Center Cut Pork Chop with Roasted Butternut Squash and Arugula, Photo by Jason Homa
One of my favorite meals as a kid was “Pork Chops and Apple Sauce.” Not only did the crispy edges of fat taste delicious but my brothers and I had a swell time imitating the Brady Bunch episode where Bobby sought to adopt the personality of Humphrey Bogart.
When I prepare them, I first get the pan nice and hot. I cook them in about 3 tablespoons of olive oil that has been infused with fresh herbs and garlic, making sure to sear those edges of fat, cooking on medium-high heat for about 7 minutes. Tonight’s meal was prepared wtih a lemon, garlic and bay leaf infused oil (I found this recipe idea on Williams-Sonoma). I love the citrus zing of the lemon, however, my boyfriend prefers a more rustic flavor, so for him, at his suggestion, infused olive oil with garlic, rosemary, thyme and bayleaf -sans the lemon.
3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, very thinly sliced
4 fresh bay leaves, or 6 dried bay leaves
2 Meyer lemons, 1 thinly sliced and 1 halved
1/2 tablespoon fresh rosemary (or dried)
1 teaspoon thyme
4 bone-in, center-cut pork chops, 6-8 oz. (185-250 g.) each
Portuguese sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a large cast-iron or other heavy-bottomed frying (or grill) pan, heat the olive oil, garlic and bay leaves over medium heat. Substitue for herbs of your choice. Saute until the garlic is lightly golden and the oil is infused with the aroma of garlic and bay leaf, about 5 minutes. Transfer the garlic and bay leaves to a plate and set aside.
Bay Leaf and Garlic Infusing
Return the pan to the heat and add the lemon slices. Cook, turning once, until lightly browned, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to the plate with the garlic and bay leaves.
Infusing the Olive Oil wtih Lemon, Instagram photo taken by Dena Ferreira
Season the pork chops with salt and pepper. Heat the pan to medium-high and arrange the chops in the pan. Sear until nicely browned on the bottom, 7 minutes each side. Squeeze the lemon halves over the chops and turn to coat them with the juice. Return the garlic, bay leaves and lemon slices to the pan and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook until the chops are cooked through, 1-2 minutes longer. The pork chop should spring back but still feel tender if gently pressed with a finger, and the center should be very slightly pink.
Transfer the pork chops to a serving platter and spoon the pan juices, along with the lemon slices, over the top. Serve right away. Serves 4.
The butternut squash was a last-minute add-on. I simply pre-heated my oven to 400. Drizzle olive oil over cut pieces of squash, added 1 tablespoon of brown sugar, a dash of ginger and 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon. Cooked in square pan in oven for 30-35 minutes. Served over a bed of arugula and topped dish with juices from chops.