Tag Archives: pork chops

Roasted Pork Chops With Fennel – Dead Easy To Make (serves 6)

There is nothing easier than throwing a few chops in the oven for dinner, which is what I did last night. When you have the time to wait, there is nothing more succulent than slow-cooked meat with a few key flavors.

Roasted Pork Chops With Fennel (with basmati rice)

Roasted Pork Chops With Fennel (with basmati rice)

My inspiration was my sister June who called me the other day while she was rummaging in her cupboards for dinner ideas. We have these conversations a lot (even though she is in Ireland) and as she was listing what she had in her fridge she announced she had 2 fennel bulbs languishing in the vegetable drawer….(She text me later from her supermarket saying she had decided on Caribbean Style Chicken!”)

Anyway, that made me think of the lovely flavor of fennel with its liquorish-y sweetness, so I grabbed one when at the supermarket yesterday and it was the highlight of my pork chop dinner. This dinner is easy, inexpensive and a major crowd-pleaser. It tasted especially comforting last night as the snow came down in quiet torrents.


You will need:

3 large pork loin Chops (loin end, sirloin) (medium thickness)

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

5 to 6 tbs olive oil

1 medium/large sweet onion, large dice

2 celery ribs, including leaves, sliced

2 carrots, peeled & thickly sliced

1 large fennel bulb, thickly sliced

2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, chopped

1 tbs ground coriander

1 veggie or chicken stock cube

1 cup white or red wine

7 cups water

1 cup freshly chopped cilantro (if you don’t have this ingredient, don’t worry)

*If you are serving this with rice: use 2 cups raw rice for stove top method and 3 cups with rice cup measure if using rice cooker*


Preheat oven 400*

1 – Generously season chops on both sides with sea-salt and freshly ground black pepper. Put big casserole pot or deep saute pan on high heat and add 3 tbs of oil. When it is very hot, add 2 or 3 of the chops (depending on the size of your pan) in an even, un-crowded layer. Sear on both side until browned. Transfer to a plate as you go. Continue adding oil and chops until all six have been browned.

sear chops

Sear chops

2 – Turn heat down and add the onion, and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally for two minutes before adding the sliced fennel bulb and carrots. Continue to saute for another 5 or so minutes.

saute veggies

Saute veggies

3 – Add the coriander, broken bouillon cube and chipotle pepper with adobo sauce and mix into the veggies.

Add seasonings

Add seasonings

4 – Add the wine and turn up heat and bring to a slight bubble. Cook for about 2 or 3 minutes before adding the rest of the liquid (7 cups water). Turn heat up to high and bring to a boil.

Add liquids

Add liquids

5 – Add the chops, cover with a tight-fitting lid and place in the oven for 1 1/2 hours.

Add chops

Add chops

6 – Remove from oven and stir in the chopped cilantro. Cover with lid and let pot sit for five minutes before serving.

Roasted Pork Chops With Fennel

Roasted Pork Chops With Fennel

Serve on its own with a salad, or with a starch such as rice, pasta, bread or boiled and buttered potatoes.

Pork Chops in Seriously Good Red Sauce (serves 6)

Pork Chops in Seriously Good Red Sauce

My day was so busy I didn’t think too much about dinner until it was time to make it. I would have to make do with whatever was available in my kitchen, as I wasn’t in the mood to go grocery shopping. The only protein I had was pork chops, and after that, the fridge looked a little like old Mother Hubbard’s pantry:bare!

important flavor ingredients

What saves me at moments like this is the fact that I always have onions on hand, and a supply of herbs in the backyard. That would have been enough to work with, but I also discovered a big can of crushed tomatoes and so settled on a rich red sauce. What made it rich was the cup of red wine I added to the mix. I had some red wine and was looking for an excuse to use it for something other than drinking it (too fruity for my plate). It worked perfectly.

The sauce is something that could easily stand alone, (without the meat) and would work great for a lasagna or a nice alternative for a marinara sauce.

So you see, you can make something seriously good without too many ingredients. All you need are the basics, and winging the rest can be fun.


You will need:

6 tbs extra-virgin olive oil

6 Rib-end pork loin chops

2 large sweet onions, large dice

2 celery ribs, diced (including leaves)

6 fresh oregano sprigs

28 oz canned crushed tomatoes (I used San Marzano)

1 cup red wine

1 cup water

2 tsp sea-salt (I used Maldon sea-salt flakes)

several grinds black pepper


Preheat oven 450*

1 – Prep all veggies. Season chops with salt and several grinds of pepper. Place big saute pan on high heat and add about 3 tbs of the oil. When it is hot add pork chops in single layer, and sear on both side until golden brown. Add oil as necessary and continue to cook meat until everything is seared, transferring to a plate as you go.

Sear chops on high heat

2 – Turn heat down to medium and add the onions, and celery. Saute for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Saute onions & celery

3 – Add oregano and continue to cook for another 3 minutes.

add herbs

4 – Add wine and turn heat to high. Let the liquid bubble for about 3 minutes (the wine will reduce and intensify).

then wine

5 – Add the crushed tomatoes and water, and bring mixture to a bubble. Turn off heat and add pork chops to the sauce in an even a layer as possible (there will be some overlapping, which is fine)

add crushed tomatoes & water

6 – Cover with lid and place in oven for 1 hour. Remove from oven and let sit for 10 minutes to rest and cool down.


Serve with whatever you have on hand: it is good with rice, pasta, potatoes, romaine leaves or even by itself.

Simple Pork Chops with Wilted Escarole (serves 4)

My cooking has changed since moving to Cortona, Italy. I have always cooked in a very spontaneous way, but never more so than now!

My new habit has to do with the way this little town works. The shops open early, and if you want fresh bread and pastries, you should really get there in the morning. The fresh fish is here in the piazza on Wednesday and Saturday mornings, and, if you want the best pick of chicken legs or pork chops, you need to check in everyday.

Simple Pork Chops with Wilted Escarole

I love getting up and taking the short stroll down to the center of town. I stop in for a frothy cappuccino, and, armed with little shopping bags, I make my rounds.

I have been trying to learn the names of the different pastries, vegetables, and cuts of meat. I’m sure by the time I am ready to go home I will have them all down!

delicate escarole

I have no plan for dinner until I make my morning purchases. This particular day, the pork chops looked delicious, and this head of escarole practically jumped into my arms; chops and escarole it is!

My man Dave sampling a bit of prosciutto

And so, this is how my cooking has been going here in my new hilltop city. Lazily shopping, and cooking while sipping on my new favorite aperitif, and, last but not least, spending time with my lovely family, along with dear old friends mixed in with some great new ones.


You will need: 4 pork chops, (this would also work with six chops. If you do, add more onions), 4 (or more) tbs extra-virgin olive oil, 2 tsp sea-salt (I used Maldon sea-salt flakes), several grinds cracked black pepper, 8 small onions, peeled & left whole, 6 cloves garlic, left whole in skin, 1 cup white wine, 1 cup chicken broth, 1 sprig fresh rosemary, 1 head escarole, 1 tsp cayenne pepper flakes.

Preheat oven 400*

1 – Season meat with salt and pepper.

Season chops. (I used Maldon sea salt flakes)

2 – Put saute pan on high heat and add about 2 or 3 tbs of oil. When it is hot, add the chops in a single layer. Sear on both sides until nicely browned. Transfer to a heavy pot or casserole.

sear meat on both sides

3 – Turn heat down and add the onions. Cook until starting to brown on all sides (about 10 minutes). Add the rosemary at the end of the cooking time.

saute whole onions

4 – Add the wine and boil until it is reduced by half. Add the broth and bring back to a boil. Pour liquid with onions over chops. Cover and place in oven for 45 minutes, or until the meat is tender.

boil white wine under it reduces

5 – While meat is cooking, wash the escarole and roughly chop. Put about 1 1/2 cups of water in a big pot and when it comes to a boil, add the escarole and cover. Simmer for about five minutes. Put big saute pan on medium heat and add 2 tbs of oil. Add the drained escarole and cayenne pepper flakes. Cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste for addition of salt and pepper.

cook escarole while meat is in the oven

Serve each person a chop (serve 2 if it is for two people), a couple of onions, some rich flavorful broth, and a side of escarole. This can also be served with rice, pasta or crusty bread.

ready to serve

Costolette Maiale con Finocchietto (Pork Chops with Fennel) serves 6

Pork Chops with Fennel

This recipe was inspired by one of 3 cookbooks I bought in Florence at a little shop attached to an Olivetan monastery. It was a spectacular place situated on the highest point in the city. The monastery stood next to the oldest church in Florence; San Miniato al Monte

my new little cookbooks

It was quite a trek to the top, but the view was worth the leg pain.

the view!

The church (my favorite since the beginning of my Italian exploration)), and the view were unforgettable, but, the most memorable thing about the place was the graveyard. It was typically Italian in that it was full of family mausoleums’, and tightly packed gravestones, but it went on forever. Also, I had never experienced such monumental rivalry to have the most impressive final resting place!

The graveyard at San Miniato

I was moved by how the dead were remembered.

A eerie and sad remembrance of a young officer who died in the war and his bride who died a year later...

It was a very brisk and windy day, and I ducked into a tiny gift shop, the monks ran, in one of the out buildings. It was warm and cozy, and I quickly got lost in all the little trinkets and curiosities that were for sale. They produced their own jams, and honey, and made beautiful beeswax candles. They also had a large apothecary section filled with tinctures for curing all manner of ills. I wanted it all.

many more grave stones

I decided to be sensible and buy something that was neither breakable nor impractical. On a more hidden set of shelves I discovered some sweet little cookbooks. My friend Shawn said the covers looked like poetry books, and that increased their appeal tenfold. They were filled with very basic Tuscan recipes, and sprinkled throughout were little line drawings of Italian landscapes.

many beautiful Mausoleums

I picked out three and have been enjoying reading them these past few days. My son also perused the pages, and requested something that I had already marked as a potential dish to be made in the near future: Pork Chops with Wild Fennel.

San Miniato

We picked out some great looking chops from one of several butcher shops in town, and I adapted the recipe. I changed and added things as I went to suit our taste and needs, and turned out a splendid feast of a dinner.

I loved how the red wine permeated the onions, and the fennel seeds (not wild, I’m afraid), gave the chops a sweet liquorish-y taste.

Another lovely day in Italy

The food coming out of my new kitchen seems to be very influenced by what I can find locally, and everything tastes richer. It may be that I am seeing this new world through rose-colored glasses, but I’m telling you, my food tastes better!


Costolette Maiale con Finocchietto (Pork Chops with Fennel)

You will need: 6 pork chops (medium thickness), 3 medium onions, halved, then thinly sliced into ½ moons, 4 tbs extra-virgin olive oil, 14 oz can plum tomatoes, with their juices, 1 tbs tomato puree concentrate, ½ tbs fennel seeds, 1 ¼ cups red wine, 1 cup chicken broth, sea salt & freshly cracked black pepper to season meat, and to taste.

Preheat oven 375*

season chops with salt and pepper

1 –Season the chops with sea-salt and black pepper.

sear chops, transfer to pot, sprinkle with fennel seeds

 2 – Put sauté pan on med/high heat and add 2 tbs of oil.  Sear the chops in batches until they are lightly browned on both sides, adding more oil as needs be. Transfer to casserole or lidded pot as you go. Sprinkle the fennel seeds over the pork and set aside.

saute onions

3 – Turn heat down to medium/low and add sliced onions. Sauté for 8 to 10 minutes until they begin to soften.

add wine, and cook until absorbed

4 – Turn up heat and add the wine. Let it bubble and cook until the wine has evaporated and onions have absorbed the flavor (and the color!).

add tomatoes and broth

5 – Turn heat down to medium and add the tomatoes, their juices and chicken broth. Cook until mixture begins to bubble. Pour over the chops and cover with lid (or foil if you don’t have one) Transfer to oven for 45 minutes. Remove form oven and let the pot sit for 10 minutes before removing lid.

Pork Chops with Fennel

Serve as is, with crusty bread, or, with pasta (like above).

Thick-Cut Pork Chops With Rich Homey Sauce (serves 4)

 I was accosted by my daughter urging me to make dinner ASAP as she was “going through a growth spurt” and as a result, was starving earlier in the evening than usual. It was hard to think of what to make under such pressure? When I get hungry, I am transformed into a crazed lunatic, and I think my daughter has inherited this wonderful quality!

Thick-Cut Pork Chops with Rich Homey Sauce - yep, last night's dinner

She suggested pork, but that would mean running to the shop, which would make dinner late, and then I would have to deal with a very cranky, hungry 10-year-old. I was just about to give in to her request and zip to the chop shop, when I remembered I had bought 4 handsome pork chops the other day. I had forgotten all about them.

Dinner was thrown into the oven, quick smart, and a piece of buttered toast was enough to satisfy until dinner was ready.

The chops were tenderly delicious, and the sauce unctuous. This dinner could be put together by a child, so all you timid cooks head to the kitchen, and give this one a go. It will not disappoint.


You will Need: 4 thick-cut pork chops (1″), 4 tbs extra-virgin olive oil, 2 tsp cumin seeds, sea-salt, freshly cracked pepper, 1 cup baby carrots, 2 celery ribs, with leaves, sliced, 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped, 14 oz plum tomatoes, sliced (1 can), including juices, 4 thyme sprigs, 3 or 4 sage leaves, 2 tbs all-purpose flour, 1 1/4 cup white wine, 3 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth).

Preheat oven 400*

1 – Put your chops on a plate or board and pat them dry. Season each one with salt, pepper, and cumin seeds (1/2 tsp cumin per chop). Place big saute pan on high flame and add 2 tbs of oil. When it is hot, add the chops and sear on both sides until golden (you may need to add more oil when you turn the meat). Transfer to plate.

sear chops

2 – Turn heat down to medium/low and add 1 tbs of oil if needed. Saute the diced onions for 5 minutes.

saute onions

3 –  Add the celery and carrots and continue to cook for another 8 minutes. Add the fresh herbs and flour and cook for another minute or 2.

saute veggies

4 – Turn heat up to high and add the wine. Let it bubble and thicken, stirring continually for 2 or 3 minutes. Add the rest of the liquid (broth) and cook until it starts to simmer. Add the tomatoes and their juices and stir. Add the chops in an even layer and when liquid comes to a simmer, cover with lid and place in the oven for 1 hour.

add wine, then tomatoes & broth

6 – Test chops for tenderness by piercing with a knife. They should be extremely tender. Let everything rest for 5 or so minutes before serving.

oh my...

I served this dinner with plain basmati rice and it was perfect. It would also be good on its own, or, boiled baby potatoes.

Beautifully Barbecued Pork with Sensational Side-Dishes (serves 8)

This turned out to be another memorable evening. I just love having dinner with my friend Lisa. It feels like home.

On the grill is a lovely pork chop

We planned to have dinner, and then left it at that. The next day I had visions of beautiful pork cooked on the grill. Scott and Lisa are die-hard “grillers” who don coat, hat and gloves in freezing weather, just for the taste of grilled food. 

I called Lisa about possibly firing up the grill, and she told me in delighted tones about the beautiful new grill they sprung for. Scott had been salivating over a grill he had spotted in a shop during the summer, but, being the practical man he is, waited until the end of the season sale in hopes of getting a deal. Sure enough, he got his dream grill at a bargain price!

Pork Tenderloin grilled to perfection by Scott (possibly due to the fact that myself and Lisa hounded him every 5 minutes about not burning the meat.....or else!)

I was dying for that real barbecue flavor and so made a marinade that felt hefty and rich. I often use balsamic vinegar to achieve a somewhat grilled kind of taste from the oven, so I started there. I read the back of a barbecue sauce bottle at the supermarket and found out that tomato sauce seem to be a necessary ingredient. I then forgot all about that until I returned home with my bag of pork.

I decided to make do with ketchup, and it worked like a dream. My daughter saw me making the marinade and announced she would not eat her dinner if I used ketchup. The end of that story is of course that she ate her words along with the ketchup!

When I got to Lisa’s, the smell wafting from the kitchen gave me instant hunger pangs. The source of the smell was the big skillet of luscious sweet potatoes cooking in ungodly amounts of butter on her stove-top. She was all worried that it wasn’t turning out as good as she had hoped, and I silently dismissed her ravings knowing how she is a total perfectionist in all things. I have a knack for being friends with women who make me feel disorganised and flighty, (I suppose opposites attract).

A greedily packed plate

This was really fun for me because I got to hang out with Lisa, and take pictures of her frenetic movements in the kitchen, while also getting to follow the completely calm and cool Scott, to document the pork, and grilling side of things.

He let me order him around, telling him to turn this, and move that, without uttering a complaint or objection. I just love him for that!

He ended up grilling the best pork tenderloin I had ever tasted, and being the humble guy he is, gave all the credit to his fabulous new grill.

Dinner was out-of-this-world fantastic. My man Dave talked about how great the sweet potatoes were so much I wondered if I should be jealous. I loved last night, I love my friends and family so much, and I don’t care how corny it sounds to say that.


For pork & Marinade; You will need: 2 pork tenderloin (1 lb each approx), cut in half, 8 thin-cut bone-in pork chops, 3/4 cup ketchup, 1/3 cup good quality balsamic vinegar, juice of 2 oranges, leaves from 10 thyme sprigs, 5 cloves garlic, finely chopped, 2 tsp cumin seeds, 1 tbs honey, 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper.

1 – Prep all ingredients and whisk everything (except the meat) together in a bowl. Divide the meat between 3 zip top plastic bags and pour an even amount of the marinade into each bag, and seal. I used a measuring cup for the job. Place in the fridge for no less than 3 hours, and as long as 12 hours.

Marinate the pork in bags (this was my only contribution to dinner last night!)

2 – When it is time to cook the meat (about a 1/2 hour before ready to serve), turn the grill to about 325* to 350*. The tenderloin will cook in about 25 minutes and the thin-cut chop should be done in 12-15 minutes. You can baste with the marinade as you go.

grill pork

For the Sweet Potato Side-Dish; You will need: 10 large sweet potatoes, scrubbed & cut into large cubes, 1/2 cup craisins or dried cranberries, 1/4 cup chopped walnuts, 5 tbs unsalted butter, 2 tbs soft brown sugar, sea-salt & freshly ground pepper to taste.

Preheat oven 450*

1 – Put potatoes in pot and cover with cold water. Place on high heat and boil until they are cooked through (still a little toothsome). Drain into colander.

2 – Put big pan on medium heat (a pan which can be transferred to the oven), and add 3 tbs of the butter. Add the craisins and walnuts and saute for 2 or 3 minutes before adding the sweet potatoes. Continue to cook on stove-top adding more butter as needed (up to 2 tbs) for about 20 minutes.

saute the sweet potatoes in lots of butter

3 – Sprinkle with sugar, 1/2 tsp salt and several grinds of pepper, and mix gently. Place in oven for 10 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

The perfect sweetness for our pork. I cannot express how good these potatoes were!

For the Baby Pea and Spinach Side-Dish; you will need: 1/2 lb baby peas (Lisa used frozen), 5 scallions/green onions, sliced, including green parts, 6 cups fresh spinach leaves, 1/2 cup chicken broth, 2 tbs unsalted butter, sea-salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste.

1 – Put pot on medium heat and add butter. When it has melted, saute scallions for 5 minutes.

saute scallions

2 – Add frozen peas and wait for 2 minutes before adding broth. Bring to a simmer and cook for 3 minutes.

add peas

3 – Add spinach and let it wilt, (takes about 3 minutes to cook down). Add a sprinkle of sea-salt (Lisa used Maldon salt) and some freshly cracked pepper.

add spinach

The important thing about this meal is timing everything to be ready around the same time. So, marinate the meat first, next cook the potato dish, and lastly, grill the meat and cook the peas about a 1/2 hour before you want to eat.

Dive in!

Just when you think it will be an ordinary, run-of-the-mill dinner, something like last night happens. It was very difficult to carry on a conversation during this meal as I was way more interested in my plate of food than the company!

Grilled Pork Chops with Onions & Parslied Mash, Simmered Peas & Spinach (serves 6)

It was Friday night and I was so happy for the weekend. I had a craving for onions. My friend popped in my back door recently wooed by the scent of something that made her salivate; I was just cooking some onions as a base for a dish? What is it about the smell of cooking onions that makes everyone mad to eat something immediately?  She went on to tell me that she read in an old “How to be a good housewife” type book from the 1940’s or 50’s that one of the ways to make your man happy upon entered his castle after a long day at work was to have onions frying. Of course, a nice frilly apron and high heels didn’t hurt either!

A perfect dinner to kick-off the weekend!

To date, I haven’t met an onion I didn’t like. There are probably more ways to cook an onion than any other food in the world. I could happily explore that theory for the rest of my life. It is a very difficult decision for me to not put onions in one form or another into a dish. Why should I deprive myself of that pleasure? They can be anything from tangy, hot, sweet, sour, syrupy, crunchy, stingy, spicy, liquoricey, smokey… a never-ending list of mouth-watering tastes.

Last night I wanted the syrupy sweet kind. My recipe for the pork chop was completely inspired by a recipe from Ada Boni’s cookbook, Italian Regional Cooking in which she topped a grilled pork chop with a stewed 1/2 onion. I cooked the onion more like I would when starting a French onion soup, in half rings and cooked until caramelized, but other than that I used her method of finishing it off in a hot oven for 5 minutes. It was amazing.

I cooked the last of my potatoes and added some snipped fresh parsley from my garden. My oregano is growing like a weed and so I opted for simply cooked peas and spinach, but made it special with chopped fresh oregano. The whole dinner felt like we were dining is some fancy restaurant, yet it was quick and ridiculously economical.

This sort of dish gives you a good lesson in timing everything to be ready at the same time. Grab some onions and invite 6 people to your table some time this week. They will thank you forever after.


You will need: 3 big sweet onions, cut in half & sliced into 1/2 rings, 6 pork chops, bone-in, 5 tbs olive oil, 12 medium potatoes (2 per person), 2 tbs unsalted butter, 2 tbs freshly chopped parsley, 1 tsp coarse sea-salt, 1/2 cup whole milk or light cream, 1 1/2 cups baby peas, 6 cups fresh spinach leaves, 3/4 cup chicken broth, 1 tbs freshly chopped oregano leaves, 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper flakes, coarse salt & freshly ground black pepper.

Cook onions until very soft and sweet..

1 – Put saute pan on low/medium heat and add 4 tbs olive oil . Add onions with a sprinkle of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Cover and cook for 30 to 35 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn off and set aside.

Parslied Mash

2 – While onions are cooking, peel and rinse potatoes. Quarter them and put in saucepan and cover with cold water. Cover and cook on medium/high heat until nice and soft (test by sticking with sharp knife – should go through flesh very easily). Drain, and add 2 tbs butter and mash until very smooth. Add 1 tsp coarse salt, milk, freshly ground pepper and chopped parsley. Mix well with a wooden spoon. Cover with tea towel and set back on stove top to keep warm.

Season chops with coarse salt and fresh black pepper..

3 – Prep chops for grilling; Rub each chop with a little olive oil and lay on baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper.

Grill chops..

4 – About 15 minutes before serving dinner put oven rack very close to the broiler/grill and slide in sheet of pork chops. Grill on each side, checking after 4 or so minutes. Flip and season with salt and pepper and continue to grill until throughly cooked (my chops were on the thin side and took about 8 minutes total).

Cook for 5 minutes in the oven..

5 – Turn off grill/broiler and turn oven to 375*. About 5 minutes before serving lay chops into casserole in a single lay. Spoon a big mound of onions on top of each one and pour any juice for cooking the onions and from the baking sheet used to grill the chops over everything. Cook for 5 minutes and serve with rest of accompaniments.

Simmered peas & spinach..

6 – Cook spinach & peas while chops are in oven: Add the 3/4 cup chicken broth to pan and let it come to a simmer on the stove top. Add peas, oregano leaves, pepper flakes, and a sprinkle of coarse salt and some grinds of pepper. Simmer for 3 minutes before adding the spinach. Cook for a further 2 or so minutes until the spinach has wilted.

Pretty Delicious Dinner

 Put a pork chop on each warmed plate, a dollop of mash and a serving of vegetables. Spoon juices from casserole and pea dish over everything and serve.