For the last year I have been unable to grill unless I decided to go over to my parents house. While it has truly been a first-world sacrifice, it has pushed me to learn how to pan-roast some of my favorite cuts of meat I would ordinarily cook on the grill. Pork chops fall into this category. One of my favorite ways to cook them on the grill is with a simple marinade of fresh rosemary, thyme, garlic, salt and pepper, and olive oil. It’s really that simple.
But without a grill, how do you achieve a similar result? Enter the cast-iron skillet. They come in multiple sizes, and I have both a 10 and 12 inch cast-iron skillet that I use for making bacon on weekend mornings (a revelation) or even frying fried chicken. The thing about cast-iron is that you don’t clean it with soap EVER. Instead, you drain the excess fat and oil from the skillet and wipe it down with a paper towel. This is known as “seasoning” the skillet, and helps create some natural flavors during the cooking process. I’m sure my mother-in-law could probably attest to and elaborate on different cooking methods and the majestry of cast-iron. She edited an entire cast-iron cooking magazine/book last year.
So now that you know cast-iron, how to you pan-roast a pork chop? For starters, its all about the pork chop. I really prefer bone-in pork chops. Whenever you cook with a bone-in cut of meat you get additional flavor. If you just have ordinary pork chops, that works too. Sometimes you have to cook with what you can find and what looks good. Whatever you pick, this is what I season my pork chop with:
- Kosher Salt
- Black Pepper
- Herbs de Provence
I’m sure the last ingredient here is giving a lot of people pause, so let me tell you what this herb is. Herbs de Provence is a blend of dried spices found in southeastern France (Provence). The typical combination includes thyme, rosemary, lavender, fennel, savory, mint, basil, bay leaf, marjoram, tarragon and chevril. Obviously, a lot of herbs, but the predominant flavor is thyme. I use Allspices’ Herbs de Provence blend available here.
A word of caution – a little Herbs de Provence goes a long way. I use maybe 2 teaspoons on a pork chop, enough to give a light coating on both sides after I’ve seasoned it with salt and pepper. Use with caution – you don’t want the pork chop becoming a thyme bomb (pun intended).
Heat your oven up to 400 degrees and bring your stovetop to medium-high heat – you want a hot saute pan. What I have essentially figured out is this – 10 minutes of cooking gives you a perfect medium cooked pork chop. If you want it a little more done, just leave it in the oven longer. But using about 1 tablespoon of oil (I prefer grapeseed) and 1 tablespoon of butter, I get the cast-iron skillet hot and sear the pork chop on both sides for 3 minutes, or until golden brown. Do not be tempted to constantly move/check the pork chop during searing. When you do, it never gets browned. From there, I put it in the oven for about 4 minutes. After that, remove and let the meat rest for 5 minutes (just put the pork chop on a plate and cover it tightly with aluminum foil and DON’T TOUCH IT).
That’s all it is. A perfect pan-roasted pork chop. It goes really well with a simple salad and a Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio.
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