Panneed Pork Chops with Fennel Creole Sauce

Some years ago, the annual March of Dimes Gourmet Gala took the form of a celebrity cooking competition, to which I was invited. My dish was panneed sweetbreads prepared with the sauce below. I won!

As much as I like sweetbreads, I’m giving you this recipe with pork chops because a) sweetbreads are hard to find and fool with, and b) a lot of people don’t like sweetbreads. This pork chop takes on an amazing appearance after you pound it out; the bone almost looks ridiculous.

Panneed pork made into the shape of a fleur de lis.

  • Sauce:
  • 3 Tbs. butter
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 medium bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 bulb fresh fennel
  • 1 rib celery, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. chopped garlic
  • 1 28-oz. can whole tomatoes
  • 2 large ripe tomatoes, seeds and pulp removed, diced
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 bunch green onions, sliced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. white pepper
  • 1 tsp. Crystal hot sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • ~
  • 8 center-cut pork chops, trimmed
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. salt-free Creole seasoning
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups freshly grated bread crumbs
  • Canola or olive oil
  • Fresh chervil (or parsley)

1. For Creole sauce, heat butter in a heavy saucepan and sauté the onions, bell pepper, fennel, celery, and garlic until just tender, but not browned–about five minutes.

2. With your fingers or a food processor, break up the canned tomatoes. Add them, all the juice from the can, and the fresh tomatoes to the pot, along with the chicken stock. Bring to a light boil.

3. Add all the remaining sauce ingredients and cook over medium heat for five minutes.

4. Lower to a simmer and cook until the sauce has reached a non-runny consistency. Adjust salt and pepper levels, and keep warm until time to serve.

5. Pound the pork chops between two pieces of waxed paper (or inside a large food-storage bag) until they’re about twice their original size.

6. Mix the salt and Creole seasoning into the flour, and lightly dust (don’t dredge!) the pork chops with that.

7. Pass the pork chops through the beaten egg. Shake of the excess. Then dredge through the bread crumbs.

8. Heat about a half-inch of oil in a heavy skillet (cast iron is perfect) over medium-high fire, until a pinch of bread crumbs fries vigorously. Cook the pork chops, one at a time, for about a minute and a half per side, or until the exterior is golden brown. Remove and drain on paper towels.

9. Spoon about 1/4 cup of sauce around each chop and serve garnished with chervil or parsley

Makes about four cups of sauce. Serves four.