Sheet-Pan Pork Chops with Caramelized Fennel & Garlic-Lemon Butter

March 26, 2019
6 Ratings
Photo by Mark Weinberg
  • Prep time 10 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Serves 2 to 4 people
Author Notes

This recipe uses a few simple ingredients to create a hearty and delicious main course. The ground fennel seeds and Espelette pepper pair perfectly together as a delightful seasoning, especially when the garlic-lemon butter gets drizzled over the top of everything. —Josh Cohen

Test Kitchen Notes

This recipe is featured in the story, How These Crispy Sheet-Pan Pork Chops Made It on My All-Star Dinners List, sponsored by Miele. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 2 bulbs fennel, with fronds still attached
  • 1 drizzle olive oil
  • 1 dash salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 drizzle canola oil
  • 2 thick-cut bone-in pork chops
  • 1.5 teaspoons ground fennel seeds (freshly ground is best)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Espelette pepper (or substitute chili powder)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Trim off the fennel fronds and reserve them for later. Trim off and discard the root end of the fennel bulb. Remove and discard any outer layers of the fennel that are bruised or feel too rubbery. Cut the fennel bulb in half, through the core of the fennel, cutting parallel to the bulb's wider dimension. Cut each half into thirds, making sure that each piece includes some of the fennel's core (the core will hold the layers of the fennel together). Place the cut fennel on a rimmed baking sheet, and drizzle with enough olive oil to just coat the outsides. Season lightly with salt and bake for 45 minutes. Every fifteen minutes or so, flip and rotate the fennel pieces on the baking sheet.
  2. When the fennel has been cooking for 45 minutes, it's time to start cooking the pork chops. Leave the fennel in the oven cooking while you begin working on the pork chops. Season the pork chops with salt on both sides. Set a large skillet over high heat, and add just enough canola oil to cover the surface of the skillet. When the oil in the skillet just begins to smoke, add the pork chops. Let them cook, undisturbed, until the underside of each chop is nicely caramelized. You're aiming for a golden brown color.
  3. When you have nice color on one side of the pork chops, flip them and cook the other side until it looks equally golden brown. Next, use tongs to hold the chops on their side for a moment to try to brown any fat on the exterior of the chops. Remove the skillet from the heat and transfer the pork chops to the rimmed baking sheet in the oven with the fennel. Don't clean the skillet, you're about to use it to make garlic-lemon butter. Season the pork chops and the fennel with the ground fennel seeds and Espelette pepper. Remember to season both sides of the pork chops and fennel. You should season the pork more aggressively than you season the fennel. Cook the pork chops in the oven until the internal temperature of the pork chops is 145°. Start checking the temperature of the pork chops after about 5 minutes in the oven. Keep checking every 5 minutes until they are fully cooked.
  4. While the pork chops cook, remove any excess oil from the skillet. Add the butter and garlic to the skillet. Set the skillet over medium heat. Cook the garlic gently; you don't want it to burn. When the garlic just begins to start to brown, remove the skillet from the heat and add the lemon juice along with a pinch of salt. Use a wooden spoon to scrape up any caramelized bits from the bottom of the skillet. These caramelized bits will meld into the sauce and add flavor. Set the sauce aside.
  5. When the pork chops are fully cooked, let them rest for 3 minutes before serving. While the pork is resting, retrieve the fennel fronds that you reserved earlier, and pick a handful of the most tender fronds. Serve each pork chop along with some pieces of fennel, and spoon some sauce over the top of the pork and the fennel. Garnish with the fennel fronds. Enjoy.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Josh Cohen
    Josh Cohen
  • Jinx
  • Anna Sunderlage
    Anna Sunderlage
  • ortolan

5 Reviews

Jinx April 22, 2023
I love this recipe. The only thing I do different is I brine my pork. But everything else, wonderful, thank you :)
Anna S. December 23, 2021
This turned out really good. However, the title felt a little misleading. When I read “sheet-pan,” I think “one-pan” and that was not the case. Would love to know if this recipe could be done as a genuine sheet-pan recipe.
ortolan May 3, 2019
This was so good, and will definitely go into my regular weeknight rotation! I made a few adjustments to the recipe to make this more weeknight-friendly.
First, I cut the fennel into smaller, 1/4-inch thick slices. They caramelized much faster than 45 minutes.
Second, I added leeks to the fennel in the sheet pan. All I can say is that the leeks balanced the dish perfectly and added so much more crisp, caramelization.
Overall this recipe is wonderful!
Gail June 18, 2019
The fat on the pork chops in the picture isn’t browned. I would have stood them on their edges and browned them. Did yours brown in the oven?
Josh C. June 19, 2019
Hi Gail, it was a mistake to publish this recipe/photo without searing the fat on the pork chops. To be honest, that photo makes me cringe a little. I've updated the recipe to include a sentence about standing the chops on their edge to sear the fat. The photo likely won't be updated, but the recipe now includes that detail. Thanks for your comment.