When I was growing up, this was often how we ate pork chops - simmered in tomato sauce and served with pasta. When I introduced this dish to my husband, he loved it right from the start. It's a simple dish but giving it the time it deserves is what is essential.
don't oversauce your pasta!
You must use bone-in pork chops for this dish. Please don't use boneless loin chops. Find the best bone-in pork chops you can - it will be worth it. There is so much more flavor when you leave the bone in cuts of meat, especially for long simmered dishes like this one. The chops I use are the T-Bone steak equivalent to pork - they contain a bit of the tenderloin on the chop. After they simmer for so long, they are fork tender and delicious.
Decent browning is another essential in this dish - when you brown chops, don't crowd the pan and be sure to brown them until you get a decent sear and they release easily from the pan. All this browning goodness adds up to extra flavor and doing it right is worth it.
For the sauce, I use San Marzano tomatoes because the flavor is so great. They are a low acid tomato from Italy. You can buy them in a can and puree them yourself or you can buy them already pureed, which I prefer right now. My favorite is this Passata from Cento. It is definitely a convenience item, but the flavor is fantastic.
Paccheri pasta - the preferred shape on the Amalfi Coast
For the pasta you can use whatever shape you like. We have really taken to this shape that we had while on the Amalfi Coast a while back - it seemed like it was the preferred pasta of the region and was in all the shops and restaurants. It's called Paccheri which means "slaps" and it is like a jumbo flat rigatoni. It's awesome. If you can't find a place that carries it, you can find it here. Whatever pasta you use just don't oversauce it. A little sauce goes a long way.
To serve, toss the pasta with just a little sauce and then serve the chops on the side in a separate bowl with the remainder of the sauce.
Mom's Pasta Sauce with Pork Chops
for a printable recipe click here
This sauce can be served with up to about one pound of pasta
The cooking time for these pork chops will depend on the thickness of the chops you use. Adjust accordingly.
Preheat the oven to 325° F.
Season the chops on both sides well with salt and pepper. Heat 1 Tablespoon of the olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium high heat. Brown the chops in two batches. You want a nice golden brown crust on both sides. Don't move them for a few minutes, to make sure you have a nice browning going on and then you can flip them. Remove from the pot and lower heat. Do not wipe out pot. Add 2 Tablespoons of the olive oil and the onion and cook gently for about 5 minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook for 1 minute. Increase heat to medium high, add the white wine and cook for about 3 minutes, scraping up any brown bits on the bottom of the pot. Add the pureed tomatoes, oregano and a little salt and pepper. Place chops back in pot, making sure to coat the ones on top in the tomato sauce if they are not fully submerged. Don't worry if they are not totally covered by the tomato sauce because you will rotate them halfway through the cooking. Cover the pot and place in the oven and cook for about 1 hour.
take time to brown the pork chops properly
Remove the pot and carefully remove the chops to rotate them - the top ones go on the bottom and the ones that were on the bottom can go on top. Place cover back on and cook for one more hour. Check for doneness. This will depend on how thick your chops are and what cut you used. They should be very tender. When I use extra thick chops, I will cook them for almost 3 hours. If they are not tender, you can cook for another 20 minutes and keep checking the tenderness. Check for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if you like.
To serve, I take a ladelful or two of the sauce and toss with the pasta in a serving bowl. The chops with the rest of the sauce goes in a different serving bowl. People can serve themselves and add as much sauce to their pasta as they like. Serve with lots of grated Parmesan cheese if you like.