Italian Pork

Pork Chops with Fennel and Caper Sauce

I just finished taking a test for my auditing class that I think went pretty well so I am relieved because I took a substantial study break to cook this yesterday. I have been pretty stressed and just consistently behind on school work lately, and my mom suggested that I should cut back on the amount of time that I devote to this blog. I suppose that I could do that, but cooking is genuinely the most enjoyable part of my week and the only break that I actually get from school. I almost think that it would be detrimental to my grades if I didn’t cook because I would just be miserable all the time. Now that I have succeeded in convincing myself that food is more important than school, let’s get on with the recipe!

This recipe really appealed to me immediately because it looked absolutely gorgeous in the photo (it’s a Giada recipe from foodnetwork.com). My pictures do not do it justice, but you can definitely see that there are some really beautiful colours in this dish. I am a sucker for colourful foods. I am also a really big fan of capers so I’ll try anything that has capers in the title. There’s just something about that pickled/olivey taste that I really love, and I think that they are a really good way to enhance the flavour of a sauce without being too overpowering. I didn’t really read the recipe well before I went grocery shopping so I bought the thin-cut boneless pork chops that I always buy (they are really cheap) instead of the 2″-thick ones that the recipe calls for. I adjusted the cooking time accordingly, but I still ended up overcooking them so I would suggest investing in the thicker pork chops to avoid that. It wasn’t really a big deal though because the sauce is really what makes this recipe so good. I enjoyed eating the vegetables and sauce without the meat, which is unheard of for me since I hate vegetables.

I have never had fennel before so that was a little bit foreign to me. When I checked out at the grocery store, the cashier and the guy who was bagging had a good laugh about the fennel and how they had no idea what it was. It is a ridiculous-looking vegetable, and it is a little bit expensive, unfortunately. I had to look up how to work with it. If you are unfamiliar with fennel like me then I would suggest just googling how to slice it because there are all sorts of videos. Don’t let the price deter you (it cost about 4 bucks for one) because I ended up really loving it. It might just be my favourite vegetable/herb right now (all of the definitions I looked up said that it is both a vegetable and an herb).
Pork Chops with Fennel and Caper Sauce
1/4 cup olive oil
4 boneless (2″-thick) pork chops (2 lbs total)
3/4 tsp salt, plus more for seasoning meat
3/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning meat
2 fennel bulbs, thinly sliced (keep the fronds for garnish later)
2 large shallots, thinly sliced
1/3 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plust 1/3 cup
1/2 cup white wine (I used Vermouth)
1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes, with their juices
1/2 lemon, zested
2 Tbsp capers

In a large, heavy skillet heat the olive oil over high heat. Season the pork chops with salt and pepper. Add the pork to the pan and brown on both sides, about 4 minutes each side. Remove the pork from the pan, cover loosely with foil, and set aside.
Add the fennel, shallots, and 1/3 cup parsley to the pan and cook over medium heat until beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. The photo below just shows how I like to divide up the chopped ingredients that will be cooked together before I start cooking so I don’t have as much multitasking to do.
Add the win. Using a wooden spoon, scrape the brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Add the tomatoes and stir.
Add the pork back into the pan, nestling the chops between the fennel and tomatoes so they are mostly submerged in the pan juices. Cook until the fennel is tender and the pork is done, about 12 to 15 minutes.

Place the pork on a serving dish. To finisht he sauce, add the lemon zest, remaining 1/3 cup parsley, capers, and 3/4 tsp each salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Spoon over the pork chops and serve immediately. A lot of the commenters on the recipe suggested serving it with orzo.

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