Cast Iron

Simple Summer Pork Chops with Balsamic-Pepper Plum Reduction and Fresh Thyme

August  2, 2010
2 Ratings
Photo by Alpha Smoot
  • Serves 4 to 6
Author Notes

This was inspired by a rhubarb reduction I used once on pork, and also by a need for an interesting and quick weeknight sauce. It makes the whole house smell like vinegar, but I really don't have a problem with that. We grilled the pork because we were grilling other things, but this sauce would also work wonderfully as a pan sauce. This meal is fantastic with a simple side salad and some crusty bread to soak up the plum juice. —kerrylow

Test Kitchen Notes

WHO: Kerrylow is a student living in Atlanta with a penchant for stone fruit.
WHAT: A simple grilled pork dish that makes the most of end-of-summer produce.
HOW: Throw some pork chops on the grill, then head back inside to make a plum reduction with balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, and thyme, which you'll spoon over top.
WHY WE LOVE IT: This dish is deceptively simple for how delicious and impressive it is. Invite some friends over, throw the chops on the grill, then spend the rest of your evening outside instead of cooking under a roof. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • For the pork:
  • 4 to 5 pork chops
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • For the plum reduction:
  • 2 plums (any color works here; my favorites are the deep-red fleshed ones)
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed from sprig
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground rainbow peppercorns
  1. Rub the pork with the oil and salt and pepper. Put on hot grill. Or, if you are cooking in the pan, set it aside and wait a bit. Grill for 3 to 5 minutes on each side, until nicely browned and cooked through.
  2. Chop the plums into small bites. Place all of the ingredients for the reduction in a cast iron pan. You can also use a small saucepan here, but I like my cast iron.
  3. Simmer over low-medium heat until the plums are softened and the balsamic is reduced to half. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking. The plums will still be chunky when finished.
  4. Pour the sauce over the pork chops, and enjoy with good crusty bread.
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9 Reviews

Sarah W. August 19, 2020
I made this with dates instead of plums - quite good! The sauce had to wait on the stove for a long time, so it got a little too thick. I added some white wine to loosen it up again.
Lune October 26, 2019
I had a bit of plums from my box of veggies and fruits and I was looking to make something that would last once done knowing that fruits won't be happening in the fall/winter months in MA. This sauce was a bit acidic. It must have to do with the variation of balsamic vinegar out there. I added a touch of cream (1 tbs) at the end and it mellowed it out. Looking forward to use the sauce to accentuated winter months dishes!
Terry September 4, 2017
A bit more direction for cooking the pork chops would be helpful. The instructions imply that this part should be a no-brainer, but I don't remember when I cooked these last (if ever) and it seems there is conflicting information on the web as to how this cut responds to high/low/moist/dry heat. Also, do you mean bone-in chops? Boneless? I ended up cooking 2 bone-in, pastured Berkshire chops (with lots of surrounding fat) in my grill pan; and as the fat did not render nearly as much as I expected it was hard to tell when to take them off. My husband said his was "very moist" but I found mine a bit dry and tough, despite all the fat and even having brined them for an hour+ prior to cooking. I didn't have plums on-hand so I used pitted cherries for a "last hurrah" of summer. The amount I used was at least equivalent to two plums, but I still found 1/2 cup balsamic to be too vinegar-y (although I'm not a huge vinegar fan). This looked appealing because it seemed a good, simple Labor Day recipe and I would try it again; I just think it could use some tweaking.
Adam L. August 30, 2016
Definitely want to try this soon. Could the chops be baked in the oven if one doesn't have a grill?
Caroline C. August 24, 2016
How important is the inclusion of rainbow peppercorns vs black?
Shauna H. August 11, 2016
Made this dish last - absolutely fantastic. Super tasty and even better - super easy. Left the skins on, good dose of thyme and reduced to a jammy like consistency. Everyone was looking for seconds :)
NancyFromKona June 13, 2016
Could not wait for plums to come to the market so made it with peaches and it is wonderful with a definite peach taste. Going over pulled pork sandwiches. I'll bet chilled and mixed with a little olive oil it would make a great salad dressing.
Rob P. May 29, 2016
I left the skins on and it was great. Also, it turns out this reduction is wonderful on vanilla ice cream!!
gandalf August 18, 2015
Do you include the skins on the plums when making the reduction? Thanks.