Today’s pork chops, which have very little fat and very little flavor, are the perfect vehicle for a good pan sauce.
This sauce is built from the concentrated bits of juice left in the bottom of a skillet after you’ve seared a protein.
Transforming those flavorful little nuggets into a sauce requires nothing more intricate than dissolving them with the aid of a liquid, usually wine and stock, and adding some extra flavor, often in the form of sauteed shallots or onions.
This template works not just for pork, but for all thin cuts of chicken, lamb, veal and beef. Still, you’re going to want to thicken this sauce.
What to do? Coat the chops with flour, preferably Wondra, an instant flour that Granny used to use. It will not only thicken the sauce, but keep the meat from drying out as it provides a crisper crust than regular all-purpose flour.
The big flavor in this sauce comes from the grapes and the mustard.
I never knew how “grapey” a grape could be until I first made sole Veronique — sole served in a cream sauce with peeled green grapes. But you can skip the pesky peeling part.
Grapes are also a terrific source of resveratrol, the powerful antioxidant found in wine.
So, in one quick, economical and widely adaptable recipe you get big flavor, good health and a pan gravy.
Sara Moulton stars in public television’s “Sara’s Weeknight Meals.” Sauteed Pork Chops and Grapes With Mustard Sauce Serves 4.
3Four 1/2-inch-thick boneless pork chops (about 1 lb. total), trimmed of any fat
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
Wondra flour, for dredging the pork chops
11/2 tbls. vegetable oil, divided
1/4 cup finely chopped yellow onion
1 cup seedless red or green grapes, halved
1/4 cup dry white wine
3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 tsp. packed dark brown sugar
1 tbl. Dijon mustard
1. Season the pork chops on both sides with salt and pepper. One at a time, dip them in flour, coating well on both sides. Shake off excess.
2. In a large skillet over medium-high, heat 1 tablespoon of oil. Add the chops to the pan and cook until lightly browned on the first side, about 2 minutes. Add the remaining oil to the skillet, turn the chops and cook for 1 minute on second side. Transfer to a plate and cover loosely with foil.
3. Add onion and grapes to the skillet, reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring often, until the onions are golden brown, about 3 to 4 minutes. Increase heat to high, add wine and bring to a boil. Simmer, stirring, until wine is reduced to 1 tablespoon. Add stock and sugar and simmer until broth is reduced by half.
4. Reduce heat to medium-low, return chops to skillet, along with any juices that have accumulated on the plate, and simmer very gently, turning the pork several times, for 1 minute. Transfer each pork chop to a serving plate. Add mustard to the sauce, whisking, then season with salt and pepper. Pour sauce evenly over each portion and serve right away.
Nutrition information per serving: 280 calories (100 calories from fat — 36 percent of total calories); 11 grams fat (2 grams saturated; 0 gram trans fats); 65 mg cholesterol; 17 grams carbohydrate; 1 gram fiber; 8 grams sugar; 26 grams protein; 660 mg sodium.