Quick seared pork chops braised in a fresh chile ancho tomatillo salsa.
One of my favorite meals to prepare when I don’t have much time to spend in the kitchen is chuletas en salsa ranchera. It can be prepared with your favorite salsa, homemade or store-bought, boneless or bone-in pork chops. I prefer the thin-cut chops for this quick recipe, but if you go with a thick-cut pork chop, you will need a longer braising time for a more tender chop. The salsa recipe was adapted from a delicious store-bought salsa that my family loved. The store-bought salsas were few and far between, but this was was exceptionally good! It combines smoky chile ancho, chile de árbol and tangy tomatillos. This is my version of that salsa.
Season the chops to taste, with the salt, pepper, garlic powder and crushed red pepper flakes on both sides. Set aside.
Once all the peppers, onion, and garlic are chopped, set them aside.
In a large skillet that can fit all of the chops, preheat 3 tablespoons of olive oil to medium heat. When it’s hot, sear the chops for 3 to 4 minutes per sides or until nicely browned. Remove from pan onto a plate.
In that same skillet, at medium heat, add the garlic and stir quickly so it does not burn. If pan is too dry add a drizzle more of oil. After a minute, add the salsa from the blender. It will starts to boil pretty fast, so stir quick and keep lid handy. Reduce heat slightly and let salsa simmer for 5 minutes.
Add the chops back into the salsa so they are mostly covered. Cook for 10 minutes.
Spread the peppers and onions around the edges or any openings and push slightly down into salsa. Season the pepper/onions with a little more salt, pepper and oregano. Cover and let cook for 6 to 8 minutes. If you like your peppers and onions more cooked, you could lift the chops and push them underneath and into the salsa so they cook more.
For the Salsa Ranchera
Add the chile ancho, chile de arbol and tomatillos to a sauce pan. Cover with water and bring to a fast boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 to 6 minutes. Remove from heat and let steep while you prep your vegetables.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer the salsa ingredients to the blender. Add 1 cup of broth (or water), oregano, cumin, salt and pepper to taste. Blend on high until smooth. Taste for salt and set aside. For a smoother finish on the salsa, you could strain in using a wire-mesh strainer. I left it as is.
Not only delicious for braising pork chops, the salsa ranchera is great to serve wit a fresh batch of homemade tortilla chips!