I just got a question from my lovely friend Jessica about weeknight pork chops and how to cook them. There is a stand-by method I use that I picked up from Cooks Illustrated a few years ago that yields the juiciest pork chops I make. You end up sacrificing a little on the browning, but you can make up for that with a quick pan sauce. Basically, start your pork chops (seasoned with salt and pepper) in a cold pan (add some olive oil before the chops) that you keep covered as you bring them up to medium-high heat. This allows the chops to cook gradually, preserving some of the juiciness. Depending on thickness, I do about 7-10 minutes for the first side, covered, and 5-7 minutes for the second side. Once the pork is cooked, remove it to a plate and cover to rest while you put together a quick sauce.
You should have some liquid in the pan that you can quickly turn into something tasty with a dollop of dijon mustard, some chopped fresh herbs (thyme and rosemary are great), and a little pressed garlic, if you are in the mood for that. If you need more liquid, I suggest you use a little of the vermouth you have lying around that you are not using in martinis; it is a cheap and flavorful way to add some brightness to the sauce. White wine or a little lemon juice will work here, too. Adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper and spoon over chops. Serve with your favorite sides and a nice chilled Italian white. Heaven.
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