork Chops with Peppers and Capers (Cotolette alla Zingara)
Adapted from Molto Italiano
5 cups water
1/4 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
2 pork chops
salt and black pepper
1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 tbsp olive oil
1 Italian frying pepper, cored, seeded, and cut into thin slices
4 pearl onions, peeled and sliced into rings
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp capers with brine
1/2 cup dry white wine
- Combine 1 cup of water, the kosher salt, the brown sugar, the peppercorns, and the bay leaf in a sauce pan. Bring to a boil, stirring to desolve the brine ingredients. Pour the brine into a bowl and add the remaining 4 cups of water. Place the pork chops in the brine, cover and refrigerate overnight.
- Dry the pork chops with a paper towel. Season on both sides with salt and pepper. Dredge in the flour.
- Over high heat, heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Brown the pork chops in the oil, about 7 minutes on the first side and 4 minutes on the other. Remove the pork chops to a plate.
- Add the onions, peppers, red pepper flakes, and capers to the skillet. Cook for one minute, stirring constantly. Deglaze with the wine, scrapping up all the brown bits.
- Add the pork chops back to the skillet and simmer for 10 minutes or until the pork reaches 135°F (mine cooked past this point but we’re still good).
- Season the sauce with salt and pepper. Serve covered with the sauce.