How To Make Pork Chops With Pan Sauce

Every now and then the grocery store has a sale on pork tenderloin cryopacks. (Is that a brand name for that package? I have no idea.) They’re usually right around $2/pound, which is really good for pork.

They make great pork roasts, and are fabulous on the rotisserie. But those methods both take an hour or so to make. How about when you’re in a hurry?

Pork chops, baby. Better than center cut.


1 pork tenderloin (about two pounds)
kosher salt
fresh ground black pepper
1-2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons butter
2-3 tablespoons bacon fat


Pounding meat to make it thinner does a couple of things for you. First, thinner pieces of meat have more surface area compared to the total amount of meat. More surface means more Maillard reaction, so more golden crusty goodness.

Second, a thinner piece of meat cooks a lot faster. This isn’t about convenience or being in a hurry. The faster the center is done, the less time there is for the outside to dry out.

Third is something you don’t get by just cutting the meat thinner. The pounding process actually breaks down the connections between the fibers of the meat, meaning it’s going to be more tender.

So the first step is to slice the tenderloin into inch-thick slices. Don’t go all the way to the end where it gets really skinny.

Put the slices on a cutting board and cover with a piece of plastic wrap. Remember to leave plenty of space between them, as they’ll get a lot bigger around as you pound them. If you don’t have a meat mallet with a smooth side, use the bottom of a small pot. Pound each piece until is is less than a half-inch thick.

Season both sides generously with salt and pepper.

Let the chops rest for about 15 minutes after seasoning them. The salt will draw out a little juice. The sugars and protein in the juice will produce the crust. When you’re ready to cook them, melt a couple of tablespoons of bacon fat over high heat in a heavy-bottomed pan. Use enough to coat the entire bottom of the pan and a little way up the side.

Once the fat is completely melted, place the chops carefully in the pan. Unless your hands are made of asbestos, use tongs for this. The fat can splatter higher than you might expect. Leave them for at least a minute without touching them so a crust can form, then turn them over.

Give the other side a minute to form a crust. By this time they will have probably shrunk a bit. Check each piece to see which side has less of a crust, and place that side down. Push all the chops together in the center of the pan and cover with the smallest lid that will fit. If you don’t have a lid that fits inside your pan, like I have below, then just put the lid on your frying pan.

If you have a gas cooktop, turn the heat down very low. If you have electric that tends to hold a lot of heat, turn it off. Leave the chops covered for 10 minutes. The heat in the pan will finish cooking them. When you lift the lid up, the steam coming out will confirm it was still hot enough to keep cooking.

Transfer the chops to a serving dish and cover them while you make the sauce. Yes, I’m using the same lid I used when cooking them.

Pan Sauce

The pan should have most of the bacon fat you cooked in, plus whatever rendered out from the chops. Return it to low heat and add a dusting of flour, just enough to barely cover the bottom of the pan.

Add two tablespoons of butter and move it around the pan with a wooden spoon, combining the fat, butter and flour, and scraping up all the baked on bits or fond. Stir constantly over low heat.

The combination of fat and flour is similar to a roux, which is typically made with just butter and flour, but any fat will work.

Once you’ve cooked out the flour taste, just a couple of minutes, add about a quarter- to a half-cup of water or other liquid. Use enough to scrape up the last of the fond, known as deglazing.

This is normally done with wine or stock, but my girls don’t like wine sauces. Stir for a few minutes over low heat, breaking up the larger clumps of roux. When all the fond is released and the roux is evenly distributed through the liquid, turn the heat up until it just barely starts to boil. You need to get it this hot for just 20-30 seconds or the flour won’t thicken the sauce as it cools.

Now that the sauce is done, uncover the chops.

Pour the sauce over them.

Bring to the table and serve with … well, pretty much anything.

And that’s it.

If you want more details about pan sauce, but without the pictures, check out The Reluctant Gourmet’s page on Making Incredible Pan Sauces. He focuses more on the classic reduction for thickening, rather than the faster, roux-based method that I’m showing.