Since pork started being billed as "the other white meat" pigs have been bred to have less and less fat, making pork a mostly useless food. Food without fat has no flavor. Luckily Mario Batali did this recipe on his show on Food TV a few years back, and I've been making it ever since. It allows dreadful lean pork chops to be moist, tender, and flavorful by braising them.
I like to serve it with broccoli. The French won't eat broccoli, instead feeding it to their pigs, which is why I like to pair it with these pork chops. What's the deal with the French and food. Just steam the broccoli, add some red pepper flakes and drizzle with good olive oil.
This is good Italian food that couldn't be simpler or more true to the ingredient-first philosophy of Italian cooking.
Fennel Pork Chops
1 head fennel
2 thick cut, bone-in pork chops
1 bottle dry italian white wine
Heat your oven to 350-400 degrees, whatever temperature your oven braises well at. This will be uncovered, so I use 400.
Slice the fennel bulb about 1/4 thick. Keep the stalks and feathery bits, unsliced.
Season chops with salt and pepper
Dredge the chops in flour (optional)
Press liberal amounts of the fennel seed into the pork chops on both sides. They will just stick to the surface. Saute the chops in a large pan until well browned on both sides. Don't under-do this step.
Add enough white wine to the pan so that the chops are shoulder high in wine, nearly but not covered. Add the sliced fennel. Put the feathers and stalks on top of the chops. Put it in the oven to braise.
Give it enough time in the oven for the wine to reduce by about 2/3, but don't let the chops dry out. The chops should be moist and very tender. Discard the fennel stalks and feathers. Serve the fennel bulb strewn on the chops, and use the braising liquid as a sauce just as it is.