Quick Ale-Braised Pork Chops
Ah, what a wonderful thing it is to have both meat and time: slow-cooked roast beef, tender short ribs, barbecued brisket… But sadly, not many of us have the time to simply sit back and wait hours for our meat. Sometimes, we don’t even have an hour. Sometimes, we don’t even have the half-hour that most of Rachael’s recipes require.
For those of you who are (like me) forgetful, harried, hurried, or simply impatient, here is a 20-minute recipe that is guaranteed to work every time.
It’s not a no-brainer, though. For those 20 minutes, you really need to stay on top of it. You also need a bottle of brown ale – or something like it. And of course, you need a good pork chop. And by “a good pork chop,” I mean thick, well-marbled, and – ideally – from an all-natural producer. It doesn’t have to be a center cut chop; I personally like end rib chops (They look like rib eye steaks) the best.
This pork chop recipe really is a winner, because it typically takes hours to get the soft texture of braised meat, and this one needs less than 20 minutes.
Brown Ale-Braised Pork Chops
2 center cut pork chops, medium thickness
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 small onion, chopped very fine
1 bottle brown ale, stout, porter, or other dark beer
1 tsp caraway seeds (*see below for alternatives)
1 apple or pear, thinly sliced
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
1 pinch brown sugar
1. Get a large-lidded pan good and hot. While it’s heating up, chop the onion and slice the apple (or pear). Dry the pork chops off, and shower them with salt and a few twists of pepper. Add the oil to the pan. It should start to shimmer; it should be wicked-hot.
2. Put the pork chops in the pan, leaving some space between them. Look at them for three minutes or so. Don’t move them – you need one side to get nice and brown. After the three minutes are up, assuming the oil isn’t burning, lift them and take a peek. Are they brown? If so, flip them over, and push them to one side.
3. While they cook, throw the onions in the hot, porky oil. Drop a pinch of sugar on them, and move them around with a spoon until they get nice and soft. There won’t be time for them to brown, but that doesn’t matter, because they’re about to go swimming anyway.
4. Add the beer; there should be just enough to come halfway up the pork chop. Make sure you lean away when you add it! A big, billowing, beer steam cloud will mushroom up. Then, add the apple or pear slices and the caraway seeds. I know it’s not likely that you have caraway seeds just sitting around. Really, you are adding another flavor so that you aren’t only eating pork, onion, and beer with a few fruit slices floating in there. You need that X-factor, and it should be something that goes with beer, that’s all I’m saying. Allspice or even a little cinnamon will work just as well. Maybe a little paprika, or better still, smoked paprika.
5. Pop the lid on. Turn the heat to medium. Do something else for seven or eight minutes.
6. Get out a plate. Put the pork chops on it. Jack the heat up, and boil away the beer juice for a couple of minutes. Pour it and it and everything in it onto the chops. Serve and eat.
Photo: Courtesy of brown_family_album via Flickr