I recently ate at the Little Hen in Holly Springs and had a phenomenal experience. The pork tasted amazing and I couldn’t put my finger on exactly why. Chef Regan was kind enough to visit with us towards the end of our meal as it was getting late and the crowd had tapered off. The secret to his delicious pork? Anchovies. I almost fell out of my chair when he told me that. Anchovies are gross–or so I thought. When used correctly, anchovies add a wonderful savory flavor to your dish and are not “fishy” at all.
This is a recipe for garlic, rosemary and anchovy pork chops. I cooked these chops sous vide, which is french for under vacuum. It is basically a crock pot 2.0 where you put your food/seasonings in a zip lock or vacuum sealed bag and submerge it in water that is regulated to the 10th of a degree. Sous vide is wonderful because your meat remains incredibly juicy, you get consistent results, it’s forgiving and it’s easy. When cooking with high heat on the stove, you often have a very narrow window of minutes where your meat goes from perfect to dry. When cooking sous vide, the window of perfection is literally 1-3 hours because you are gently cooking at low temperatures. This is perfect for when my better half is working and I am making dinner while bathing kiddos and what not. A sous vide set up will cost you $170-$200 and it’s worth every penny. I use an Anova Precision cooker that I scooped up from Amazon. Anova has a free app that you can download from for Apple/Droid. I encourage you to check it out. The possibilities are endless from poached apple desserts, butter poached corn/shrimp, poached eggs and on and on. Don’t have a sous vide and don’t plan on getting one any time soon? I completely agree with Dan’s post about how to cook chops the more conventional way. Pan searing and oven finishing is my go-to technique for everything from burgers to steaks to pork chops. This recipe will also work well with the pan searing and oven finishing technique.
What you need:
- 4 ninja cow chops
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 sprigs of rosemary plus more to garnish
- 2 medium cloves of garlic
- 4 anchovy fillets
- salt/pepper to taste
What you do:
- In a high-powered blender, combine the olive oil with the rosemary, anchovies, garlic, and a dash of salt/pepper. Puree for 30 seconds or so until there are not large chunks of anchovies. Use a silicon spatula to push the mixture down the sides of the blender if needed. The easy way to get the rosemary off the stem is to slide your fingers the opposite direction that the leaves grow. They will come right off.
- If you are not cooking sous vide, marinade the chops for 2-6 hours. If you are cooking sous vide, combine the marinade with the chops in a zip lock, submerge in your sous vide bath until the air is pushed out and then seal the bag. The idea is to get the air out so the heat from the water is efficiently and evenly transferred to the meat. Start cooking.
- All the sous vide cook times are 1-4 hours: Rare is 130 degrees, medium rare is 140 degrees, medium well is 150 degrees and well done is 160 degrees.
- Remove from the zip lock and pat dry with a paper towel. Allow 5 minutes to cool. This is a must with all sous vide cooking to retain moisture when pan searing to finish. Finally, pan sear to finish in a screaming hot skillet with olive oil and a little butter at the end. Remember that your meat is already cooked perfectly, so get the pan really hot to sear the outside quickly without overcooking the interior.
I wanted to make a quick pan reductions sauce with these chops, so I lightly dredged them in flour before pan searing. The flour helps it to brown better and you get more fond in your pan. Fond is the brown crust on your pan after your finish cooking that I used to think was just a mess to clean. Fond is bursting with the flavor of your dish. It’s the base of any good reduction sauce and French cooking is all about maximizing the flavor in dishes. Not only do you get a more flavorful meal, but your cleaning is 90% done before you eat! For this reduction sauce, I minced and sweated a medium shallot and a clove of garlic over medium/high heat until fragrant and the shallots were translucent (about 60-90 seconds). I then “deglazed” the pan with 1/2-1 a cup of chicken stock. Deglazing is a fancy word for dissolving the fond with liquid to unlock all that flavor. Reduce the quantity of liquid to 2-3 tablespoons and thicken with a little butter. The butter may not be necessary if there was still some in your pan from cooking the chops. I also finished this reduction sauce with minced rosemary at the very end of the process.
This pan reduction technique works for all proteins and you can get creative with it. You can layer the reductions for very complex flavors. I also find that a good sauce makes your meals more forgiving if you didn’t cook the meat perfectly. I typically start with aromatics like shallots/garlic and reduce with chicken stock. Then you can add a layer of wine or balsamic vinegar and reduce again. Butter is good for thickening or you can use a corn starch slurry. You can also finish these pan reductions sauces with more aromatics like fresh herbs.