Allegra McEvedy Cooks the Perfect Pork Chop

Pears make the perfect partner to pork. Add some ginger for sweetness and spice and serve with lentils for a satisfying autumn meal.

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Supper for 2

140g lentils (brown, green or Puy, just not red)

Good knob of butter

1 ripe pear, of the short, fat juicy kind, not the hard, tall variety, cut into 8 pieces

2 tbsp stem ginger syrup, plus 1 nugget of stem ginger, finely chopped

Extra virgin olive oil

2 pork chops, 250–300g each (a couple of cms thick)

100ml red wine

Good handful of basil leaves

2 tbsp red wine vinegar

Salt and pepper

English mustard, to serve

Preparation Method

Put the lentils in a pan and cover with enough water to come about 4cm above the lentils. Pop a lid on and bring to the boil, then take off the lid and turn down to a simmer for about half an hour until they’re cooked.

Melt the butter in a large frying pan and fry the pear slices for a couple of minutes until browning, then stir in the ginger syrup. The soft pears will become lovely and sticky. Tip into a bowl and cover with foil or cling film. You want the pears to be at room temperature or warm when it comes to serving up.

Give the pan a quick rinse and wipe, then put back on the heat to dry out. Pour in a good splash of olive oil and turn the heat up high. Season the pork chops on both sides, lay them in the hot oil and cook on one side for 5–6 minutes until golden brown, turning the heat down a touch if the colour deepens too fast.

Turn the chops over and turn the heat back up to high. Cook for just a couple of minutes until the colour matches the top, then turn the heat down a bit for as long as it takes for them to cook through – about 5–6 minutes, depending on thickness and size. The best way to test they’re done is to stick a thin knife or skewer into the thickest part, right next to the bone, leave there for 5 seconds, then touch it to your top lip – it should feel hot but not piping. If it’s cold or just warm, keep cooking for a bit longer and repeat the knife test.

Once your chops are cooked, turn off the heat, take them out of the pan and rest on a plate.

Pour the red wine into the pan and stir, scraping the porky bits up off the bottom as the wine reduces to a couple of tablespoons. If the pan is so hot that it bubbles dry, just add a splash of water.

While the chops are resting, finish the lentils, which should be cooked by now. Drain them and mix with the chopped stem ginger, basil, red wine reduction from the pan, red wine vinegar, a splash of olive oil and some seasoning.

When the chops have had at least 5 mins of resting, pour the juices that have come out of them into the lentils too. Serve with sticky pears wedges and some English mustard.

Tips and techniques

1. When buying the chops choose ones that are quite thick, ideally 3-4 cm thick with a good trim of fat round the edge.

2. Ideally the pork should be around room temperature or just below before you cook it. This enables the heat to penetrate quickly.

3. Season the chop on one side before adding to the pan.

4. You need a hot pan. Close the kitchen door, open the windows and cook on a high heat. Once the chop is nice and golden, lower the heat. Before you flip the chop over, make sure you season the other side and turn the heat back up to high so that you can get the same colour on both sides.

5. Once the chop is cooked, rest for 5 mins before serving.