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Oh pork. I have a serious love hate relationship with pork. On the one hand, bacon, pork belly, and pork butt are among my absolute favorite cuts to work with…on the hand other pork chops and loin are temperamental to cook. I’ve made it a personal challenge to master them, because nothing is worse than a dry pork chop. So you know if I’m sharing one, it’s damn good. This simple recipe for stove top pork chops was inspired by a recipe given to me by my aunt and for weeks I’ve been playing with it until I finally had a delicious, moist pork chop, seared to perfection then simmered in a sticky orange sauce infused with fresh ginger.
With only 4 simple ingredients (plus salt and pepper of course) to make this sauce, it’s become a easy dinner favorite, even on busy weeknights. Served with a nice vegetable side and rice to soak up all that extra sauce, and it’s a dinner your whole family will love.
I love a good simple recipe with simple ingredients, but I often find that going with simple ingredients makes choosing them even more important.
One of the main reasons I keep coming back to pork chops is that they’re an inexpensive and quick cooking protein. I recommend one of these types of chops:
- Bone in rib chop – Most inexpensive, good fat, and my usual choice.
- Bone in center cut chop – Good fat, more expensive, with a nice small piece of tenderloin.
- Boneless chop – Least fat, hardest to cook, and arguably the least flavorful.
Regardless of your choice, look for a bright pink color with decent marbling.
For all pork chops the KEY to moist tender meat , is cooking to the proper temperature. Pork should be cooked to 145°F. Many years ago, borne of fear of food borne illness, cooking pork well-done was standard and recommended. The risk of that has long been eradicated and it is now not only safe, but recommended to cook to a nice medium.
Go over that and that’s when you get dry tough pork. The best way to accomplish that is to cook your chops quickly with high heat. Broiling, grilling, or in this case, pan searing.
That’s actually your first step a nice sear to lock in moisture and add beautiful texture.
After you give those chops a nice sear, you’re going to want those delicious brown bits from the bottom of that pan. It’s called the fond and it’s an easy way to bring salty porky goodness to the sauce.
To get it from the pan, deglazing is the next step. There are many ways to do this of course, stock, vinegar, and my favorite wine. For this recipe go with a white wine that has citrus notes to compliment the orange. A sauvignon blanc or pinot grigio would be my go to.
The big powerhouse of flavor here, orange juice is absolutely essential. However, contrary to what most grocery stores would have you believing oranges are not in season all year. Their peak season is actually mostly winter months, other than the Valencia orange (which I’ve never been able to find in my grocery stores).
So, if you’re in those peak orange months, please go for it and use fresh squeezed orange juice. You’ll need 1 cup, between 2-3 ripe juicy oranges.
If your making this now, in the middle of summer like me, you can use 100% real orange juice. I like pulp free, natural orange juice not from concentrate.
Sugar in this sauce is what gives it the sticky, luscious thickness. It also helps tame the bite of wine and the sourness from oranges.
I prefer brown sugar, the molasses gives the sauce a nice deep richness rather than the intense sweetness of white sugar.
Ginger is one of those interesting spices for me. It’s got a spicyness, a sweetness, and an interesting fresh woody flavor all at once. It’s intense and so I prefer to use it as I do with other fresh herbs and spices, as an infusion rather than something I actually chew on.
You can absolutely use powdered ginger, but the flavor isn’t quite the same and I didn’t love the slight texture it left in an otherwise very smooth sauce.
Instead you’ll need a hunk of ginger 2 inches or so long. Use a spoon to scrape away the skin, and slice it into 1/4″ rounds. Toss it into the sauce to add a lovely brightness and subtle spice.
To read about properly storing fresh ginger, read here.
How to Cook Stove Top Pork Chops
With those simple ingredients a similarly simple cooking process follows.
Begin with a searing hot pan, with about 2 tablespoons of oil. Salt and pepper both sides of the pork and add them to the pan. Sear for 2-3 minutes on either side, then remove to a rack set over a baking sheet. This prevents soggy or steamed bottoms.
Reduce the heat to medium and add the wine, using a spoon to scrape the brown bits from the pan. Once you have add the orange juice, sugar, and ginger. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally and reduce by 2/3.
Once the sauce is darkened in color and thickened to a loose syrup, return the pork to the pan and continue to cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, turning to coat the chops. Check the temperature of the meat and when it reaches 140°F remove the pan from heat.
When you’re ready to serve, place the pork with your sides (I really recommend rice, scrumptious!) and spoon the sauce liberally over the chops. Then Enjoy!
Tips for the perfect stove top pork chops
Just a few final tips to make sure you enjoy these pork chops!
- Sear in a pan that retains heat well and can sear properly. If at all possible, try to use something other than nonstick, like a heavy duty cast iron or enameled cast iron pan.
- Do not cook your pork cold. Remove from fridge 30 mins before cooking. This ensures even cooking within and without.
- Don’t overcrowd your pan when searing, if you pan isn’t large enough to leave room between the chops sear in 2 batches instead. This avoids steaming the meat. When you return to the pan with the sauce later you can add them all at once.
- If your pork as a thick fat cap, you can stand it up in the pan to render the fat and get a nice crispy edge.
- When in doubt, use a thermometer. A quick instant read thermometer will make it much easier to remove the pork at the correct temp. It takes only a minute to over cook, so if possible use one!
- Don’t have a thermometer? Touch the tip of your thumb to the tip of your ring finger and touch your palm at the base of your thumb. This is how a medium cook feels when touched.
- Remove pan from heat BEFORE the pork reaches 145°F. Residual heat from the pan and sauce will bring the pork up 5° or so.
- Choose pork chops that are 2 or more inches thick. This makes cooking easier. Thinner pork chops are harder to cook as they cook to a well done very fast.
This is only the first step of my mastery of lean pork cookery, and I can’t wait to share more recipes as I discover tips and tricks and amazing flavors. For now this first pork chop recipe is easy, delicious, and a real family pleaser. I hope you and your loved ones enjoy this recipe, I’d love to hear what you think! Until next time, Happy Eating!
- 4 2 in thick pork chops Bone in Rib Chop suggested
- 2 Tbs grapeseed oil*
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp black pepper
- 1 cup dry white wine*
- 1 cup orange juice*
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 8 1/4 in slices of fresh ginger
- Pull pork chops out of fridge 30 minutes before cooking.
- Heat a heavy duty pan over medium high heat. When very hot, salt and pepper both sides of all 4 pork chops. Add oil to hot pan then carefully lay in pork.*
- Sear each side 2-3 minutes. Remove from pan and set on a rack to rest while you prepare the sauce.
- Reduce heat to medium, add the wine and use a spoon to gently lift brown bits from the bottom of the pan.
- Add orange juice and sugar and stir to combine. Peel and slice your ginger then add to the pan.
- Bring the sauce to a rapid simmer (increase heat if necessary), and reduce by 2/3, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes or so.
- When sauce is a dark caramel color and thickened to a loose syrup, carefully taste and if necessary adjust salt with a few pinches.
- Return pork to pan and simmer until pork reaches an internal temperature of 140°F, turning the pork over occasionally to coat. Remove pan from heat.
- Serve and enjoy!