I'm generally not a huge fan of pork chops. With the exception of the smoked pork chop at one of my favorite Atlanta restaurants, I feel like they are often dried out, overcooked, and kind of bland. But so many people seem to love them, so I figured I'd give them another shot. I was so smitten with the idea of this cranberry-maple pan sauce, so I started by going to Whole Foods and buying the biggest, thickest, bone-in chops ever. I then enlisted the help of my friend Elly, who gave me some chop-cooking tips.
The result? Awesome! By using a thicker-cut, bone-in pork chop, you lower the risk of the meat cooking too quickly and drying out. And pan-searing the chops followed by a brief stint in the oven ensures that it cooks evenly throughout. Pan sauces are one of my favorite ways to spice up a simple pan-roasted protein, and this one was really great. A little tart from the cranberries and vinegar, with sweetness from the maple syrup. And by making the sauce in the same pan as the pork chops, you get all those super flavorful bits from the bottom of the pan.
If you're a pork chop novice like me, this recipe is a great jumping off point. Because even if you happen to overcook your meat, the pan sauce will help mask that. If you are a pork chop hater, then I think this method and sauce would also work really well with chicken or pork tenderloin.
I served this with mashed potatoes and brussels sprouts, but I think sweet potatoes would be really great as well - a pork chop Thanksgiving dinner, if you will!
Pork Chops with Cranberry-Maple Pan Sauce
sauce adapted from Fine Cooking
- 4 (1- 1 1/2- inch thick) bone-in pork chops
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 Tbs olive oil
- 1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
- 1/2 cup chicken broth
- 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
- 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 2 tsp Dijon mustard
- pinch red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Pat the pork dry and season well on both sides with salt and pepper.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the pork chops 3-4 minutes per side, until golden brown - you may need to do this in 2 batches, depending on the size of each pork chop. Transfer to the oven and cook until the center reaches 135 degrees (using an instant-read thermometer), about 7-10 minutes.
Transfer the chops to a plate and cover loosely with foil. Return the skillet to the stovetop. Add the cranberries, chicken broth, maple syrup, vinegar, mustard, red pepper flakes, and thyme and cook over medium heat until the cranberries burst and the sauce thickens, about 7 minutes. Use a whisk to incorporate the mustard into the sauce and scrape the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Taste and season with salt and pepper if needed.
Return the chops to the pan and turn a few times to coat well with the sauce. Divide among plates and serve immediately, spooning the sauce over the chops.