Here, pork chops are simply seasoned and pan-seared to play the supporting role to a wonderful herb-cherry pan sauce—the true star of this recipe. The sauce is made up of sweet cherries, fresh thyme, and tawny Port wine—it’s mounted with butter at the end for a luscious texture and beautiful sheen.
What Are the Best Pork Chops?
My favorite pork chops to cook with are bone-in, center-cut chops. Center-cut chops are how I usually see them labeled in the grocery store, but sometimes they are labeled ribs or loin chops.
I prefer bone-in chops, because the bone makes it less likely for the pork to dry out while cooking, but boneless pork chops will work in this recipe too.
Best Port for This Recipe
Port wine is a sweet wine often enjoyed with dessert that comes from Portugal. It's most commonly made from red grapes and is also fortified, meaning that additional alcohol has been added to it.
I prefer tawny Port because it is aged and tends to have more complexity than ruby Port, but feel free to use whatever variety you might already have on hand.
Best Cherries for This Pan Sauce
I used bing cherries for this recipe, but any variety of sweet cherry will do. I find that a little bit of sweetness goes particularly well with pork dishes.
If you're only able to find sour cherries, then I'd recommend adding one teaspoon of sugar to the sauce as it reduces. This dish tastes great with either fresh or frozen cherries, so use fresh if they are in season and go for frozen if they aren't.
If pitting fresh cherries, my favorite pitter is this one made by Obecome that does six at a time.
Tips and Tricks for Making a Good Pan Sauce
It all starts with taking advantage of the fond, aka the brown bits stuck on the bottom of the pan after searing a food.
The way to do this is by deglazing the pan, which means to add liquid to help scrape up the brown bits to incorporate into your pan sauce. Then you reduce the liquid so that when it reduces the sauce has a rich consistency. Lastly, swirling in a bit of cold butter into the sauce gives it a luscious texture and nice sheen. (And don't forget to season it, of course!)
Swaps, Suggestions, and Substitutions
Feel free to use this recipe as a blueprint to come up with dishes of your own using a similar technique.
- I've already talked about the different types of cherries that you can use, but you could also try different types of fruit, like plums or figs.
- If thyme isn’t your favorite herb, mix it up. I think rosemary or tarragon would work beautifully in this sauce.
- Replace the pork with chicken thighs or boneless chicken breasts.
- If Port is hard to come by, substitute any red wine, plus one to two tablespoons sugar.
The possibilities are endless!
More Great Pork Chop Recipes
- Easy Smothered Pork Chops
- How to Cook Pork Chops Sous Vide
- Mom’s Perfect Pork Chops
- Citrus-Brined Pork Chops
- Pork Chops with Dijon Sauce
Pork Chops with Cherry Pan Sauce
- For the pork chops:
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 4 bone-in center-cut pork chops, about 3/4-inch-thick and 8 to 9 ounces each
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- For the herb-cherry pan sauce:
- 2 cups pitted halved sweet cherries (fresh or frozen)
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves or 1/2 teaspoon dried
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup tawny Port wine
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Season the pork chops:
Sprinkle the pork chops on both sides with the salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
Cook the pork chops:
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium to medium-high heat.
Add the pork chops two at a time, so as to not crowd the pan, and cook until browned on the first side, 4 to 5 minutes. Flip pork chops over and cook on other side for 3 to 4 minutes more.
Transfer to a tray or platter and cover with foil to keep warm. (You can also put them in a low oven if you wish.) Repeat with the remaining pork chops, adding more oil to the pan if dry.
Make the herb-cherry pan sauce:
Add the cherries, thyme, and salt to the pan and cook so they start to release their juices and soften, scraping up the stuck-on bits on the bottom of the pan, 3 to 4 minutes.
Add the Port and let simmer until reduced by about half, 10 to 12 minutes. Stir in the butter until emulsified and the sauce is nice and glossy. Taste and adjust with more salt to taste.
Serve the pork chops with the sauce on the side for diners to spoon on their plates or over their chops. Enjoy!