French Pork Chops (Côtes de Porc)
Here is a simple and yet delicious pork chop dish you can make in practically no time. And it’s plenty good enough for company or a special occasion.
As usual, I recommend buying rib chops if they are available, and brining them for an hour before cooking, if you have the time.
The dish shown on the right shows the chop on a bed of chopped lettuce, basted with a simple pan sauce, and garnished with chopped cornichons. If you don’t have any of those little French pickles, use tiny dill pickles chopped up instead. The lettuce soaks up the juices from the chop, along with the sauce.
I served oven fried potatoes, another French specialty, along with Brussel sprouts. This meal was a huge hit, and I’ve been asked to make it again, this time for guests.
4 to 6 pork chops, preferably rib chops
1/2 teaspoon sage
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
salt and pepper (if you brine the chops, you may omit the salt)
3/4 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons cold butter
1/4 cup chopped cornichons (or tiny dill pickles)
2 cups shredded romaine or iceberg lettuce (I prefer iceberg for this)
After brining, rinse the chops and pat them dry. Season both sides of the chops with the sage, thyme, salt (if using), and pepper. Heat about 1/4 inch oil in a skillet, and when shimmering, add three or four chops. Fry five minutes on the first side and four minutes on the other side. If they stick to the skillet, use a spatula to loosen them. When all the chops are done, set them in a warm place (maybe a 180 degree oven) while you finish the sauce.
Pour the wine into the pan, scraping up the fond (that’s the yummy sticky stuff on the pan). This not only loosens the fond for flavoring the sauce, but also does a great job of cleaning the pan. Simmer the sauce for five minutes, and then whisk in the butter one tablespoon at a time to thicken the sauce.
Serve the chops on the chopped lettuce, pour the sauce over, and sprinkle with the chopped cornichons. Serve with vegetables of your choice, a small salad, and French bread with olive oil. And wine.