Here, deglazing and then reducing cooking liquids -- along with the caramelized onions and mushrooms -- make an intensely flavored sauce that is lighter and more refined than flour-based gravy. Chicken breast halves may be substituted.
- 6 1-inch-thick, 5- to 6-ounce pork loin steaks (boneless pork chops), fat removed
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 large (10 to 12 ounces) cipolline onion, halved and cut into 1/4-inch half-moon slices
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 pound sliced mixed mushrooms, such as cremini, shiitake and oyster
- 2 pounds baby spinach, firm stems removed
- 3/4 cup rich chicken stock or broth (if using store-bought, add a bouillon cube)
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 teaspoon onion salt
- 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Have ready a large, shallow baking dish. Season the pork steaks with salt and pepper on both sides.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over high heat until it is almost smoking. Sear the pork steaks for 2 minutes on each side, then place them in the baking dish, cover tightly with aluminum foil and place in the oven while you prepare the vegetable mixture. This should take 5 to 10 minutes.
Add the onion, garlic and mushrooms to the hot skillet and stir quickly to coat. (You may need to add a few more drops of oil.) Reduce the heat to medium-high and let the vegetables brown nicely for about 5 minutes. If they start to burn, stir them around carefully to keep them from doing so; the idea is to caramelize them quickly. When they are deep brown, press all the spinach into the pan, then pour in the stock and cream all at once. Using tongs, combine the spinach just until it wilts, about 30 seconds. Add the onion salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, stirring to combine.
Remove the baking dish from the oven. Uncover the pork steaks and carefully pour any accumulated juices into the skillet. Using the tongs, push the pork steaks to the sides of the baking dish and transfer the spinach from the skillet to create a mound in the center of the baking dish, leaving as much of the mushroom-onion mixture in the skillet as possible. Re-cover the baking dish with the foil and return to the oven to bake while you finish the sauce.
Meanwhile, increase the skillet heat to high, so that the juices and vegetables boil and reduce until thick, 5 to 8 minutes. (If there is still some spinach in the pan, that is fine.)
At this point the pork should be barely pinkish. If you prefer the meat to be well done, leave it in the oven for a couple of minutes.
When done, remove the baking dish, uncover and spoon some of the mushroom-onion sauce over each pork steak. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve hot.
Adapted from chef and former restaurateur David Hagedorn.
Tested by John Allen.
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