When Matt Molina arrived in Italy, he had succulent pork chops wrapped in thin layers of lardo (cured pork fat) at La Locanda della Ribollita in Chiusi. If lardo is hard to find, substitute pancetta (cured pork belly rolled into a log); unfurl the slices into long strips before wrapping the chops.
Great Italian Recipes
Eight 6-inch-long rosemary branches
4 garlic cloves—2 minced, 2 crushed
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Four 3/4-inch-thick boneless pork chops
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 very thin slices of lardo (see Note) or unrolled pancetta
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 tablespoons green peppercorns in brine, rinsed
How to Make It
Using your fingers, strip off the leaves from the bottom 4 inches of the rosemary branches and finely chop enough leaves to make 2 tablespoons. In a large, shallow dish, mix the chopped rosemary with the minced garlic and 1/4 cup of the olive oil. Season the pork chops with salt and black pepper, add them to the rosemary marinade and turn to coat. Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour.
Wrap 2 slices of the lardo around the edge of each pork chop and secure with a toothpick. On the side opposite the toothpick, skewer each of the chops with 2 stripped rosemary branches.
In a large skillet, heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the pork chops and cook over moderately high heat until richly browned on the bottom, about 3 minutes. Turn the chops and cook over moderate heat until browned on the second side and just cooked through, about 4 minutes longer. Transfer the pork chops to a platter and keep warm.
Pour off the fat in the skillet and add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the crushed garlic and cook over moderately high heat until golden brown, about 1 minute. Add the wine and boil over high heat, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the skillet, until reduced to 2 tablespoons. Add the chicken broth, grated lemon zest and crushed red pepper and boil until reduced to 1/2 cup, about 8 minutes. Remove from the heat. Discard the crushed garlic and stir in the brined green peppercorns. Season with salt and black pepper. Remove the toothpicks from the pork. Spoon the sauce over the chops and serve.
Lardo is available at Italian markets and specialty-food shops.
Though Umbria is known for local grape varieties, such as Grechetto, it's also a good source for affordable, juicy Merlot. Merlots from central or northern Italy have a lightly peppery finish that makes them a natural match for this pork dish.
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