Monday, March 5, 2012

Pork Chops Pizzaiola

I posted about this favorite Sunday supper dish some time last summer, but since I cooked up a batch last night for dinner and I didn't have the step by step photos to go with the previous post, I thought I'd share it again. (I also realized that we have a lot of new subscribers joining us here on GATAB, who weren't around when I posted it the first time! So here we go!

The ingredients for this dish are pretty much basic pantry staples in our house and it's not at all difficult to make, so I don't know why I don't make it more often. It also happens to be one of Hubby's all time favorite meals, so I guess I tend to save it for special occasions, like his birthday or Father's Day. This time, I made it just because it had been on my mind a whole bunch and was becoming a distraction!

Pork Chops Pizzaiola
  • 4-6 Bone-in Center Cut Pork Chops
  • 1 28oz Can Crushed Tomatoes
  • 1 14oz Can Diced Tomatoes
  • 1 Lg Onion, sliced
  • 1 Lg Green Bell Pepper
  • 1 Lg Red Bell Pepper
  • 6-8 ounces Button or Crimini Mushrooms, quartered
  • 2 Cups Shredded Cheese ~ Mozzarella, Fontina, Parm, etc.
  • 2 Med Cloves Garlic, finely minced or crushed
  • Olive Oil, Butter, Salt & Pepper
  • Pasta of your choice
You can use just one type of bell pepper or leave the mushrooms out if you prefer, but I had some really nice peppers and plump button mushrooms on hand, so I decided to include them.

I use both butter and a good olive oil when I cook because the butter alone burns too quickly and the oil has a higher smoking point. Adding the oil also adds more flavor of it's own and if you like using infused oils, such as garlic oil, you can do that as well.

Tip: Do you ever wonder why it is that you can't quite seem to get that restaurant recipe you're trying to duplicate just right?- kind of like something is missing? It could be about how often you season food as you cook it. Seasoning each "layer" of a recipe with salt and pepper can go a long way toward bringing out the full flavors of the individual ingredients. You don't need too much - just a pinch of salt and pepper as you add ingredients will do. It's surprising what a difference it makes.

Pre-heat a large skillet and cook the chops over medium to medium high heat, turning them occasionally, until they are nicely browned and cooked through. (about 5 to 7 minutes per side total, depending on thickness - you can test them by carefully piercing the center of your thickest chop with the tip of a sharp paring knife - if the juices that run out are clear with no pink, they're done) 

Remove the chops from the pan and set them aside, covering them with a little foil to keep them warm.

Note: I decided to experiment this time and do mine in my oven using a feature called "convect roast", so I apologize for not having a photo for this step. I doubt that I'll be doing that again, because I felt like this method left the dish lacking a little somthin' somethin'. I'm pretty sure it was the flavor from the drippings/fond that you would normally get when you pan-fry or saute' them on the stove top.

I like my peppers and onions sliced in thick-ish strips, but I quarter the mushrooms so that they keep their texture a bit more. I also chop the garlic pretty finely or if I'm feeling particularly lazy, I'll use a garlic press.

Add the peppers and onions first and "sweat" them for a few minutes. You don't want them to brown much. You want them slightly softened with maybe a light golden color.  I add the mushrooms and garlic in at a bit later 1) because I don't want the garlic to burn and 2) because I don't want the mushrooms to disappear in the finished dish.

Then, add the tomatoes. I use 1 large can of crushed and one small can of petite diced. I like the texture that the diced tomatoes add. They will break down a bit as they simmer but not completely. I usually let the sauce simmer at this point for about 20 minutes, so that all of the flavors can "marry" and the sauce can thicken slightly.

After the sauce has simmered for a while, I place the chops into the pan and spoon some sauce over the top of each one. I let this simmer for another 8-10 minutes - at most. If you plan to eat them immediately and let them simmer too much longer they can easily get tough.

That being said, if you wanted to do this earlier in the day, you could cook them in the sauce for an hour or more and they'd become very tender. With meats like pork and less expensive cuts of beef, there's a mid-point where they can end up being so tough that you need to cut them with a hacksaw. Simmering them in a sauce or stock for a longer period of time (braising) will break down the meat's fibers to the point where it will fall right off the bone. The science of cooking is an odd one, but it's one of the few sciences that I've ever been relatively good at. ;~)

This last 10 minutes of cooking is a good time to add your favorite pasta to a pot of boiling, liberally salted water. I like to use a thicker cut, heartier pasta when making it as a side for main dishes like this. With Pizzaiola it's almost always Rigatoni - which also happens to be my favorite pasta. Ever.

Thicker pastas stand up to the bold flavors of the meat and sauce and don't get lost in the overall dish. Now... I have been told that the sauce is delicious over rice as well, but I think my hubbs, who is not a big fan of rice, would ixnay athay right out of the gate. Ha!

A note on cooking pasta.  When using dried pastas, do try to follow the package directions as far as timing goes. Over-cooking pasta brings out too much starch and makes it gummy. You should also never rinse pasta that is being served hot, because you want a bit of that starch left on the surface, to help sauces cling to it better. In some cases, you need it to help slightly thicken a very thin sauce that's made from a broth or stock. (ie. white clam sauce)If you aren't using all of the pasta immediately, you can drizzle a bit of light olive oil over top and give it a little toss to keep it from sticking together.

If you're going to cook and serve your chops right away, sprinkle your favorite cheese (I used shredded mozzarella) over the top and cover the pan for a minute or two, to allow the cheese to melt. If it's going to simmer (or braise) for a while, like I mentioned up above, wait until the last four or five minutes before serving to add it.

And here's your finished Pork Chops Pizzaiola with Rigatoni! Throw a tossed green salad together and slice up some crusty Italian or French bread and you're good to go!

Wow! My Clubhouse Chicken was featured this week at Thriving On Thursdays, hosted by the very lovely Anne at Domesblissity!  Thanks so much to everyone who came by and checked it out!

Chicken, Bacon, Cheddar Cheese. All in a really rich and savory Tomato Sauce!

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  1. What a delicious dinner! Thanks for sharing!

  2. This looks divine! I'd love for you to share the recipe at Mix it up Monday:

    I hope to see you soon:)

  3. This looks so good! Im a new email subscriber and enjoying going thru your blog.
    Great photos!

  4. Carolyn: Thanks for the follow and the lovely thought. Glad you liked it!

    Lisa: I'm all linked up! Thanks so much for the invitation to your wonderful party!

    Melissa: Thanks so much for subscribing! I hope you enjoy anything that you try! The photos are a work in progress, but I really enjoy taking them and I'm learning more all the time.

  5. Looks so yummy,Thanks for sharing at Creative Mondays :)

  6. I never think of pork chops for an Italian dish. Thanks for the recipe!

  7. This sure looks yummy. Thanks for joining Wow and following you back.

  8. Oh,can I come eat pork chops at your house? :-)
    Dorothy and Wilma

  9. Mary, this looks absolutely amazing. You make me think I can be a better cook :) Thanks so much for linking up to Toot Your Horn Tuesday. I love seeing your recipes every week!!!

  10. We had this delicious dish for dinner tonight.

    It was out of this world and a definite keeper.

    So glad I found your yesterday morning.


  11. Hi Mary,
    We just love Pork Chops and this meal would just be awesome. Your recipe is just packed with flavor and I can't wait to try it! Hope you are having a great week end and thank you so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday.
    Happy St. Patrick's Day and Come Back Soon!
    Miz Helen

  12. Thanks for sharing another winning recipe with us at Inspire Me Monday at Create With Joy! I asked my husband to pick this week's recipe features and yours was at the top of his list - Congrats!

    I hope you have something yummy to share again this week! :-)

    Create With Joy

  13. This is a new dish for me...I've not seen pork and pasta but it sure looks good! Your pictures are great too! Thanks for sharing at the Rock 'N Share!

  14. That looks seriously amazing! I will be making this for my family for sure!

    found you via Create With Joy!!! =)

  15. Congratulations!
    Your recipe is featured on Full Plate Thursday this week. Hope you have a great St. Patrick's Day week end and enjoy your new Red Plate.
    Come Back Soon!
    Miz Helen

  16. Holy cow, this sounds good!!! I mean REALLY good!!!!! This sounds so good I am not sure I'm going to be able to stand it until I can get some actually in my mouth!!!! Please, please, please may I pin this to my "Food, Glorious Food!" part of my Pinterest??? I want to be able to make this when I buy some pork chops. Since I'm one of those weird wackadoodle goofballs who waits until practically everything is on sale before she buys it, it could be awhile. Pinning it helps me to be able to refer back to it instantaneously. Please drop me a yea or nay at Thanks, Mary!


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