Sometimes I wonder why the whole world isn’t in love with pork! I mean — REALLY! There is no meat that rocks my boat more than pork. It should be the national meat of Italy in my estimation. Either on its own or in a sauce or pasta, it provides flavor like no other. We ate a lot of pork at our house when I was growing up – pork in all forms – from the annual Porchetta at my uncle’s annual Pig Roast to the sausage my father, Attilio made right in our little kitchen. Pork was and still is “the thing”! There is nothing quite like a thick juicy pork chop when cooked just right—and not dried out. Today’s PORK CHOPS WITH SMOKED MOZZARELLA are easy and quick to prepare and with a salad or vegetable on the side provide a perfect meal.
Italians know a good thing! They love and value their pork. The sagre or country festivals of Umbria are known for their pork dishes from wild boar to pork shin. Spring, summer, and fall is the time when these festivals are at their best not only with locals frequenting them but also with tourists and folks who come for the dancing, games, and celebration as well as the good eats. Although you’ll find the festivals in Abruzzo and Tuscany, Umbria is perhaps the best known for its May celebration of Porchettiamo! Roast pork on a spit is the star of this show. On the last day of this festival in Grutti, one of the small towns, you’ll find people dressed in medieval garb tending the roasting porkers. (kind of a Renaissance Festival for pork!)
Here in the US, we are used to just going to the market and buying our cuts of pork. Not all piggies are the same, however! How pork is raised matters. It definitely matters when it comes to flavor and tenderness. That is why I like the Heritage pork from Circle B Ranch.Their Berkshire and Red Wattle hogs are certified raised humanely, and not penned. This certification is not incidental — it is earned. The resulting meat is amazing with delicious flavor that you can appreciate even in your sauce when using their Berkshire Neck Bones. Ordering is easy and the meat arrives well packed and fresh. I like to use their pork as much as possible and have used their chops in today’s recipe.
About the dish: You’ll notice I used a thick chop for this dish. It cooks quickly even with the thickness. I love smoked mozzarella (mozzarella affumicata) with pork. The smokiness is light but just seems offer the right flavor. Couple it with the sweetness of the caramelized red onions and you have yourself a dish with some complexity and lots of interest – with very little effort.
PORK CHOPS WITH SMOKED MOZZARELLA AND CARAMELIZED ONIONS
Prep: About 10 minutes
Cook: About 10 minutes
2 Thick Pork Chops (About 1 1/2 in. thick – if using thinner – adjust your cook time)
2 Tbsp. Butter
1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
Four for dredging seasoned with some salt and pepper
1 Clove Fresh Garlic – chopped finely
2 Large Sprigs or 2 Tbsp. Chopped Fresh Rosemary (extra for garnish)
1/2 C. Pinot Noir or Valpolicella wine
Salt and Pepper to taste
4 Slices Smoked Mozzarella (sold at most grocers)
Caramelized Red Onion (see below for recipe)
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
Dredge your chops in the season flour on both sides, coating well.
In an oven proof pan cook the chops in the melted butter and oil for about 3 minutes each side at medium high heat.
Add the garlic, rosemary, wine, salt & pepper.
Cook a minute, turning the chops over a couple of times.
Remove the pan from the heat and place it in the preheated oven.
Cook uncovered for about 3 minutes each side. (If chops are thinner, adjust your cook time)
Then place your slices of smoked mozzarella on top of each chop.
Put the pan back in the oven for a couple of minutes until the cheese softens.
Remove the pan from the oven and top your chops with a generous amount of the caramelized red onions – garnish with fresh Rosemary.
Caramelized Red Onion
Makes: one red onion
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: About 6 minutes
1 Red (purple) Onion – sliced thinly
2 Tbsp. Butter
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
2 Tbsp. Water
1 Tbsp. Balsamic Vinegar
1 Tsp. Sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
Place sliced onion in the butter (melted) and oil in a fry pan.
Add the water, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper.
Place the pan over medium high heat and cook at a strong simmer, stirring occasionally.
The water will evaporate. Continue to cook until the onions are very soft and caramelized.
This takes about 6 minutes.
Serve your PORK CHOPS WITH SMOKED MOZZARELLA AND CARAMELIZED ONIONS with a nice dry red wine – perhaps with the Pinot Noir or Valpolicella that you cooked with.
PARLA COME MANGI!
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Food Photos By Tommy Hanks Photography