I like basil. Scratch that. I love it. Basil and rosemary are my two favorite fresh herbs. So when Marion recently announced that one of our basil plants was finally ready for harvesting, I was ready, too.
Part of our new old house project has been rescuing the backyard, reclaiming garden space. The first step of this process is undoing damage, hauling away debris, healing the earth. Marion describes it beautifully in a new post on her blog 9591 Iris, The opposite of making a garden. But some planting has happened too, what she calls the backbone plantings. A few basil plants were part of that.
On the day the basil readiness announcement was made, I had some pork chops in the fridge and no particular recipe in mind. As much as I love both basil and pork, I don’t really think of them as going together. But as I started looking into it, it turns out they do. They’re kind of an item, in fact, especially in Italian-inspired cuisine, naturally, and especially when garlic is added in.
Some of the ideas I discovered sounded too ornate, some sounded meh. One used dried basil, and while we use plenty of dried herbs here, I was looking to use the beautiful fresh basil I suddenly had on hand.
So I improvised. I minced some garlic, finely chopped some basil and mixed them both with some olive oil. I salted and peppered the chops and coated them with the garlic/basil mixture, then let them sit on the counter for about half an hour to come to room temperature. This wasn’t originally meant to be a post, just dinner. But the aroma that filled the kitchen as the chops marinated was promising. As was the aroma when the chops hit the hot grill pan. So I grabbed a quick shot as they finished cooking, just in case they were worth a post. They most definitely were.
Pork Chops with Basil and Garlic
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for pan
4 bone-in pork chops, about 1/2 pound each
salt and freshly ground black pepper
special equipment: 13×9-inch glass baking dish, grill pan (see Kitchen Notes)
1. Mix basil, garlic and 3 tablespoons of oil in the glass baking dish. Season chops generously with salt and pepper on both sides, then add to the baking dish, turning to coat chops with basil, garlic and oil. Set aside for 1/2 hour at room temperature, turning chops a couple of times to recoat.
2. Heat a grilling pan over a medium-high flame. Be patient and let it get plenty hot. Brush pan with oil and add chops. Cook until browned on one side, about 4 minutes, then turn and cook on the second side until just cooked through (about 3 to 4 minutes, depending on thickness of chops—a little pinkness inside is fine). Transfer to a platter, tent loosely with foil and let rest for about 5 minutes. Serve.
Why I like a grill pan for this. A grill pan will give you nice grill marks and is less likely to scorch the garlic than a skillet. You can also cook these chops on an actual grill, but I really liked the flavor of the basil and the garlic and the meat without an overlay of smoke.
Related post on Blue Kitchen: Braised Pork Chops with Earl Grey Tea, Cider and Fennel