I like to think of plums as the silent heroes of summer, sitting patiently among other more celebrated stone fruit like peaches and nectarines. Biting into a perfectly ripe, juicy plum is a rite of summer, and turning plums into dinner is one of the best ways to give them a place in the spotlight. When roasted with bone-in pork chops, plums get a bit jammy and turn into a sweet-savory sauce built around a few pantry staples and finished with a fistful of soft basil leaves. All this quick one-pan dinner needs is a crisp salad and a crusty loaf of bread for capturing all that saucy goodness.
Pork Chop Perfection
When buying pork chops, look for ones on the smaller side so that four can fit in the skillet, or else buy three bigger ones and plan on slicing them up before serving. Pork chops are a fairly lean cut of meat, which means they can overcook and dry out easily. Because we want to get good, flavorful browning on the stovetop but also make sure they don't overcook while they roast in the oven, we only brown one side of the pork.
Once the pork is browned, plums are thrown into the pan and the whole thing is roasted with balsamic vinegar for acidity, a touch of brown sugar to balance out the tartness, and soy sauce or tamari for a savory element. Because the sweetness of plums can vary, it's best to taste the sauce at the end since it may need a little more sugar if it's too tart. A small pat of butter helps thicken the sauce, make it glossy, and bring all the flavors together into one finger-licking good result.
One-Pan Basil-Plum Pork Chops
medium bone-in center-cut pork chops (about 1 3/4 pounds total)
Freshly ground black pepper
medium shallot, finely chopped (about 1/4 cup)
medium plums (about 4), pitted and cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
tamari or soy sauce
packed light or dark brown sugar, plus more as needed
thinly sliced fresh basil leaves
Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 400°F.
Heat the oil in a large cast iron skillet or oven-safe frying pan over medium-high heat until very hot and almost smoking. Meanwhile, pat the pork chops dry with paper towels. Generously season all over with salt and pepper. Add the pork to the pan and sear undisturbed until golden-brown on the bottom, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer to a large plate.
Reduce the heat to medium, add the shallot, season with salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat. Add the plums, vinegar, tamari or soy sauce, and 1 tablespoon brown sugar and stir to combine. Place the pork chops browned-side up over the plums and add any juices accumulated on the plate.
Roast until the pork registers 145°F on an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of each chop, 6 to 10 minutes depending on the thickness of the chops. Transfer the pork chops to serving plates. Add the butter to the pan and stir until fully melted. Taste the sauce and season with more sugar and salt as needed. Sprinkle with the basil and serve the plum sauce over the pork chops.
Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.