We are three sisters united in our search for the divine - in food, libation, literature, art, and nature. This blog will capture the true, sometimes decadent, at times humorous, and every so often transcendent adventures of the Salvation Sisters.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Sear-Roasted Pork Chops with Marsala Cream Sauce

by Michelle

   My husband is not a big pork lover, so when he recently left home for a few days to attend a seminar, our daughter, Maddie excitedly requested I make her favorite pork chop recipe that we learned to prepare from Auntie Linda. I'm sure everyone has a similar story, a special dinner reserved when one parent is out of town. It might even be a frozen dinner. I remember enjoying Marie Calendar's chicken pot pie when I was a kid and frozen dinners were strictly a no-no if dad was at the table. 
   My husband fondly recalls when his dad was away from home, he and his two brothers would look forward to their mother whipping-up Beef Roll-Ups, a tasty combination of thinly pounded steak filled with simple bread stuffing and smothered in a tomato infused gravy. This sounds like a meal that Jay's dad would adore, so no one quite knows why this particular entrée was on the naughty list.  
   I like pretty much anything doused with sauce. My maiden surname is French afterall; it is in the gene pool. And the marsala sauce couldn't be easier: one cup of marsala wine with one-third cup heavy cream. The sauce is reduced in the oven while the pork continues to cook.
   This recipe is so simple that a novice cook could feel rather confident preparing it. We love to serve the pork chops with mashed potatoes, the better for drizzling more marsala cream sauce. And you'll want more sauce; trust me. You may substitute boneless pork chops, but the bone-in chops have more flavor.
   While this time I chose to make mashed potatoes to serve with the pork chops, I also like, and perhaps even prefer Milanese Mushroom-Saffron Risotto. Since I had two cooked sides, Sautéed and Caramelized Mushrooms, and Sautéed Spinach with Garlic, Shallots, and Lemon Juice, I preferred to have an uncooked veg in the form of Grape Tomato Halves Tossed with Balsamic Syrup Vinaigrette lending a touch of brightness to the meal.

Sear-Roasted Pork Chops with Marsala Cream Sauce

  If you do not have a large skillet to brown 4 pork chops at the same time without over crowding the pan, simply brown the pork chops in two batches. Or, you can do what I like to do, and work dualing skillets if your oven is large enough to accomodate both pans. The pork should sit in the brine (in the refrigerator) for a good 6 to 8 hours, so plan accordingly. Please don't skip this step, it makes all the difference in the world in terms of flavor.

3 or 4 bone-in center cut pork chops, 1-1/2 to 2 inches thick
2 to 3 Tbsps high-heat frying fat (avoid olive oil), such as:
  • ghee (clarified butter)
  • rendered bacon fat
  • Spectrum® Organic Non-Hydrogenated All Vegetable Shortening
For the brine:
2 quarts water
1/4 cup kosher salt, preferably Diamond®
1/4 cup granulated sugar

For the flour mixture:
3/4 cup rice flour (for gluten-free) or all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp Old Bay Seasoning
1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Add-ins, per skillet (if using more than one):
1 cup marsala
1/3 cup heavy cream

Special Equipment:
6-quart Cambro with matching lid to brine pork (saves the world from one more dirty 1-gallon plastic bag clogging a landfill)
one or two large stainless steel sauté pan(s) (with handle that can withstand a hot oven) or cast iron skillet or commercial grade non-stick skillet

1. Brine the pork chops: In a 6-quart cambro (or similar container), whisk together the water, sugar and salt until dissolved. Place the pork chops in the brine solution and allow to sit for 4 to 6 hours in the refrigerator. The chops should be completely submerged in the brine solution. Add a little more water to cover, if necessary.

2. To cook the pork chops: Preheat oven to 400°F. Remove the pork from the refrigerator (and the brine) 30 minutes to an hour before cooking. Blot dry each pork chop. On a plate or in a bowl, combine the rice flour or all-purpose flour, Old Bay Seasoning and Italian seasoning. Sprinkle each pork chop with a little sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, then dredge the chops in the flour mixture.

3. In an iron skillet, heat high-heat frying oil of your choice over medium-high until hot. Carefully add the pork chops (to avoid hot oil splatters to the pan. Do not over crowd the pan - fry in a couple of batches, if necessary. Do not move pork chops to ensure proper browning. After about 3 to 4 minutes minutes the chop should be well browned. Flip the chops and brown the other side for a little less time, 2 to 3 minutes (it will take less time to brown the second side).

5. Add the marsala to the pan, all at once. The wine will immediately boil around the pork chops. Add the cream and gently swirl to combine. Transfer the pan(s) to the preheated oven and cook until the pork is cooked through, about 10 minutes, depending upon the thickness of the chops and the actual heat of your oven. The pork should be cooked to a temperature of 150°F. Remove from oven; let sit 5 minutes.
6. Transfer pork to individual plates. Spoon some of the sauce over each portion, placing the remaining sauce in a bowl to pass at the table. I like this article on the Fine Cooking website detailing the pan-searing technique.

Grape Tomato Halves Tossed with Balsamic Syrup Vinaigrette


  1. This is great, I have made a shopping list after reading this post. I will head to Whole Foods soon to get all of the ingredients. Thank you for inspiration. I love reading your posts and recipes.

    1. Thank you so much for reading! And, I might add, that I am so glad that you are going to support the company that has employed me for 13 years. Check out this link… http://www.wholeplanetfoundation.org. I think you will be glad that your $$$s are being spent there.

  2. Yes, I'm aware of the foundation. Whole Foods is the only grocer I shop at. They have great variety of organics, non-gmo, grass fed meats and wild fish. Can't beat it. I live about 3 minutes from one :-)


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