Thick-Cut Pork Chops with Balsamic Vinegar Sauce and Bacon

Pork Chops with Balsamic Vinegar and Bacon

Based on a recipe by Cook’s Illustrated, New Best Recipe

Ingredients

4 Bone-in rib pork chops, about 1 1/2 inches thick (about 12 ounces each)
1/4 cup table salt

5 ounces bacon, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
2 large shallots, minced (about 1/2 cup)
Pinch sugar
1 medium garlic clove, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 1 tablespoon garlic)
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 cup dry Marsala wine or sweet vermouth
4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter cut into 4 pieces

Directions

Brine the pork chops: dissolve the salt in 6 cups cold water in a large bowl. Add the pork chops and refrigerate until fully seasoned, about one hour. Remove the pork chops from the brine, rinse, and pat thoroughly dry with paper towels. Season the chops with pepper.

Cook the pork chops: adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position, place a shallow roasting pan or rimmed baking sheet on the rack, and heat the oven to 450 degrees. When the oven reaches 450 degrees, heat the oil in a heavy bottomed 12-inch skillet over high heat until shimmering. Lay the chops in the skillet and cook until well browned and a nice crust has formed on the surface, about 3 minutes (1 1/2 to 2 minutes for thinner chops). Turn the chops over with tongs and cook until well browned a nice crust has formed on the second side, 2 to 3 minutes longer (only 1 to 2 minutes for thinner chops, just until a crust has formed).

Using the tongs, transfer the chops to the preheated pan in the oven (start the pan sauce as soon as the chops are in the oven). Roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of a chop register 125 or 127 degrees, 8 to 10 minutes (3 to 5 for thinner chops, keep a thermometer running as to prevent over cooking), turning the chops over once halfway through the cooking time. Transfer the chops to a platter, tent loosely with foil, and let rest for 5 minutes. Check the internal temperature, it should register 145 degrees.

Once the chops have been placed in the oven, start the sauce.

Make the sauce: pour off the fat in the skillet used to brown the chops. Place the skillet over medium-high heat and cook the bacon until crisp, about 6 minutes (I have to use a medium low heat to keep the bacon grease from smoking). Transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate; pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the bacon fat. Reduce the heat to low, add the shallots and sugar and cook until the shallots are softened, about 1 minute (do not brown). Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Increase the heat to medium0high, stir in the vinegar, and scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to loosen the browned bits. Add the Marsala wine and simmer until reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the butter, one piece at a time, until melted. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon the sauce over the chops and sprinkle bacon on top.

Serve immediately.

Notes

For thinner chops, sear each side until browned and a crust has formed. It is possible to cook them long enough in the skillet and to not need to place them in the oven. Just let them rest and check the temperature frequently. A safe pork temperature is 145 degrees. If the chops have reached 127 degrees in the skillet, place them in a 250 degree oven for 5 minutes, checking temperature frequently. I like to leave a meat thermometer in them to keep tabs for me. Once they reach 145 degrees, tent with foil until they’re ready to serve.

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