May 24, 2011

San Francisco Pork Chops

Juli's parents dropped by for a visit on Saturday, and I decided to cook up a nice lunch for the occasion.   This seemed a good time to try out a recipe I'd been wanting to make for awhile:  San Francisco Pork Chops.

I'm not sure why these are considered San Francisco Chops.  Maybe it's because they incorporate some seasonings typical of Asian cuisine (soy sauce, crushed red pepper flakes, brown sugar), or maybe some the dish became famous at some San Fran restaurant.  In any case, they're sure popular.  If you look online, you'll find a bunch of recipes for San Francisco Pork Chops.  Taste of Home has one, and so do a number of blogs, including Tried-and-True Cooking with Heidi.  Slow cooker and skillet versions are both popular. 

Most of the recipes are pretty close to identical, so I took that as a sign that the core recipe really works and didn't tinker too much.  I did use some really large, thick, bone-in chops (the four chops together weighed almost 3 lbs), but other than that all I did was boost the garlic by a small amount. 

These chops turned out great!  After seasoning and browning them on both sides, I cooked a bit of garlic and then let the chops simmer in a flavorful sauce for about15 minutes.  At the end of that time I transferred the chops to a serving platter, then I added some cornstarch to thicken the sauce and used the thickened sauce to top the chops.  They were perfectly cooked - a deep bronzed brown on the outside, moist and tender on the inside - and very, very flavorful, with the thick, browned sauce lifting the chops past "really good" into "really, really excellent" territory. 

I served the chops and sauce atop rice and added a side of steamed broccoli and carrots.  All together, this made for a very nice lunch, which had been my goal.   Finding an excellent, fast and easy go-to recipe in the process is a real plus.

Maybe I'll try my hand at a slow cooker version one of these days.  When I do, I'll report back here.

San Francisco Pork Chops

yield = 4 very ample servings

4                large, thick, bone-in pork chops
                  salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
1                tablespoon canola oil
1/4             cup sherry
1/4             cup low-sodium soy sauce
2                tablespoons brown sugar
1/4             teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2                teaspoons minced garlic
2                tablespoons water
1                tablespoon cornstarch

Season chops on both sides with salt and pepper.   Add oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat and heat until the oil just starts to smoke, then add the chops.  Cook until well-browned on both sides (about 5 minutes per side).  While the chops are browning, combine the sherry, soy sauce, brown sugar and red pepper flakes in a small bowl and stir to dissolve the sugar.

After the chops are browned on both sides, sprinkle them with the minced garlic, turn them over to cook the garlic, then pour in the sherry/soy mixture.  Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to a medium simmer.  Cook until done (15-20 minutes for thick chops), turning the chops once during this time. While the chops simmer, combine the water and cornstarch in a small bowl and stir to dissolve the cornstarch.

Transfer the chops to a serving platter.   Stir the cornstarch mixture into the pan liquid and cook until it thickens.  Top the chops with the thickened sauce and serve over rice.

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