Pork chops with balsamic-honey sauce and garlicky green beans

I feel like it's not cool to love pork chops but, boy, do I love them. The other white meat is cool for a few reasons: it cooks quickly (winner on a work night); it pairs with both savory and sweet things; and it's pretty damn hard to mess up. Pork chops in particular are a great piece of meat because of their steakiness for an un-steaky price. So, grab your boo and cook up a fews chops with a plucky, peppery pinot noir or wheaty Bohemian beer in-hand. 

What to know

So, what I'm calling a sauce is technically - in French cooking - classified as a gastrique. I don't tend to throw around that term because it oversells how simple it is to do: reduce vinegar and sugar together. While many recipes will call for you caramelize sugar first and deglaze with vinegar, you can also simply reduce vinegar with sugar. I like to replace sugar with honey because of the richness and depth that honey can add when you're not caramelizing. 

The thing that will make or break your gastrique – and, truly, any sauce – is whether you season it. A touch of salt and pepper can go a long way in making your food taste restaurant-quality.

Pork chops

2 half-pound bone-in pork chops, preferably about 1 inch thick

2 tbsp canola or vegetable oil

Salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

1 tbsp butter (optional)

How to do it

Season pork chops generously with salt and pepper.

Heat oil in a large sauté pan over high heat. Once oil is screaming hot - when a drop of water immediately sizzles when flicked into the pan - place pork chops into the pan.

Turn heat down to medium-high, and sear the pork chops for 5 minutes on each side, turning with tongs or spatula. (If the chops are thicker, cook about 1-2 minutes longer on each side; if using a meat thermometer, the internal temperature should read 145-degrees F for a medium-rare chop.)

In the last two minutes of cooking, add the butter (if using) and grab a spoon. Baste the sides of the pork chops with oil and butter in pan for the remaining time to take away any pinkness and to ensure an even sear and crispy texture.

Remove the chops from the pan and allow pork chops to rest for 2-3 minutes before serving.

If there are leftovers, reheat in the oven; the meat will last in the fridge for up to a week. Tacos are an excellent way to repurpose these chops.

Balsamic-honey sauce

1 cup balsamic vinegar

2 tbsp honey

1 tsp salt

How to do it

In a small sauce pan or sauté pan, add balsamic vinegar and simmer over low-medium heat until reduced by half, about 20 minutes. 

Once reduced, stir in honey and salt with a wooden spoon.

Keep sauce warm to serve. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator; this will last up to a month. This sauce can also be drizzled over salad or served as a side sauce with other items, though it may need to be slightly heated to become more viscose and less syrupy.

Green beans

2 cups fresh green beans, ends removed

2 cloves of garlic, skin removed and crushed

1/2 cup water

1/2 tsp salt

1 tbsp butter or olive oil

How to do it

In a small sauce pan, add all ingredients and turn on medium heat.

Cook green beans over medium heat until water have evaporated, about 12-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove from heat and serve immediately.

Leftovers can be stored for up to a week in the refrigerator and should be reheated in the microwave.