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Pork chops meet a dirty martini: a spicy dish best shaken, not stirred


A dirty martini is a good choice if you’re looking for a cocktail that’s savory, salty, and assertive. Those are the same qualities we look for in sauces to break up the richness of certain cuts of meat, such as chops.

Sure, we can eat our chops with a dirty martini straight up. But what if instead we played dirty and dribbled the flavors of a dirty martini into a pan sauce?

Once the meat is seared and aromatics such as garlic and shallots are sautéed, there are delicious browned bits called fond that line the skillet. To make sure all those bits end up in the pan sauce, we often deglaze the skillet with liquid; it loosens the flavorful fond, and as it cooks and reduces, it gets richer and deeper in flavor. It is customary to deglaze with wine or a fortified wine with marsala, sherry, port or vermouth (bulb!), or something stronger such as whiskey or vodka. Once the alcohol boils and the liquid diminishes, stock or water can be added, followed by a knob of butter, turning the mixture into a silky, velvety sauce.

When gin and dry vermouth simmer in a skillet of pork fat, their booze disappears and their floral qualities take over. Add any kind of green olives — stuffed with allspice or not — and some of their brine for saltiness, as well as lemon zest and juice to bring out the drink’s botanicals.

The dirty martini has a reputation, but it cleans up nicely

We skipped broth or water, resulting in a smaller amount of a sauce with a more aggressive flavor that’s only softened by the butter at the end. Butter can be tricky to emulsify smoothly into a sauce; it helps to start with cold butter and shake the skillet as it melts – rather than stirring the butter into the sauce.

Is the sauce stiff, dirty, nasty? Yes, of course, if you like the gimmick, but it’s also just a well-balanced, delicious pan sauce – just as good and as wrong as the dirty martini itself.

Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

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  • 1 lemon
  • Two (1- to 1 1/2-inch thick) bone-in pork chops, patted very dry
  • Fine salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon neutral oil, such as grapeseed oil
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup of gin
  • 1/4 cup dry vermouth
  • 1/4 cup green olives, pitted and halved, plus 1 tablespoon brine (any kind will work)
  • 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cubed

Remove wide strips of zest from the lemon with a vegetable peeler. Halve the lemon and squeeze out 1 tablespoon of juice. Season the chops generously all over with salt and pepper.

Heat the oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the chops and cook, turning every 2 minutes, until browned on the outside and the internal temperature in the thickest part is about 130 degrees, 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the meat. (Cooking the chops over medium heat and flipping them often results in more evenly cooked meat that is less likely to dry out before browning.) If your chops have a fat cap, use tongs to set the chops on their narrow sides , fat side down, and sear until crisp, about 1 minute. Transfer the meat to a plate and drain all but 2 tablespoons of the fat.

Add the shallot and lemon zest, season lightly with salt, and cook until the shallot is tender and golden brown, 2 to 4 minutes. Add the gin, vermouth and olives. Scrape browned bits from pan and simmer until reduced by half, 2 to 4 minutes.

Turn off the heat, discard the lemon rinds and stir in the olive brine and lemon juice. Add the butter and shake the skillet until the sauce is emulsified (shaking the skillet helps to bring the sauce together more seamlessly than stirring). Taste and season with more salt and pepper if desired – since olives vary in saltiness, you may not need additional salt. The sauce will be quite thin to better soak into the sliced ​​meat.

Cut the pork against the grain and serve with a drizzle of pan sauce.

Per serving (1 pork chop and 1/4 cup sauce)

Calories: 617; Total Fat: 28g; Saturated fat: 11 g; Cholesterol: 153mg; Sodium: 538mg; Carbohydrates: 6g; Dietary fiber: 1 g; Sugar: 1g; Protein: 40g

This analysis is an estimate based on available ingredients and this preparation. It should not replace the advice of a dietician or nutritionist.

From cookbook author Ali Slagle.

Tested by Alexis Sargent; email questions to voracious@washpost.com.

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