Mother always knows best. Just because I’m in my forties with children of my own doesn’t mean my mom doesn’t occasionally offer some helpful advice.
Like most kids, I didn’t exactly relish constructive criticism when I was young. But with age comes wisdom—at least I like to think so—and I find myself taking well-meaning suggestions to heart, even welcoming them.
Mom’s most recent tidbit came after she graciously proofread a piece of my writing. After pointing out a stroke or two of red ink, she lightly mentioned that my readers might appreciate a piece of meat in my next column.
It had, in fact, occurred to me that, after a long, hot summer, I had covered the warm weather bases quite well. There were fruity breakfasts, frozen treats, hearty salads and a variety of light meals. Grilled chicken made an appearance, and tuna said hello, but many of the recipes were veggie heavy. With fall upon us, mom thought some stick-to-your-ribs fare was in order.
Further steering my choice, a reader recently emailed to ask if I had a favorite pork recipe. She was trying to break out of her oft-repeated chicken habit and noted that my website was a tad short in the pork department.
Because pork chops are quick cooking and can be a delicious source of lean protein, they do make regular weeknight appearances at our house. My usual way of preparing them is on the stovetop. After a quick sear on both sides, I add some sort of sauce to add moisture, flavor, and in the case of the following recipe, an Asian twist.
The only challenge to this recipe is cooking the pork to the point of doneness without overdoing it. An overcooked pork chop will be dry, whereas one that’s cooked to the correct internal temperature will be full of juicy flavor. My best tip is to use a quick-read thermometer and cook until the pork reaches 145 degrees F. By relying on temperature instead of time, you can use any thickness chop you like, bone-in or boneless, and have a perfect result every time.
For added convenience, the sauce can be mixed in advance in a few short minutes. When dinnertime rolls around, the remaining cook time is quick. I keep a few 8-ounce cartons of chicken broth on hand with this meal in mind. After using the requisite half cup, I place the remaining half cup (still in the box) in the freezer for the next time.
Four pork chops fit well in a 12-inch skillet. Lately, my younger son has been requesting two. There will be sufficient sauce for an extra chop. In that case, you’ll likely need a pan with a 14-inch diameter—or brown the pork in two batches.
The extra sauce adds great flavor to grains and veggies for an instant upgrade to a variety of side dishes–think rice, sweet potatoes, broccoli, etc.
- 2 teaspoons oil for pan
- 4 pork chops (I usually use boneless, about 3/4 to 1-inch thick*)
- 1⁄2 cup (120 ml) chicken broth
- 1⁄4 cup (84 grams) honey**
- 1⁄4 cup (60 ml) low-sodium soy sauce or tamari
- 2 tablespoons (34 grams) ketchup
- 1⁄4 teaspoon garlic salt (or 2 cloves, minced)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sriracha sauce***
Mix the sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside. Make ahead tip: Sauce may be mixed in advance and left at room temperature for several hours or covered and refrigerated for up to a day or two. If refrigerated, return the sauce to room temperature before browning the pork chops. Stir the sauce before adding to the pan.
Heat the oil in a 12- to 14-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Brown the pork chops on both sides, about 3-4 minutes per side. If the chops are on the thinner side, they may be cooked through at this point. (Check the temperature with a quick-read thermometer. Chops are done at 145 degrees F, but for this recipe it’s best to remove them when they are still a little pink inside, about 135 to 140 degrees F.) If the chops are thicker, continue to cook until the chops have reached this point. Then remove them to a plate.
Immediately, pour the sauce into the pan, bring to a boil, and reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer, uncovered, for a few minutes or until the sauce has thickened. Once the sauce is just thick enough to coat the pork nicely, add the chops back to the pan and turn them several times to coat with the sauce. Serve with an extra spoonful or two of sauce overtop.
- *Pork chop thickness varies widely, from a 1/2-inch or so to well over an inch. I typically use boneless pork chops but have used bone-in as well. Bone-in chops are often thicker and will require extra cooking time. Choose according to personal preference and availability and rely on a cooking thermometer (as described in the directions) to accurately judge doneness.
- **Our personal preference is to use 1/4 cup of honey as written in the recipe, although I’ve made the sauce with 3 tablespoons, and it still tastes quite good. For those who may be watching sugar consumption, you could try the lesser amount.
- ***Feel free to adjust the amount of sriracha sauce up or down as preferred; the stated amount provides just a bit of a kick—I’d say somewhere between a medium and hot salsa. Cayenne pepper may be used instead. In this case start with 1/8-1/4 teaspoon and adjust to taste.
- An additional testing note: With thicker chops, I have browned them, poured the sauce overtop, and continued to cook altogether until the sauce has thickened and the pork has reached an internal temperature of 145 degrees F. However, I find that the instructed method of cooking the chops until nearly done, removing them to a plate, and then proceeding with the sauce offers more control.