This is classic Old World southern Italian fare: simple, pungent, porky. In the Old World and even in the new (see the pantry of Ann Hood’s mom, Gogo), the peppers that grow abundantly all summer long would be put up to be enjoyed throughout the winter. And then they are simply reheated in some of the pickling liquor, spooned over fat juicy pork chops.
The aging of the preserved peppers does enhance their flavor, but I’ve found that a quick and simple 24-hour pickle is easy, practical, and results in delicious “vinegar peppers,” as they call them in Gogo’s house. The ratio couldn’t be simpler: Stuff a 1 1/2 cup Ball jar with peppers (a mix of hot cherry and mild green is what Gogo prefers), equal parts vinegar and water, 1 tablespoon sugar, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. That alone results in a perfectly balanced pickle. But more, it can be endlessly enhanced (add garlic, coriander, pepper, bay, cumin, you name it) for more complex pickles.
Of course, you can use store-bought pickled peppers for this pork with peppers dish; peppers preserve readily so even these are of good quality. Though I’m partial to the 24-hour pickle, as the peppers retain some crunch without feeling raw. —Michael Ruhlman
Seed and slice the peppers as desired. Pack them into a 1 1/2-cup Ball jar. Fill the jar with water, then pour the water into a measuring cup, noting the amount. Pour out half the water and replace it with vinegar (you’ll likely have about 8 ounces of liquid in all).
Pour the vinegar and water into a sauce pan. Add the sugar and salt. Bring to a simmer. Immediately pour the liquid over the peppers in the jar. Screw the lid on the jar and let the liquid cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until ready to use (the peppers should be in the liquid at least 24 hours, and will keep for several weeks).
Remove the pork from the refrigerator an hour before cooking them and season aggressively with salt and pepper.
Preheat your oven to 350° F.
Generously coat the bottom of a large skillet with olive oil over high heat. Just before the oil smokes, add the pork chops and cook until they are nicely seared. Flip them and place the skillet in the oven for 5 to 10 minutes or until done as desired (they should be semi-firm to the touch -- not squishy, not stiff -- if you want the pork juicy, which I hope you do).
While the pork finishes, put the peppers along with half the pickling liquid into a small skillet over medium heat until they’re heated through.
When the pork chops are done, remove them to a platter and let them rest for a few minutes. Serve topped with hot vinegar peppers and juices.