Sear-roasting is a restaurant technique you can easily to do at home. For the best sear, you’ll need to get your pan extremely hot first. Then, once you add the pork to the pan, no fiddling! You’ll be rewarded for your patience when the pork takes on a rich, browned crust. After browning, the pork heads into the oven where it finishes cooking. Be sure that the oven has reached 425°F before starting to sear—most ovens take 20 to 30 minutes to heat up thoroughly.
For the Pork:
Heat the oven to 425°F. Turn the exhaust fan on to high. Pat the pork chops with paper towels. Season both sides generously with salt and pepper (about 1 tsp. of each total). Heat a 12-inch heavy-based ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat until a droplet of water vaporizes in 1 or 2 seconds, about 1 min. (If the water skitters around the pan and doesn’t evaporate, the pan is too hot; take it off the heat for about 30 seconds to cool.)
Add the oil, swirl it around the pan, and then evenly space the pork chops in the pan. Cook without touching for 2 minutes. Using tongs, lift a corner of the pork, check that it’s both well browned and easily releases from the pan, and flip it over. (If it sticks or isn’t well browned, cook for 1 to 2 more min. before flipping.) Cook the second side for 1 minute and then transfer the skillet to the oven.
Roast until the pork reaches an internal temperature of 145°F and is just firm to the touch, about 5 to 8 minutes. Using potholders, carefully remove the pan from the oven, transfer the pork to a large plate, tent with foil, and let it rest while you prepare the sauce in the same skillet.
For the Balsamic-Fig Sauce:
Pour off any excess fat from the skillet. Return the pan to high heat and add the chicken broth and balsamic vinegar. Cook, scraping the pan with a wooden spoon to incorporate any browned bits, until the broth is reduced to about 1/2 cup, about 5 min. Stir in the figs, honey, and thyme and cook until the sauce is reduced by another 1 to 2 Tbs., about 1 min. Add the butter and swirl it into the sauce until it’s completely melted. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle the sauce over the pork chops and serve immediately.
Wine Choices: The sweet fruit elements and intense flavors in the sauce call for a wine with really ripe fruit, like Zinfandel or Shiraz.
nutrition information (per serving):
based on four servings;
Photo: Scott Phillips