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Sautéed Pork Chops with Pan Sauce

There is no better recipe for sautéed pork chops than the one written by Bruce Aidells and Denis Kelly in The Complete Meat Cookbook (Houghton Mifflin, 1998).  It is very specific, going so far as to describe the sounds that the chops should make while cooking.  Following these instructions will result in perfect chops.  We have copied their recipes here, almost verbatim.  Indeed, all the recipes in this cookbook for beef, pork, and lamb are good.  It is a frequently-used volume in our collection.


Pork Chops
4 Pork chops, 1 ¼ to 1 ½ inch thick
1 Tbsp olive oil
Salt & Pepper

Master Pan Sauce
1 Tbsp reserved chop fat
2 tsp finely chopped garlic
½ cup dry white wine or dry vermouth
½ cup chicken or beef stock
1 tsp chopped fresh herbs (sage, rosemary, thyme, savory, or dill)
Salt & Pepper

Maple Bourbon Pan Sauce
1 Tbsp reserved chop fat
½ cup finely chopped onions
½ cup chicken stock
½ cup bourbon whiskey
1 Tbsp cider vinegar
1 Tbsp maple syrup
Ginger & Nutmeg
Salt & Pepper

Onion and Mustard Pan Sauce
1 Tbsp reserved chop fat
1 cup thinly sliced onions
½ cup dry white wine or dry vermouth
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
½ tsp chopped fresh dill or rosemary
¼ cup sour cream


Pork Chops

  1. Season 4 pork chops, cut 1¼ to 1½ inch thick with salt and pepper.  
  2. In a large, heavy skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over high heat.  
  3. When the pan is hot enough to sear the chops but not burn them, add the chops.  They should make a gentle hissing sound when they hit the pan, not an explosive sputter.
  4. Adjust the heat if the pan seems too hot or remove the pan from the heat for 30 seconds or so (count this time as part of the overall cooking time).  
  5. Sear the chops on one side for 1 to 2 minutes, or until beginning to brown lightly.  Turn the chops over and sear for 1 minute more.
  6. Reduce the heat so that the chops continue to sizzle—do not turn the heat so low that there are no more sizzling sound; if the heat is too low, the chops will sweat and juices will exude from the meat and leave it dry.  
  7. Cover the pan and cook for 3 or 4 more minutes, depending on how thick the chops are.  
  8. Turn and cook them for 3 to 4 minutes more on the other side.  The chops are done when the meat is firm but not hard when pressed with a finger.  Better still, test them with an instant-read thermometer—the meat should measure 145 to 155 degrees and will still be acceptable at 160 degrees.  
  9. Remove the chops from the pan, cover loosely with foil, and let them rest for 5 minutes or so before serving, to stabilize the juices.  Serve the chops or, while they are resting, make a quick pan sauce.

Master Pan Sauce

  1. Pour off all but about 1 tablespoon of fat from the pan, leaving any meat juices.  
  2. Adjust the heat to medium and put in 2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic.  
  3. Stir and cook for 30 seconds, then add ½ dry white wine or dry vermouth, ½ cup chicken or beef stock, and 1 teaspoon chopped fresh herbs such as sage, rosemary, thyme, savory, or dill (or ½ teaspoon if dried).  Scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.  
  4. Bring the sauce to a boil and reduce it over high heat until it just turns syrupy.  
  5. Put the pork chops back into the pan and turn them several times in the sauce to transfer the flavors.  This should take no more than 30 seconds—do not cook the chops in the sauce.  
  6. Taste for salt and pepper. Serve the chops with the sauce.

Maple Bourbon Pan Sauce

  1. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the fat and add ½ cup finely chopped onion.  
  2. Cook for 3 minutes, covered, over medium heat, stirring occasionally.  
  3. Stir in ½ cup chicken stock, ¼ cup bourbon whiskey, 1 tablespoon cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon maple syrup, and a pinch each of ground ginger and nutmeg. Scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
  4. Boil the sauce for 2 to 3 minutes. It should not become syrupy, but will have an intense flavor nonetheless.  If you prefer a thicker sauce, whisk in 2 teaspoons cornstarch dissolved in 2 tablespoons cold water (optional) just before serving.  
  5. Taste for salt and pepper, pour the sauce over the chops, and serve.

Onion and Mustard Pan Sauce

  1. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the fat from the pan and add 1 cup thinly sliced onions.
  2. Sauté for 5 minutes and stir in ½ cup white wine or dry vermouth, 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, and ½ teaspoon chopped fresh or dried dill or rosemary.  Scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
  3. Boil the sauce for a minute or two until it begins to turn syrupy.
  4. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in ¼ cup low fat or regular sour cream.
  5. Pour sauce over chops and serve.


Bruce Aidells and Denis Kelly, The Complete Meat Cookbook  (Houghton Mifflin, 1998).