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Simple, flavorful pork chops

By CHRISTOPHER KIMBALL, Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street
Published: May 15, 2024, 6:04am
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This image released by Milk Street shows a recipe for seared pork chops with fennel and herb salad.
This image released by Milk Street shows a recipe for seared pork chops with fennel and herb salad. (Milk Street via AP) Photo Gallery

Italian porchetta is a special dish of spit-roasted pork flavored with herbs, fennel and garlic. It’s delicious, but much too involved for a weeknight dinner. To give pork chops the same flavor profile with less work, we narrowed the ingredients to those best suited for searing on the stovetop.

In this recipe from our book “Tuesday Nights Mediterranean,” which features weeknight-friendly meals from the region, we blend together salt, black pepper, rosemary, fennel seeds and red pepper flakes in a spice grinder, then rub the seasoning blend on bone-in center cut pork chops before searing them until well browned.

Once the pork chops are cooked through, the pan is deglazed with a bit of water to release the flavorful browned bits. The liquid is enriched with butter and flavored with lemon juice to create a simple bright and rich pan sauce for finishing. A fresh fennel and herb salad balances the richness of the meat.

Don’t discard the fennel fronds if your bulb has them attached. Chop about ¼ cup and add them to the bowl with the fennel. When shopping, try to choose chops that are close in size so they cook at the same rate.

Seared Pork Chops With Fennel and Herb Salad

Start to finish: 35 minutes. Servings: 4

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary

1 tablespoon fennel seeds

½ teaspoon red pepper flakes

Four 8-ounce bone-in center cut pork chops, each about 1-inch thick, patted dry

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

2 tablespoons salted butter, cut into 2 pieces

3 tablespoons lemon juice, divided

1 large fennel bulb, halved lengthwise, cored and thinly sliced crosswise

3 scallions, thinly sliced on the diagonal

1 cup lightly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped

In a spice grinder, combine 1½ teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon black pepper, the rosemary, fennel seeds and pepper flakes. Process to a fine powder, about 10 seconds. Measure ½ teaspoon into a medium bowl and set aside. Sprinkle the remainder onto both sides of the pork chops, then rub the seasonings into the meat.

In a 12-inch skillet over medium-high, heat 2 tablespoons of oil until barely smoking. Add the chops and cook until well-browned on the bottom, 3 to 5 minutes. Flip and cook until the centers reach 135 degrees, another 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a platter and tent with foil. With the pan still over medium-high, add ¼ cup water and scrape up any browned bits. Add the butter and whisk until incorporated, then stir in 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Taste and season with salt and black pepper. Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm.

To the bowl with the spice mix, whisk in the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and the remaining 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Add the fennel, scallions and parsley, then toss to combine. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Pour the sauce over the chops and serve with the fennel salad.

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