Creating a pan sauce that has body and richness doesn't just happen by mistake: You have to use certain techniques to get there. In this easy dinner, pork chops are served with a light, bright pan sauce made from leeks, white wine, chicken stock, and lemon zest. The leeks, though, add more than just flavor: they also fortify the sauce with bulk and texture, adding body and substance where there might not otherwise be any.
Why this recipe works:
- Starting the pork chops in a low oven, then searing them over high heat, helps deliver juicy meat that isn't overcooked
- A healthy amount of leeks melted into the sauce helps produce body and richness.
- Lemon zest brightens the whole thing up.
Note: Gelatin will help create a thicker sauce with a richer texture, but thanks to the large amount of leeks in the sauce, it is not essential for great results. If you use homemade stock and it's rich in gelatin (meaning it gels when chilled), then you don't need the additional powdered gelatin.
Natural vegetable fiber in the leeks is the secret to this pan sauce.
- Yield:Serves 2
- Active time: 45 minutes
- Total time:1 hour 15 minutes (plus overnight if dry brining)
- 2 bone-in pork chops (about 1 pound total)
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt, plus more as needed
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1/2 cup homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken stock
- 1 teaspoon powdered gelatin (optional; see note)
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- 1 1/2 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts only (from about 1 large leek)
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic (from about 2 medium cloves)
- 1 teaspoon finely grated zest from 1 lemon
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
Pat pork chops dry with a paper towel. Combine salt and sugar in a small bowl. Season pork chops generously on all sides with salt/sugar mixture (you may have some seasoning mixture left over; reserve for another use or discard). Transfer to a wire rack set in a rimmed baking sheet. If dry-brining chops overnight, refrigerate, uncovered, at least 8 hours and up to 24; otherwise proceed immediately to Step 2.
When ready to cook chops, preheat oven to 250°F. Season chops with pepper. Place baking sheet with pork chops in oven and cook until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the chops registers 100 to 110°F for medium-rare, about 30 minutes, or 110 to 120°F for medium, about 35 minutes. To prevent overcooking, start checking temperature 5 to 10 minutes before suggested time. Remove from oven.
While pork cooks, combine wine and stock in a bowl or measuring cup and sprinkle gelatin all over, if using. Set aside.
Heat oil in a large stainless steel or cast iron skillet over high heat until lightly smoking. Place pork chops in skillet and cook, turning occasionally, until browned and an instant-read thermometer registers 120 to 130°F for medium-rare or 130 to 140°F for medium, about 3 minutes. Stack pork chops with tongs, hold them on their sides, and sear the fat caps on the edges until crisp, about 1 minute. Remove pan from heat, transfer chops to a clean rack set in a rimmed baking sheet, tent with foil, and let rest while making pan sauce.
Pour off excess fat from skillet and return to medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon butter and melt. Add leeks and garlic and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add wine and stock, bring to a boil, and cook, stirring occasionally, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Continue cooking until sauce is reduced by about two-thirds, 5 to 8 minutes. Stir in remaining 2 tablespoons butter and cook at a hard boil until emulsified, about 30 seconds. Stir in lemon zest and half of parsley, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Transfer pork chops to plates, spooning sauce all over (if pan sauce took too long to make and pork chops have cooled significantly, return to oven for a few minutes to reheat, being careful not to let them get above the maximum temperature reached in step 4). Garnish with parsley and serve.