This is my mother's recipe, which I have adapted. My parents liked their chops well done, so my mother used to put the onions over the chops raw and bake the chops for 2 to 2½ hours in a low oven. I prefer my meat less well cooked, so I caramelize the onions first to cut down on the baking time.
Use as many onions as you like they break down during baking and mingle their juices with the butter and herbs to become so deliciously sweet and sticky that you can never have too much.
This is a dish for all sage and onion lovers. The pork chops are smothered in sweetly caramelized onions, which ooze into the meat during baking to give an exquisite flavor.
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). In a large, heavy frying pan, heat 2 tbsp of the oil with 2 tbsp of the butter until they are just beginning to turn brown.
Place the chops in the pan and cook quickly over medium-high heat, turning, until well colored. Transfer the chops to a roasting pan and season. Heat the remaining oil and another 2 tbsp of the butter in the frying pan and sauté the onions until well colored and almost caramelized, 10-15 minutes.
Spread the onions over the chops and sprinkle with the garlic, thyme, and both chopped and dried sage. Dot with small pieces of the remaining butter and put a bay leaf on each chop. Season well. Cover with foil and bake for 45-60 minutes. Transfer the chops and onions to plates and keep warm.
Boil the cooking juices until reduced, then spoon them over the chops and serve.
Buy larger cuts of meat; they're often sold at a lower price per pound than smaller ones. Ask the butcher to cut the pork shoulder arm picnic, beef chuck shoulder, beef rump, or bottom round roast into smaller pieces, or purchase family packs of meat in bulk from a club store. Label and freeze any portions you're not going to use right away.
Look for the bone in choices from less tender meats. They tend to cost less, and the bone adds a depth of flavor to stews and soups. Look for chuck blade steaks, shoulder lamb chops, veal breast, and lamb shanks.
Don't shy away from fat. The leaner the cut, the more expensive it'll be. Fresh ham, beef chuck, and cross rib pot roast are tender and juicy after a long braise, and the fat can easily be skimmed off after cooking.