Oregano Pork Chops With Zucchini & Caramelized Onions

Oregano Pork Chops With Zucchini & Caramelized Onions

Sticktoitiveness: noun. The quality of persisting at something; tenacity.

I had the best fourth-grade teacher. The first time I heard her use this word is also my first memory of someone using a word other than “stubborn” to describe my unwillingness to give up; she made it into a compliment. I also loved her for incorporating song into nearly every day’s lesson plan and for modeling how a woman can be professional, competent, smart, fun, and caring all at the same time. Not that there was any shortage of such women in my life — I’m my mother’s daughter, after all. My mother wasn’t too thrilled that Miss Dancy also taught me how to whistle, though. Loudly. Not the carrying a tune kind, the kind that hollers, “Hey, you!” and is still, to this day, how “Dinner’s ready!” is announced at my house. (Mind you, I had to wait till I grew up and had my own house. No way my mom would’ve gone for that.)

The first incarnation of this dish has to be at least ten years ago. I saw a recipe in the newspaper or a magazine way back when both were actually paper. I jotted some notes, tweaked, tried again. All my notes on many trials can be summed up as, “meh.” I don’t know why I was so convinced it was worth pursuing, but doggone it, I wasn’t going to give up! Two or three times a year, I’d dust off my notes and try again. I’m thrilled with the outcome! This isn’t my quickest recipe, not by a long shot, but it’s well worth the extra time to properly caramelize the onions. They don’t need continuous monitoring, just a quick stir every so often. I don’t think I’d leave the room, but neither do I stand over them. Yes, you can brown onions a heck of a lot faster than this. But no, browned onions are not the same as caramelized! It may seem like a subtle distinction, but trust me: Taking the time to cook them low and slow completely changes the flavor in quite a wonderful way. You’ll be glad you did. This is also a great recipe for folks who think they don’t like zucchini; it soaks up the flavors of the rest of the dish and adds a slight crunch to complement the soft onions. 

I’m so glad I figured this one out earlier this summer. It was right at the head of the queue, nearly ready to publish, and perfect timing. I’m going to need all the sticktoitiveness I can muster for my next round of physical therapy! 

Ingredients:

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2 well-marbled pork chops, about a pound (454 g) altogether

¼ tsp kosher salt (Use Penzeys or Diamond Crystal. Morton has different measurements.)

¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon dried oregano

⅛ teaspoon anise seed

a pinch of saffron (about 20 threads)

20 oz. (579 g) onions, about 2 to 3 medium

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

3 large garlic cloves, minced

Juice of 1 lemon, about 3 tablespoons

1 medium to large zucchini, about 5 oz./145 g

water as needed

Preparation:

1.) Sprinkle the chops on both sides with the salt & pepper. Set aside. Grind the anise with a mortar & pestle; stir in the saffron and oregano and grind to mix. (I took the pic before grinding the saffron so you can see about how much I used.) Set aside.

2.) Cut the onions in half lengthwise, then cut ⅛” (3 mm) slices crosswise.

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Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet or sauté pan over medium to medium-high heat. Once the oil is shimmering, add the onions. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes to an hour. Don’t give in to the temptation to rush this by cranking up the heat. You get the best results from low, slow cooking.

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First, the onions will soften, and you’ll see the beginnings of some browning.

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Add a tablespoon of water as needed if they start to stick to the pan too much. These are a light, golden brown. Pretty, but not there yet…

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When they’ve shrunk way down and are a deep, golden brown, they’re done. Transfer the onions to a bowl and keep warm.

 

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 3.) Add another 2 teaspoons of the oil to the pan and turn the heat up to medium-high. Once the oil is hot, add the pork chops. Sear on both sides without cooking through. 

 

4.) Towards the end of searing, turn the burner back down to medium-low. Add the last teaspoon of the olive oil to a small area at the edge of the pan. Spread the minced garlic over the oil puddle and warm for about 30 seconds or until fragrant.

5.) Pour in the lemon juice and enough water to deglaze the pan; stir in the seasonings. Cover and adjust burner heat to provide a steady simmer. Cook until chops are done, about 10 minutes. (Remember, a little pink in the center of pork is good! It’s no longer necessary to cook pork into shoe leather, thank goodness.)

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6.) While the chops cook, cut the zucchini in half lengthwise and then into ⅛” (3 mm) slices crosswise. When the chops are done, remove them from the pan. Add the zucchini slices to the pan, stirring to coat.

7.) Cook very briefly, just until the zucchini begins to soften. Stir in the caramelized onions and serve with the chops.

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Oregano Pork Chops With Zucchini & Caramelized Onions

  • Servings: 2
  • Print

Ingredients

2 well-marbled pork chops, about a pound (454 g) altogether

¼ tsp kosher salt

¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon dried oregano

⅛ teaspoon anise seed

a pinch of saffron (about 20 threads)

20 oz. (579 g) onions, about 2 to 3 medium

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

3 large garlic cloves, minced

Juice of 1 lemon, about 3 tablespoons

1 medium to large zucchini, about 5 oz./145 g

water as needed

Directions

1.) Sprinkle the chops on both sides with the salt & pepper. Set aside. Grind the anise with a mortar & pestle; stir in the saffron and oregano and grind to mix. Set aside.

2.) Cut the onions in half lengthwise, then cut ⅛” (3 mm) slices crosswise.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet or sauté pan over medium to medium-high heat. Once the oil is shimmering, add the onions.

Cook, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes to an hour. Don’t give in to the temptation to rush this by cranking up the heat. You get the best results from low, slow cooking.

First, the onions will soften, and you’ll see the beginnings of some browning.

Then they’ll be a light, golden brown. Add a tablespoon of water as needed if they start to stick to the pan too much.

When they’ve shrunk way down and are a deep, golden brown, they’re done. Transfer the onions to a bowl and keep warm.

3.) Add another 2 teaspoons of the oil to the pan and turn the heat up to medium-high. Once the oil is hot, add the pork chops. Sear on both sides without cooking through.

4.) Towards the end of searing, turn the burner back down to medium-low. Add the last teaspoon of the olive oil to a small area at the edge of the pan. Spread the minced garlic over the oil puddle and warm for about 30 seconds or until fragrant.

5.) Pour in the lemon juice and enough water to deglaze the pan; stir in the seasonings. Cover and adjust burner heat to provide a steady simmer. Cook until chops are done, about 10 minutes. (Remember, a little pink in the center of pork is good! It’s no longer necessary to cook pork into shoe leather, thank goodness.)

6.) While the chops cook, cut the zucchini in half lengthwise and then into ⅛” (3 mm) slices crosswise. When the chops are done, remove them from the pan. Add the zucchini slices to the pan, stirring to coat.

7.) Cook very briefly, just until the zucchini begins to soften. Stir in the caramelized onions; serve with the chops.

 

2 Comments Add yours

    1. julie says:

      Thanks, Jennifer!

      Liked by 1 person

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