Thick-cut Pork Chop with Caramelized Onion, Fennel and Zin Sauce

“When trying the Old Vine Zinfandel I noticed it had a bit of an anise character to it…not strong, but somewhat hidden, so the first thing I thought to use in the recipe would be fennel. The wine also has a natural meatiness to it, so next was what protein to use? Beef would have worked, but I also felt that beef can sometimes be overused for wine pairings so I wanted to use something different, hence the pork chops. Add to the whole thing the saltiness from the pancetta and the sweetness from the onions, raisins and currants to cut though some of the acidity from the wine and there you have it.”

-Harry Wetzel IV, AVV Owner and Assistant Winemaker

– Serves 4 –

Pork Chop:
4 — 1” thick pork chops
salt & pepper
Olive Oil

Onion/Fennel Topping:
¼ lb. pancetta cut into ¼” cubes
1 fennel bulb, top removed, thinly sliced
2 yellow onions, thinly sliced
½ tsp. thyme
¼ tsp. fennel seeds
1 Tbsp. raisins
1 tsp. dried currants
¼ cup AVV Old Vine Zinfandel
pinch of red pepper flakes

Onion/Fennel Topping:
Brown the pancetta in a pan over medium heat. Once browned add the fennel, onion, thyme, fennel seeds, raisins, currants and red pepper flakes, reduce the heat to low and cover the pan. Cook the onion/fennel mixture covered for about 45 minutes, until mixture begins to soften and caramelize, stirring often. If the mixture becomes too dry and begins to stick to the pan, add some water to keep it moist. Remove the lid, add the wine and cook for 8 more minutes, or until most of the wine is gone. Set aside and keep warm.

Pork:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Season pork chops liberally on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat olive oil in a pan until hot but not smoking. Add the pork chops and allow them to sear for about 8 minutes on each side. Transfer pan to oven and let them cook until done, approximately 10 minutes or until a meat thermometer reads 160 degrees. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes before plating and topping with the onion/fennel mixture. Voila!

Enjoy with a glass of the 2013 Alexander School Old Vine Zinfandel.