Recipe: Sous-Vide Rosemary Pork Chops with Fig Compote

Pork chops are one of those tricky foods to cook. I’m willing to bet at least half of the chops you’ve ever had were tough and/or dry to some degree. This has a lot to do with the use of direct heat, fast cooking time and a lingering adherence to the old USDA recommended internal temperature of 160º F. (In 2011, the temperature was lowered to 145º F.) The sous-vide cooking method – rediscovered by French and American engineers in the 1960s and recently popularized by Nathan Myhrvold’s Modernist Cuisine – takes a wholly nontraditional approach to cooking, one that is more involved yet eliminates overdone meats once and for all.

This recipe borrows from the “At Home” edition of Modernist Cuisine and a cookbook I wish I had while in college, The Brokeass Gourmet Cookbook by Gabi Moskowitz. Sous-vide is only used here to cook the pork and make rosemary-infused oil, so if the cooking method is not your thing, you can certainly cook the chops traditionally and substitute a standard, neutral oil.

The four components for this dish are separated into individual recipes to make it easier to mix and match.

Rosemary-Infused Oil

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  • 25g Rosemary Stems
  • 250ml Neutral, high-heat oil (Grapeseed oil was used for this recipe)

Heat a water bath to 178º F. Combine the whole rosemary sprigs and oil in a zip-top bag and remove as much air as possible before sealing. Put the bag in the bath for one hour. Use a fine sieve to strain the oil. Keep refrigerated. Keeps fresh for 5 days.

Pork Chops

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  • 2 Bone-in pork chops, thick cut
  • Rosemary-infused oil or other neutral oil
  • Rendered bacon fat (optional)

Heat a water bath to 133º F. Place each chop in its own airtight bag and add about a tablespoon of oil. Remove as much air as possible and place in the bath for 1 hour. (You may use a vacuum sealer or zip-top bag + water submersion for this.)

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Remove the chops and pat them dry. Brush the bacon fat or neutral oil on the chops and sear with a blow torch. (Searing can also be done with a high-heat pan or grill, but be careful to not further cook the inside of the meat, as it’s already done and may lose moisture.)

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  • 1 Shallot, diced
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, diced
  • Leaves from 2 sprigs of rosemary, chopped
  • Rosemary-infused oil or other neutral oil
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat. Combine the remaining ingredients and saute until semi-translucent, about 10-15 minutes.

Fig Compote

  • 8 Figs (dried), diced
  • 1/4 cup Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Heat all ingredients in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir regularly and add water if necessary to keep the compote from drying out. Remove from heat once the compote is of a think, jam-like consistency.

The Final Dish

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Plate each chop and generously spread the seasoning on top. Dollop the fig compote on the side and serve with a vegetable of your choice.

About The Author

Kyle Anderson
I'm a media and IT professional and JavaScript developer who worked most recently as an Associate Broadcast IT Engineer (Tier II) for CNN in Atlanta. One of my life-long goals is to help bridge data divides - missing connections between software systems and data stores - promoting inter-system communication and automation. Many of the projects described here reflect this goal in some way or another.