This article was originally featured in The 30 Second Wine Advisor's FoodLetter on Thursday, Nov. 17, 2005.

The pork chop dilemma


2 inch-thick pork loin chops, about 8 ounces (240g) each
Black pepper
1/2 of a sweet onion
2 cloves garlic
1/2 of a large red bell pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup beef broth
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon cornstarch (optional)


1. Put the pork chops on a plate and sprinkle them with salt and freshly ground black pepper. I like to do this a half-hour or so before cooking, to give the flavors time to penetrate into the meat.

2. Peel and chop the onion, mince the garlic, and cut the red bell pepper into small dice.

3. Put the olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Put in the pork chops and leave them on one side without moving for two or three minutes until nicely browned, then flip and brown the other side. Remove them briefly to a plate and keep warm.

4. Pour off a little of the fat in the skillet if it looks like too much, and cook the chopped onion and garlic in the remaining fat until they're aromatic and turning brown. Put in the pork chops and the diced red bell peppers. Mix the tomato paste in to the beef broth and pour this liquid into the skillet. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer, cover the chops tightly and cook over very low heat, turning occasionally, for a half-hour to 45 minutes or until the meat is tender.

5. Remove the chops to a serving plate and keep them warm. Turn heat back to high and boil the accumulated pan juices until they reduce and thicken a little; if you wish, dissolve the cornstarch in a little water and use it to thicken the sauce. Check for seasoning, pour over the chops and serve with mashed potatoes or white rice and a salad or green vegetable.

Riesling is a natural match with pork, and this dish went nicely with a limey, rather dry Australian model, Mount Langi Ghiran 2004 Victoria Riesling. As it turned out, the beef broth and red bell peppers and browned vegetables made a dish that would have easily been robust enough to stand up to a lighter red, too, from Beaujolais to Chianti.