Thick Cut Pork Chops w/ Prosciutto Sauce + Montepulciano d'Abruzzo

If there was ever an excuse needed for pork on pork action, this is it. Pork chops are delicious by themselves, but add in a pork-infused sauce and you can practically escape the Matrix. I've been going through the SPQR cookbook lately cooking my way through northern Italy. 

Montepulicano d'Abruzzo isn't really in the north, it's more like in the middle of the country on the eastern side in one of Italy's most mountainous areas between the Apennines and the Adriatic coast. Not to be confused with Vino Nobile di Montepulciano made from Sangiovese in Tuscany (no wonder Italian wines can be confusing!) this is the DOC made with the Montepulciano grape.

At its best, Montepulciano d'Abruzzo has deep, soulful black/red fruits with plenty of sultry earth (damp soil, coffee grounds) and elevated acidity born out of clay/limestone soils at higher elevations. Because of that higher acidity, time in the cellar will reward those who are patient, especially when drinking wines from a producer like Emidio Pepe. There's a relaxed vibe to the wine making it look effortless to achieve concentration in the glass without breaking a sweat or making the wine too heavy.

Together, the main dish and wine carry a similar palate weight making the whole meal feel less heavy, but still luxurious from the wine's exotic earthiness and compounded rich pork flavors.

INGREDIENTS

2 thick cut pork loin chops, approximately 1-1/2" thick

1-2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil

1 cup beef stock

1 cup chicken stock

1/2 cup pork demi glaze (sub with chicken or beef stock)

1 OZ prosciutto

1 TSP balsamic vinegar

1 TSP honey

Fresh herbs (thyme, rosemary), chopped

Butter

Salt and Pepper

1. Start by making the sauce. In a medium sauce pan bring beef stock, chicken stock and pork demi to a boil and simmer until reduced to about a half a cup.

2. While liquid is simmering, cut prosciutto into thin strips. Sauté prosciutto over medium-low heat until crisp, about 5-10 minutes. Set prosciutto on a paper towel and discard any left over fat from pan. Add 1/2 TBSP of butter to pan and stir in crisp prosciutto. Once butter has melted, stir about 1 TSP of honey in and let caramelize. 

3. Stir caramelized prosciutto into reduced stock and add a few drops of balsamic vinegar.  Check sauce for level of saltiness and season to taste.

4. While sauce is going, preheat oven to 375° and season chops on both sides with salt and pepper.

5. In an oven safe skillet or braising pan heat enough olive oil to cover the bottom of pan. Sear pork on all sides until evenly caramelized on all sides—approximately 3 minutes. Transfer pork in pan to oven and roast until meat reaches 130°—approximately 8 minutes.

6. Remove pan from oven and add 1 TBSP butter over medium-high heat. Sprinkle in freshly chopped herbs and use tongs to baste the meat on all sides in the butter/herb mix.

7. Transfer pork to a plate and let sit for 10 minutes keeping mind meat will cook a bit more as it sits. Serve as individual portions with sauce on chops or on the side.