~ Veal Loin Chops Braised in Tomato-Basil Sauce ~
In the Fall, I really enjoy the transition from food that gets cooked quickly on the grill outdoors to food that gets cooked slowly on the stovetop indoors. Whether I'm watching the leaves fall from the trees in the October sunshine, or puddles form on the driveway during a Fall rain, having a pot roast or some "chops" braising on the stove and my poodles napping at my feet is art to me. Norman Rockwell caliber art!
In short, braising is a method of cooking in which food (usually meat and/or vegetables) is first browned in some fat, then cooked, tightly covered, in some liquid over a low heat for a long period of time. The long, slow cooking time develops the flavors and tenderizes the food(s) by breaking down their fibers. Braising can be done completely on the stovetop or started on the stovetop (to brown the food) and finished in the oven. A pot or a pan with a tight-fitting lid is important, to keep the liquid from evaporating. In almost all cases, recipes that use braising as the cooking method, while time consuming, are extremely easy!
In the following recipe, I am using bone-in, veal loin chops (because I adore veal) that have been cut to a thickness of about 1 1/4"-1 1/2". This recipe works just as well with bone-in pork loin chops, so feel free to substitute them without hesitation or compromise. When my veal chops are browned, I add 3 quarts of ~ My Fresh & Spicy Tomato-Basil Sauce (Marinara) ~, recipe found in Categories 8 & 12, but feel free to add your favorite homemade or even store-bought sauce!
~ Step 1. I'm making 8 veal chops, but make 2, 4 or 6... the choice is yours. Just remember to scale back your pan size and the amount of sauce you add. Liberally season the top sides of the chops with freshly ground sea salt and peppercorn blend. Then sprinkle Wondra flour over the tops of chops. Allow the chops to rest, 15-20 minutes, to allow the flour to absorb moisture from the meat.
~ Step 2. Place 8 tablespoons of olive oil in a 14" chefs pan, or just enough oil to coat the bottom of whatever size pan you are using. Heat oil over medium-high heat. Place chops in the pan, FLOURED SIDE DOWN. Liberally season the second side of the chops with freshly ground sea salt, peppercorn blend and Wondra flour.
~ Step 3. Over, medium-high heat, saute the chops until they are golden brown on their first sides, about 20 minutes. Using a spatula (not a fork) flip the chops over and continue to saute until they are golden brown on their second sides, about 20 minutes. Time may vary... you want golden brown!
~ Step 4. At this point, I add 1/2 cup of Port wine and deglaze the pan, by using a spatula to scrape all of the browned bits loose from the bottom of the pan. Feel free to use any red wine that you like.
Cover the chops with 3-quarts of your favorite sauce and adjust heat to a very gentle, steady simmer. If you're using store-bought sauce, you might consider adding about 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes and some shredded fresh basil leaves, to add some spice and additional flavor and color to the sauce. Cover the pan and continue to simmer, 1 1/2-2 hours. The chops will be fall-off-the-bone, fork-tender. During the last 1/2 hour of braising the chops, cook your favorite pasta and grate some Parmigiano-Reggianno cheese for sprinkling over the top of both the sauced pasta and sauced chops. In Melanie's Kitchen, when I braise 8 chops, I cook 1 1/2-2 pounds of pasta!
Special Equipment List: 14" chef's pan w/straight, deep sides & lid; spatula
Cook's Note: Chops can be prepared 1-2 days in advance of serving and actually taste fantastic the next day (after having spent the night in my awesome tomato-basil sauce). Chops and sauce can be refrigerated in pan and reheated on stovetop or transferred to a 4-quart casserole dish, refrigerated and reheated in the microwave. The recipe for ~ My Fresh & Spicy Tomato-Basil Sauce (Marinara) ~, can be found in Categories 8 & 12.
"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti
(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2010)