Braised Pork Chops with Fennel and White Beans

Rosemary-rubbed pork chops cooked with fennel in an aromatic mixture of broth, wine, and garlic, and enriched with an addition of cannellini beans make an irresistible main course for cool, crisp autumn evenings. Serve this robust entree with mashed potatoes or buttered noodles. Add a baby romaine salad and a basket of warm crusty peasant bread to round out the menu.

6 boneless pork chops, about 6 ounces each and 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick
1 tablespoon dried crushed rosemary (See note.)
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided, plus more if needed
2 large fennel bulbs (about 2 pounds), quartered lengthwise, bases cut off, tough cores removed, and
halves cut into 1/2-inch thick julienne strips
3 tablespoon flour
4 cups reduced sodium chicken stock
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
3 medium garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
Two 14-ounce cans cannellini beans, rinsed well and drained
2 to 3 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary plus 6 rosemary sprigs, for garnish

Arrange a rack at center position and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Pat pork chops dry with paper towels. Mix together dried rosemary, salt, and pepper in a small bowl, then spread mixture of both sides of each pork chop.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large, heavy oven-proof skillet (with a lid) over medium-high heat until hot. Add chops and brown on both sides, about 5 minutes per side. Remove from the pan to a dinner plate. Add 2 additional tablespoons of oil to the skillet and fennel strips. Saute, stirring, until lightly browned around the edges, 4 to 5 minutes. Sprinkle fennel with flour and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes, adding more oil if needed. Return chops and any accumulated juices to skillet along with stock, wine, and garlic.

Bring mixture to a simmer, lower heat, then cover. Place skillet in the oven and cook until meat is fork tender, 1 hour or longer. Stir in beans and cook, uncovered for 15 minutes more.

Return skillet to the stovetop and remove chops, placing one each in individual shallow bowls. With a slotted spoon, divide fennel and beans evenly and add to each bowl. Return skillet to medium-high heat and cook until liquid is reduced by a third, about 15 minutes. Taste sauce and season with salt and pepper as needed. Ladle some sauce over each serving. Garnish each serving with chopped rosemary and a rosemary sprigs. Serves 6.

Note: To save time, try to use crushed dried rosemary (found in spice section of many groceries), rather than whole rosemary leaves that you crush yourself. McCormick’s is a readily available brand.

© Copyright Betty Rosbottom 2011

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