Why It Works
- Choosing peaches that are just shy of ripe ensures they retain their shape when warmed in the pan drippings.
- Setting the chops over a bed of spinach and then adding the pan sauce lightly wilts and dresses the leaves.
- Seasoning the pan sauce with the zest and juice of a lemon tempers the sweetness of the peaches.
I'm in love with this dish—granted more so with the peaches than anything else, but that might be because I've loved soft, sweet peaches since I was a kid. I think it was the Del Monte brand of canned peaches in syrup that I would always crack open, pour into a bowl, and eat plain, or top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream as a "snack." Now, I've decided to make a similar version for serving over pork chops. Made with fresh summer peaches, this fruit-studded pan sauce lacks the excess sugar and preservatives of the canned peach pairings of my youth, and tastes even better, to boot.
"The hot pan drippings are perfect for warming the peaches and pouring over the chops as a finishing touch, infusing them with flavor and lightly wilting the raw spinach served beneath."
I'm not going to say that I actually licked the plate because my mother would severely disapprove and I'm clearly a grown-up now and wouldn't dare do such things...but I'm also not going to deny it, either. The hot pan drippings are perfect for warming the peaches and pouring over the chops as a finishing touch, infusing them with flavor and lightly wilting the raw spinach served beneath.
I made it with three peaches—more than enough to give each chop its fair share—but they're so delicious that I would definitely make more next time, though you may have to adjust the seasoning accordingly. I like fruit skins; if you're not a fan, wait to remove them after the cooking process, when they'll slip right off.
When buying peaches for this recipe (or for any grilling project), look for ones that are on the firm side, with a slight give. Too ripe and the fruit will completely fall apart over the heat; hard as a baseball and it won't have that requisite sweetness. The same goes for other summer stone fruits like apricots, nectarines, or plums, any of which would be a great alternative in this recipe (or try using a combination). You can always use the leftover fruits for breakfast, served with some Greek yogurt and honey, as a mid-day fruit salad snack, or in a fruit salsa for the next evening's dinner.
I found that the bed of spinach rounded out the meal to make it nutritionally balanced enough for a complete one-pot dinner, but if you want a little something else, then a side of vegetables like sautéed summer squash, eggplant, or some corn could round out the meal. Or, if you want to avoid the possibility of any plate-licking action happening at your dinner table, a piece of bread to sop up the liquid on the plate might be a good idea.
2 bone-in rib or center-cut chops (4 to 6 ounces each)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 peaches, pits removed, cut into 1/4-inch slices (see notes)
2 teaspoons zest and 2 tablespoons fresh juice from 1 lemon
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pinch of dried red chile flakes
2 cups fresh raw baby spinach
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
Season pork chops generously with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a 12-inch skillet over high heat until lightly smoking. Add pork chops and cook until first side is nicely browned, 4 to 6 minutes. Flip and continue to cook until the internal temperature registers 145°F (63°C) on an instant-read thermometer, about 3 minutes longer. Transfer to a plate and tent with foil. Do not wipe out skillet.
Lower heat to medium-low and add peaches, lemon zest, sugar, salt, and dried chile flakes. Stir gently until peaches begin to soften but retain their shape, 2 to 3 minutes.
Divide spinach between 2 plates and put pork chops on top. Pour any juices from plate back into skillet and add butter and lemon juice. Cook, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan and swirling pan until butter is melted and incorporated into the sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in half of basil. Divide peaches between 2 plates and then pour pan juices on top and sprinkle with remaining basil. Serve immediately.
12-inch skillet, instant-read thermometer
When buying peaches for this recipe and for grilling, you want to make sure that they aren't overly ripe as they will completely fall apart during the cooking process. You don't want ones that feel like baseballs either, as they will not be sweet enough. Instead, feel for ones that give slightly when squeezed.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 33g||42%|
|Saturated Fat 10g||48%|
|Total Carbohydrate 29g||10%|
|Dietary Fiber 5g||17%|
|Total Sugars 24g|
|Vitamin C 29mg||146%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|