Pork chops are so easy. They cook up quickly without much fuss, which makes them great for mid-week dinners. I especially like pork paired with something that has a little sweetness. Fruits like apples, cherries, and apricots are clear winners – but so are the sugars from slowly caramelized fennel, onion, and sweet potatoes in this hash.
Brining the pork chops not only infuses more flavors into the meat, but it helps ensure that the meat will stay moist and juicy when cooked.
- 4 bone-in pork chops from U.S. Wellness Meats
- 3 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 6 cups water
- 2 bulbs fennel
- 1 large sweet potato, cut into 1/2 inch dice
- 1 sweet onion, cut into large dice
- 3 slices bacon from U.S. Wellness Meats, cut into 1 inch pieces
- extra-virgin olive oil
- kosher salt
- freshly ground pepper or pepper blend
In a one-gallon resealable bag, mix 3 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt with the maple syrup and water. Shake well until the salt has dissolved. Place the pork chops in the bag, seal, and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.
Preheat oven to 400F.
Place the fennel, sweet potato, and onion into a shallow roasting pan. Season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Gently toss with just enough olive oil to coat the vegetables and the pan. Arrange the bacon pieces over the vegetables. Roast at 400F, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are browned in places and bacon is cooked (approximately 40 minutes).
Dry the pork chops with paper toweling. Season with freshly ground black pepper. (No additional salt should be needed due to the brine.)
Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add a thin layer of olive oil to the skillet, and sauté two of the pork chops for approximately 4 minutes per side, until nicely browned. (You don’t want to crowd the pan or the chops will not brown quickly and will get overdone.) Set the cooked pork chops aside in a warm place, and repeat for the last two pork chops. Note: Take care not to overcook. Pork chops are done when they reach 145F, if you have a meat thermometer, and are safe to eat even if slightly pink in the center.
Serve the pork chops with the sweet potato and fennel hash…and enjoy!
Dire Straits kicked off the 1980’s with what many feel is their masterpiece, Making Movies. Guitarist Mark Knopfler hit the mark on such songs as “Romeo and Juliet”, “Tunnel of Love” and “Skateaway”, which still sound fresh 30 years later.