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Italian Pork Chops with Fresh Herbs

Did you know that chops in Italy are called braciole? As mentioned in a previous article, unlike in the U.S., in Italy the word braciole (singular braciola) generally indicates slices of meat, generally pork or beef, with or without bone, grilled or roasted over live coals, or brace, from which the name originates. That's what the word braciole means to Italians: simply, chops.

The difference with the beloved Italian-American braciole dish comes from the fact that most of the Italian immigrants of the U.S. came from the south of Italy, where in some areas, like in Sicily, the word braciole is also still used to indicate small and delicious stuffed beef rolls slowly cooked in tomato sauce and usually prepared for special occasions, just like today in most American families of Italian descent.

In Italy, one of the most popular braciole recipes is braciole di maiale, or pork chops, simply made by grilling or braising slices of pork loin or shoulder, previously marinated in olive oil with salt, pepper and fresh herbs.

Some white wine added towards the end part of the cooking will help dissolving the fat of the meat and release its natural flavor even more.

Ingredients and Instructions (serves 4):

  1. Finely chop the rosemary leaves and the sage, then mix with a generous pinch of salt and pepper in 1/2 cup of olive oil.

  2. Lay the pork chops in a large dish and rub them well with the whole oil and herbs mix; cover and let marinate for at least half hour in the refrigerator.

  3. In a large pan, hit up a couple of tablespoons of olive oil over high heat, lay the chops in it and brown them nicely on both sides. This should take about 2-3 minutes each side; in this step you are not trying to cook them through, just brown them as much as possible.

  4. Remove the chops from the pan, then reduce the heat to medium and add the garlic cloves. Let them cook for about 2 minutes, stirring them around the pan with a spoon so they donít burn and †become just golden brown all over while starting to soften a bit.

  5. At this point add the wine, stir and let it simmer for a couple of minutes or until reduced to a half; while doing this, you want to use a wooden spoon to scrape all those flavorful bits from the bottom of the pan and combine them with the wine and the garlic.

  6. Return the chops to the pan and continue cooking them in the wine, turning them at least once. Now the juices of the meat will combine with the wine creating a wonderful sauce full of flavor.

  7. When the sauce has thickened, the chops should be done. Transfer to a serving plate and pour over the sauce. Serve immediately.

Cinzia Aversa, 2014

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