Pork hates me.  Seriously.  Every time I take a pretty little pork chop and try to fry it, or broil it, or grill it, I end up with a charred, leathery mess that’s somehow still bleeding inside.  Gross.  This recipe in particular has been almost more trouble than it’s worth.  Why I keep trying, I have no idea.  I should have tossed the recipe card ages ago.  It always lures me in with promises of easy, delicious pork smothered in mushroom sauce, and I always mess it up.  Every. time.

Well.  My husband asked me the other day if I would give it another try.  Apparently he wasn’t scarred for life from my previous attempts.  Maybe he was worried that I would be the one forever haunted by my cooking failures, something like Frank Costanza in Seinfeld.  Mushrooms and balsamic vinegar really should make for an amazing sauce, after all, and I’ve been doing better lately at making breaded pork chops without destroying them.

Fifth time’s a charm, it seems.  The pork was juicy on the inside, with a beautiful brown crust on the outside.  The sauce was tangy and creamy and full of mushroom-y goodness.  It was a complete success.  The recipe was conquered.  I was like a phoenix, rising from Arizona (sorry… we’ve been watching a lot of Seinfeld lately).

My tips:  I modified the recipe a little and coated the pork in a mixture of flour and pepper, to give it a nice crust and to keep the pepper from burning.  I think the trick to making sure the pork doesn’t burn before the inside has a chance to finish is to cook it slowly over a fairly low heat.  For this recipe, you only need to brown the outside of the meat at first; once the sauce is added, it has a chance to finish cooking internally as well.

Peppered Pork with Balsamic Mushroom Sauce (from this recipe)
Time:  30 minutes
Serves 4

1 to 1 1/4 lb. pork steaks OR pork tenderloin, cut into 1/2-inch slices (if using large pork steaks, make two and cut them in half after cooking to serve 4)
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp. coarse ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. salt
canola or olive oil
3/4 cup chicken broth
2 T. flour
1 T. balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp. dried thyme leaves
8 oz. quartered fresh mushrooms OR 1 can mushrooms
Cooked rice or egg noodles

Combine 1/2 cup flour, pepper, and salt.  Place on a large plate or in a shallow bowl.  Coat both sides of pork with flour mixture.  In a large skillet, heat about 1 T. oil over medium-low heat.  Add pork; cook 3 to 5 minutes on each side, until browned but not cooked through.  (Add more oil after turning, if needed.)

Meanwhile, in small bowl, whisk together broth and 2 T. flour until smooth.  Add broth mixture and remaining ingredients to skillet.  Heat to boiling; reduce heat.  Cover and cook 8 to 10 minutes or until pork is no longer pink in center and mushrooms are tender, stirring occasionally.  Serve over rice or egg noodles.