We're not fans of thin pork chops in a slow cooker. They're quick-cookers, after all, done in a few minutes over the heat. But we think thick, meaty, bone-in pork chops are perfect for a slow-down Sunday afternoon. They tenderize over time, holding together while releasing so much flavor into the sauce. This recipe may well be the best reason to pull out your slow cooker on a Sunday: an Italian-style braise for thick pork chops, ready in the evening by time you uncork a Pinot Grigio. Give this slow-down recipe a shot. You'll definitely make it again. We promise.
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil
- Four 1-pound (450-gram), 1 1/2-inch thick pork chops
- 2 medium shallots, chopped
- 1 small hot cherry pepper or small serrano chile, stemmed, seeded, and chopped
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
- 1 large fennel bulb, trimmed and chopped
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
- 1 tablespoon stemmed fresh thyme leaves
- One 14-ounce (400-gram) no-salt-added canned diced tomatoes
- 2/3 cup (90 grams) large black olives
- 1/2 cup (120 ml) dry vermouth
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1. Heat the oil in a large skillet set over medium heat or in the removable insert for a 6- to 7-quart slow cooker set over medium heat (see Note). Add two of the pork chops; brown well on both sides, about 5 minutes, turning once. Transfer to a plate and brown the other two chops before transferring them to the plate.
2. Add the shallots and pepper or chile; cook, stirring often, until the shallot softens, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and lemon zest; cook until aromatic, just a few seconds. Stir in the fennel, rosemary, and thyme; cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. If using a skilet, scrape its contents into a 6- to 7-quart slow cooker; if using the insert, set it into the cooker.
3. Stir in the tomatoes, olives, vermouth, salt, and pepper. Nestle the chops into the sauce; pour any juice from their plate into the cooker. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours, or until the meat is quite tender without yet falling off the bone. The dish will keep well on warm for up to 2 hours.
Not all inserts can be used with stovetop heat. Check your manufacturer's instructions to be sure. Any ceramic inserts most definitely cannot be so used.