As I learned in my early days as an apprentice chef, one of the first tasks performed every morning in a top restaurant kitchen is filling huge stockpots with meaty bones, aromatic vegetables, herbs, and water. Gently simmered for hours, these yield flavorful stocks, which may then be boiled down to essences that become the foundations for classic sauces.
In other words, the few intensely flavored spoonfuls that surround the main-course meat or poultry you order at night may well result from eight hours or more of careful cooking.
Few home cooks have that kind of time to prepare a delicious sauce. Fortunately, there's another, much quicker way. The secret can be found in the easy kitchen techniques known as deglazing and reduction.
When you saute or pan-fry food, some of the juices usually turn brown and form a flavorful concentrated glaze on the bottom of the pan. Deglazing is the process of dissolving the glaze in a liquid -- usually a flavorful one such as wine, broth, or fruit juice -- by adding the liquid to the hot pan and bringing it to a boil as you stir and scrape the deposits with a wooden spoon or spatula.
Once the glaze has dissolved, reduction takes its turn. This consists of briskly boiling the deglazing liquid until a significant percentage of its water (and alcohol, in the case of wine) has evaporated, thickening the consistency and concentrating the flavor. Usually, you can tell when the sauce has reduced the desired amount by seeing if it's thick enough to coat the back of a spoon -- a sign that it will also coat the food with which you serve it.
As you'll see in the recipe I share with you here for sauteed pork chops, deglazing and reduction will yield a delicious sauce -- here, using orange juice as the deglazing liquid -- in a matter of minutes instead of hours.
When I first demonstrated this recipe on
Preparing the pork chops in this way gives you a delicious, beautiful main course in less than half an hour. And I promise not to reveal your secret if you decide to tell everyone the sauce took you hours to make!
SAUTEED BONELESS PORK CHOPS WITH ORANGE SAUCE
2 seedless oranges, rinsed and dried
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 boneless center-cut pork chops, each about 6 ounces
Freshly ground black pepper
1-1/2 cups orange juice
2 tablespoons organic chicken broth or water
2 tablespoons store-bought hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh chives
With an orange zester or a swivel-bladed vegetable peeler, remove the bright orange zest from an orange, cutting it into very thin strips; transfer the zest to a small bowl and set aside. With a small, sharp knife, peel both oranges thickly enough to remove the membrane beneath the peel, exposing the fruit. Then, holding each orange over a bowl, cut between the membranes of each segment to remove the fruit, letting it drop into the bowl. Set the orange segments aside.
Heat a heavy-bottomed skillet large enough to hold the pork chops over high heat. Add the olive oil and swirl gently to coat the bottom of the skillet. When the oil is almost smoking hot, generously season the pork chops on both side with salt and pepper and add them to the skillet. Reduce the heat to medium-high and cook until the chops are nicely browned on both sides and just cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Remove the chops to a plate and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm.
Carefully pour off excess fat from the skillet. Carefully add the orange juice to the skillet and, over medium-high heat, stir and scrape with a wooden spoon to deglaze the pan deposits. Stir in the chicken broth or water and the hoisin sauce and continue simmering until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 2 minutes. Stir in the reserved orange segments and zest.
Arrange the pork chops on individual heated serving plates. Spoon the sauce and orange segments over and around each chop. Garnish with parsley and chives and serve immediately.
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(c) 2009 Wolfgang Puck
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