We received our Imperfect Foods delivery yesterday morning. In the box were a couple of smallish d’anjou pears. In the freezer, we had a couple of largish bone-in pork chops.

Dinner was ready!

Years ago, I found a recipe in one of Lidia’s cookbooks – Lidia’s Italian American Kitchen – for pork chops with red onions and pears. I’ve made it many times over the years – I bought the book in 2001!

As with most recipes, I tend to make my own tweaks – and this one is no different. The base is fabulous, but there are a couple of steps I don’t bother with.

First, is making the balsamic reduction. I generally don’t have the cheap balsamic in the house – but I do have a really good 15 year aged balsamic I used for drizzling on top when it was time to serve.

Next is finally realizing that bone-in pork chops are the only chops worth buying. Boneless tend to be too tough and inconsistent. Also, I don’t peel my pears. I don’t peel a lot of fruits and vegetables – lots of texture and nutrients, there.

I added quartered small red potatoes along with the pears – also unpeeled.

The end result was delish!

Lidia’s Pork Chops with Pears and Caramelized Red Onions

  • 2 cups balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 4 center-cut pork rib chops, each about 12 ounces and 1 1/4 inches thick
  • 1 large red onion, cut into 8 wedges
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 2 ripe but firm Bosc pears, peeled, cored and each cut into 8 wedges
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons honey

In a small saucepan, bring balsamic vinegar to a boil over high heat. Adjust the heat to a gentle boil and boil until the vinegar is syrupy and reduced to about 1/3 cup. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Heat the oil in a large, heavy skillet with a flameproof handle over medium-high heat. Whack garlic cloves with the flat side of a knife and scatter over oil. Cook, shaking the skillet, until brown, about 2 minutes. Lay the pork chops in and cook until the underside is browned, about 6 minutes. Remove and reserve the garlic cloves if they become more than deep golden brown before the chops are fully browned.

Turn the chops, tuck the onion wedges into the pan and continue cooking until the second side of the chops is browned, about 6 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. About halfway through browning the second side, tuck the pear wedges in between the chops.

Stir the red wine vinegar and honey together in a small bowl, until the honey is dissolved. Pour the mixture into the skillet and bring to a vigorous boil. Return the garlic cloves to the skillet if you have removed them. Place the skillet in the oven and roast until onions and pears are tender and the juices from the pork are a rich, syrupy dark brown, about 30 minutes. Once or twice during roasting, turn the chops and redistribute the onions and pears. Handle the skillet carefully — it will be extremely hot.

Remove skillet from the oven. Place a chop in the center of each warmed serving plate. Check the seasoning of the onion-pear mixture, adding salt and pepper if necessary. Spoon the pears, onion and pan juices around the chops. Drizzle the balsamic vinegar reduction around the edge of the plate.

Makes 4 servings.


The beauty of this dish really is its versatility. You can swap out the pears for apples, peaches, figs… whatever. The red wine vinegar can be any vinegar you have in the house – I’ve used everything from Lingonberry to apple cider – and a few in between.

And, just for grins and giggles, if you’re in an area that has Imperfect Foods, if you follow the link below and join, you get four $20 credits ($80 total) and I get $30! Win-Win!

Imperfect Foods