Perfectly cooked sheet-pan pork chops
Versatile, simple, and oh-so delicious.
We've partnered with Food52, to highlight simple yet delicious recipes where the technique makes all the difference. Here, we're making perfectly cooked pork chops using one of our favorites: the sheet-pan method.
A triple threat—aka a miraculously talented being who can act, sing, and dance all extremely well—might be a rarity in show business, but it's even harder to come by in the world of recipes. Finding a dish that works for a weeknight dinner and dinner parties, is simple in both its technique and ingredients list, and actually tastes good is like finding my favorite brand of oat milk in stock at the grocery store: more thrilling than it probably should be, but thrilling nonetheless.
My list of these elusive dishes is, unsurprisingly, short: Martha Stewart's macaroni and cheese (I've never met anyone who isn't a fan); Marcella Hazan's famous tomato sauce; Nigella Lawson's genius chicken and peas traybake; and Emma Laperruque's five-ingredient lemon bars I can never eat just one of.
I don't add to the list often, but it should come as no surprise that Food52’s co-founder Amanda Hesser would have a recipe to make the cut: sheet-pan pork chops with caramelized fennel and garlic-lemon butter.
"It’s a great springtime dinner dish," says Amanda, "but also I think it has enough complexity and is beautiful enough to serve for a dinner party, or even for a crowd."
Learn how to make this recipe by watching this video.
Ultimate dinner versatility? Check.
As for its simplicity, well, this dish calls for just a handful of ingredients that aren't too difficult to come by. You can even swap in different vegetables if you can't find (or don't like) fennel. "You could totally do carrots," Amanda tells me. "You could also throw in some fresh peas. And if you wanted to make it a heartier dish you could add potatoes."
The sheet-pan method is also very straightforward, though Amanda points out there are a few tips you should keep in mind to make sure the whole thing comes out perfectly cooked. For starters, "don't overcrowd your sheet pan," she explains. If you do, the vegetables might get mushy—not crispy. The pork chops, though, you'll want to give a good sear in a cast-iron pan on high heat before you finish them off in the oven. That deep caramelization the cast iron gives the pork chops (or any meat really, Amanda adds) makes dirtying the extra dish well worth it.
And for the taste? Hmm, let's see. Thick pork chops with beautifully browned edges and tender meat? Oven-caramelized fennel with crispy edges? A garlicky, lemony butter sauce that makes the most of those browned bits stuck to the bottom of the cast iron? Yep, I'd say it checks alllll the deliciousness boxes.
As if that weren't enough, this recipe gets extra credit for its adaptability in the leftovers department. "I would thinly slice the pork or cut it into small cubes, and then I would pick arugula or some kind of spicy green base, and make a salad," says Amanda. Avocado and a creamy dressing would fit in nicely here, too. Those extra fennel fronds shouldn't go in the trash can, either. "They'd be great in a tuna salad or a chicken salad for your lunch," she adds; you might even use them to make a pesto or vegetable stock.
But while all these ideas sound great in theory, I'd be surprised if you end up with any leftovers at all. Because with a triple-threat recipe like this one, it's hard not to finish off the entire thing in one fell swoop.
About the Recipe:
This recipe uses a few simple ingredients to create a hearty and delicious main course. The ground fennel seeds and Espelette pepper pair perfectly together as a delightful seasoning, especially when the garlic-lemon butter is drizzled over the top of everything. —
Serves: 2 to 4 people
Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 1 hrs 10 min
- 2 bulbs fennel, with fronds still attached
- 1 drizzle olive oil
- 1 dash salt, plus more to taste
- 1 drizzle canola oil
- 2 thick-cut bone-in pork chops
- 1.5 teaspoons ground fennel seeds (freshly ground is best)
- ½ teaspoon Espelette pepper (or substitute chili powder)
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- Preheat the oven to 325°F. Trim off the fennel fronds and reserve them for later. Trim off and discard the root end of the fennel bulb. Remove and discard any outer layers of the fennel that are bruised or feel too rubbery. Cut the fennel bulb in half, through the core of the fennel, cutting parallel to the bulb's wider dimension. Cut each half into thirds, making sure that each piece includes some of the fennel's core (the core will hold the layers of the fennel together). Place the cut fennel on a rimmed baking sheet, and drizzle with enough olive oil to just coat the outsides. Season lightly with salt and bake for 45 minutes. Every fifteen minutes or so, flip and rotate the fennel pieces on the baking sheet.
- When the fennel has been cooking for 45 minutes, it's time to start cooking the pork chops. Leave the fennel in the oven cooking while you begin working on the pork chops. Season the pork chops with salt on both sides. Set a large skillet over high heat, and add just enough canola oil to cover the surface of the skillet. When the oil in the skillet just begins to smoke, add the pork chops. Let them cook, undisturbed, until the underside of each chop is nicely caramelized. You're aiming for a golden brown color.
- When you have nice color on one side of the pork chops, flip them and cook the other side until it looks equally golden brown. Remove the skillet from the heat and transfer the pork chops to the rimmed baking sheet in the oven with the fennel. Don't clean the skillet, you're about to use it to make garlic-lemon butter. Season the pork chops and the fennel with the ground fennel seeds and Espelette pepper. Remember to season both sides of the pork chops and fennel. You should season the pork more aggressively than you season the fennel. Cook the pork chops in the oven until the internal temperature of the pork chops is 145°. Start checking the temperature of the pork chops after about 5 minutes in the oven. Keep checking every 5 minutes until they are fully cooked.
- While the pork chops cook, remove any excess oil from the skillet. Add the butter and garlic to the skillet. Set the skillet over medium heat. Cook the garlic gently; you don't want it to burn. When the garlic just begins to start to brown, remove the skillet from the heat and add the lemon juice along with a pinch of salt. Use a wooden spoon to scrape up any caramelized bits from the bottom of the skillet. These caramelized bits will meld into the sauce and add flavor. Set the sauce aside.
- When the pork chops are fully cooked, let them rest for 3 minutes before serving. While the pork is resting, retrieve the fennel fronds that you reserved earlier, and pick a handful of the most tender fronds. Serve each pork chop along with some pieces of fennel, and spoon some sauce over the top of the pork and the fennel. Garnish with the fennel fronds. Enjoy.
We've partnered with Food52 to highlight one of our all-star dinner recipes: sheet-pan pork chops! The sheet-pan method is even simpler with Miele's M Touch Wall Oven and Wireless Precision Probe, which keeps a close eye on the meat's temperature to ensure even cooking, every single time.
Article by: Erin Alexander
Recipe by: Josh Cohen