serves: 4 servings
The sugar in the honey helps to caramelize the pork, onion and pears as they oven-braise. It is a technique that works well with other roasted meats and birds as well. Just mix a little honey with the pan juices and baste or brush the roast with that during the last 10 minutes or so of roasting.
For some dishes, you want the onions cut fine, so they almost disappear. Here, I cut the onions large-and the pears, too-so they keep their shape and don't fall apart. Even when ripe, Bosc pears stay firmer than most, making them just right for this dish.
2 cups balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 garlic cloves, peeled
4 center cut pork rib chops, each about 12-ounces and 1 1/4 inch thick
1 large red onion (about 12 ounces), cut into 8 wedges
¼ cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
In a small saucepan, bring the balsamic vinegar to a boil over high heat. Adjust the heat to a gentle boil and boil until the vinegar is syrupy and reduced to about 1/3 cup. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Heat the oil in a large, heavy skillet with a flameproof handle over medium-high heat. Whack the garlic cloves with the flat side of a knife and scatter them over the oil. Cook, shaking the skillet, until brown, about 2 minutes. Lay the pork chops in and cook until the underside is browned, about 6 minutes. Remove and reserve the garlic cloves if they become more than deep golden brown before the chops are fully browned. Turn the chops, tuck the onion wedges into the pan and continue cooking until the second side of the chops is browned, about 6 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. About half way through browning the second side, tuck the pear wedges in between the chops.
Stir the red wine vinegar and honey together in a small bowl, until the honey is dissolved. Pour the vinegar/honey mixture into the skillet and bring to a vigorous boil. Return the garlic cloves to the skillet if you have removed them. Place the skillet in the oven and roast until the onions and pears are tender and the juices from the pork are a rich, syrupy dark brown, about 30 minutes. Once or twice during roasting, turn the chops and redistribute the onions and pears. Handle the skillet carefully-it will be extremely hot.
Remove the skillet from the oven. Place a chop in the center of each warmed serving plate. Check the seasoning of the onion-pear mixture, adding salt and pepper if necessary. Spoon the pears, onion and pan juices around the chops. Drizzle the balsamic vinegar reduction around the edge of the plate.