Pork chops with basil and garlic

A quick marinade of fresh basil, garlic and olive oil gives pan-grilled pork chops classic Italian flavor.

Blue Kitchen
Basil, garlic, and pork chops are a classic combination in Italian cuisine.

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
Serves 4

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.

Kitchen Notes

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

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.