Pork chops can be difficult to cook on the stovetop as they dry out quickly and are easily overcooked. Bone-in chops can also be tricky to prepare because when most of the meat is done, the portion next to the bone often isn’t cooked enough.
That’s why sous vide’s even cooking is perfect for pork chops. Another plus we discovered when we were developing this recipe, is that the size of the chops isn’t critical when cooking sous vide. We worked with several weights — from the packaged variety that top out at just a little over a quarter-pound each to some huge chops that weighed in at closer to a half-pound each. Both types worked well, requiring virtually no adjustment to temperature or time in the water bath. We did adjust the serving size, though; we prefer to offer two of the smaller chops per person.
We browned the pork and then made a little sauce with ruby port, garlic, shallots, and habañero chiles before we bagged them. We love spicy food and we really love chiles, so this sauce is pretty hot. If you’d like to tone it down, reduce the amount of chile or substitute a milder variety such as jalapeños for the habañeros.
After the pork and the sauce were cooked, we strained the sauce, added a splash of sherry vinegar to brighten it, then thickened it with a beurre manie. The beurre manie also added richness. The final result was a juicy, perfectly cooked pork chop with a spicy yet elegant sauce.
- Preheat the water bath to 132°F (56°C) for medium-rare chops or 140°F (60°C) for medium chops.
- Season the pork with salt. Heat about 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the chops and brown on both sides, about 1 minute per side. When browned, transfer the chops to a plate. Pour off most of the oil remaining in the pan, leaving a thin film of fat.
- Add the shallot, chile, and garlic to the pan and sauté until just softened, about 1 to 2 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the port, scraping up any brown bits in the bottom of the pan, and add pepper to taste. Simmer the port mixture until reduced by half, about 3 to 5 minutes.
- Divide the pork chops and the port sauce equally between 2 zip lock food bags and seal using the water displacement method.
- Cook for 6 hours.
- Remove the meat from the bags. Strain the sauce into a shallow pan large enough to hold the chops.
- Reheat the sauce over medium heat and stir in the sherry vinegar. Quickly prepare the beurre manie by kneading together the butter and flour until the flour is completely incorporated. Add the beurre manie to the sauce in pieces, whisking after each addition to allow the butter to melt and to prevent lumps from forming.
- When the beurre manie is completely incorporated and the sauce has thickened slightly, taste to check the spices and the balance of the vinegar and adjust as necessary. Add the pork chops to the sauce just long enough to warm them and serve.