Pan-Seared Pork Chops With Cider Sauce

11/02/2011 02:03 pm ET | Updated Aug 31, 2012

In the Pantry Challenge video series, Lauren Braun Costello, a chef, author and food stylist, shows busy moms how to make wholesome meals using ingredients they already have in their pantries, solving their unique cooking challenges. In this episode, Lauren shows Jennifer C., a busy mother of two and P.R. professional, how to prepare pork chops -- a dish her husband loves -- in new way. Using cider vinegar, Lauren makes a pan sauce that infuses the chops with both sour and sweet flavors. And the best part? This dish takes only 15 minutes to make.

To start this dish off, Lauren seasons her pork chops with salt and black pepper. She then pre-heats a sauté pan (so that the oil won't burn and smoke while it's heating), and once it's sufficiently warmed, adds the oil, followed by pork chops. To give the meat a nice crust, Lauren sears the chops for three to four minutes on each side; she also warns against crowding the pan -- this will steam the chops instead of searing them. Once each side has substantial color, Lauren turns the one-inch chops on their edges and sears each end for about 30 to 40 seconds. This browns the edges and renders the extra fat, which will add substantial flavor to the sauce. She then removes the chops from the pan to start on her sauce.

Lauren adds butter, minced shallots and sprigs of thyme to the pan, and lets the mixture cook until the shallots are soft. She notes that shallots add a great sweet, mild flavor to all sorts of pan sauces. Once the shallots have absorbed the sauce that had collected on the bottom of the pan, Lauren adds the cider vinegar and deglazes the pan. She then adds apple cider and chicken stock, brings the sauce to a simmer, and lets it reduce by half. To rewarm the pork chops (which have been off the heat for about 10 minutes), Lauren adds them back to the pan (including any juices that have settled on the plate). She heats them for a minute on each side, removes them from the pan, and then turns off the heat. To thicken the sauce, Lauren adds some cold butter (it's important that the butter is cold so the sauce will emulsify -- this is the process by which two normally unmixable liquids, such as water and oil, are combined) and stirs until it melts completely. This will give the sauce a "good, velvety mouth feel," Lauren says. She adds the chops to the pan one more time, and then plates the meat, garnishing each chop with sprigs of thyme and a heaping ladle full of sauce.

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