I’m a huge fan of chicken Marsala and veal Marsala, but I’ve got a craving for a pork chop, so I figure “why not try pork Marsala?” At the store, a double thick pork chop catches my eye and once again I think, “Why not?” (read on to find out why not). I’ve never made Marsala sauce before, but I figure it’s a variation on the Fig Sauce I did in September, just with mushrooms and Marsala wine instead of figs and Balsamic vinegar. Let’s see how this one turns out. An ingredients list (of sorts) is at the end of this post.
I preheat the oven to 200˚F. I’m going to put the chops in the oven to stay warm while I prepare the sauce.
First, I want to brown the chop. I heat the olive oil in a heavy bottomed pan over medium-high heat. Then I dredge the chop lightly in flour and shake off the excess. I season the chop with salt and pepper. The chop should not enter the pan quietly, so I make sure that the pan and the oil are both preheated before putting it in. If you’re doing a bunch of chops, make sure there is a little bit of room around each chop. Too many chops in the pan will prevent them from browning properly. Brown for about 2 minutes on each side.
Once I brown the chop, I realize that this thing is going to need a lot more cooking time, so I decide to add some beef stock and let it simmer, covered. I’m hesitant to do this, because I worry that the flavor will diminish, but I decide I don’t have a choice. I add enough stock to reach a depth half way up the chop and then I cover, turn down the heat to medium-low and simmer for about 15 minutes, turning the chop over halfway through.
That was not a total disaster. I remove the chop and put it in the preheated oven to keep warm.
Then I turn up the heat to evaporate the remaining beef stock. This is a particularly good step because the pan is full of tasty brown stuff that is going to enhance the flavors to come.
I throw a big chunk of butter into the pan and add the shallots. Heat is a little higher than medium now. The butter melts, and I stir the shallots. They start to soften and the aroma is to die for.
After a couple of minutes, they start to brown and I add the garlic. I add the garlic this late, because I don’t want it to get scorched. After about one minute with the garlic in there, it’s time for the mushrooms.
I don’t want the mushrooms to get rubbery or mushy, so I am careful here. I make sure the pan is hot enough so they don’t enter the pan quietly, but I’m also aware that I’ve got garlic in the pan and I really don’t want it to get scorched. I keep stirring everything and watch for all that water stored in those mushrooms to start to be released. I’m aware that I need to add the Marsala wine soon and I try to decide whether to keep the mushrooms in the pan while I simmer the wine or to take them out. I fear that if I leave them in they will overcook, but I want the shallot and garlic flavors to mingle with the wine, so I don’t really want to dump out the whole pan while I simmer down the wine. Had I thought ahead, I might have simmered down the wine in a separate pan and then just added the reduction here. Maybe you can do that. As it stands, I decide to add the wine just as the mushrooms are starting to do their thing. I add about a cup and a half and let it simmer.
I add a little beef broth to the pan and let it reduce too. I’m watching those mushrooms carefully, wishing I had reduced all of this separately, but the mushrooms are still holding up, so I’m hopeful. Once the sauce has reduced by about half, I’m ready to add the cream. I add about 3/4 of a cup and stir to blend. I make sure the heat is low now, because I don’t want to scorch the cream. It’s time to pull the chop out of the oven and put it back in the saucepan. During this whole process, I have cooked extra wide egg noodles according to package directions and they are ready to go.
I let the cream heat up, start to bubble and thicken. Then I know it’s time to add the chopped Italian parley. As soon as the parsley is in, the dish is ready to plate.
It turns out pretty well. The meat is tender, the mushrooms are firm. The shallots really make the sauce tangy and sweet. If I were to do this dish again, I would reduce the wine and beef broth separately, so that I could take all of the time it needs to reduce in volume and intensify the flavor. I cut it a little short this time around to prevent the mushrooms from cooking for too long. Also, I would add a little less cream. I added 3/4 of a cup, but 2/3 of a cup would probably be better. The cream overpowered the sauce just a little.
I hate ingredients lists, but I’m going to go ahead and write one anyway. I tend not measure anything precisely so I’m including an explanation of how much you need to achieve a desired result.
Olive oil (enough to sautée the chops – 1-2 Tbsp.)
Flour (enough to dredge chops lightly)
Salt and pepper (to season the chops before they go in the pan)
Beef broth (enough to simmer the chops if they are thick enough to need the extra time, but I recommend buying thinner chops than I did – 1 cup?)
Unsalted butter (enough to sautée the shallots – 2 Tbsp.)
Shallots chopped finely (a couple of tablespoons for each serving – I used about 1/4 cup for my huge chop)
Garlic chopped finely (a couple of cloves – I used 2 because I don’t have the patience to chop more than that)
Sliced mushrooms (I used pre-sliced white button mushrooms and dumped in the whole container)
Marsala wine (1-2 cups – you’re going to reduce it anyway, so don’t worry about adding too much)
Beef broth (1/2 cup – you’re going to reduce this too)
Heavy whipping cream (2/3 cup more or less – go for color of the sauce when judging – add less than I did)
Italian parsley chopped finely (1 Tbsp per serving)
An ingredient I didn’t add, but you could: Fresh Sage. Add a couple of teaspoons of chopped fresh sage when you add the garlic. Lots of Marsala recipes use sage (I’ve discovered) and it makes sense to use it here.
Any other recommendations?