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Pork Chops with Mustard-Sage Sauce
Serves 4. Published March 1, 2004.

In this recipe, “natural” pork chops—not “enhanced”—work best; the liquid injected into enhanced pork inhibits browning. Electric burners are slower to heat than gas burners, so, if using one, begin heating the burner before seasoning the chops. When cooking the first side of the chops, use color as an indicator of when to flip them; to determine doneness, use an instant-read thermometer—do not go solely by cooking times.

4 bone-in pork rib chops or center-cut chops, about 7 ounces each and 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick, patted dry with paper towels and prepared according to illustration 1 below
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
Table salt and ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 medium clove garlic , minced
1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon minced fresh sage leaves
Table salt and ground black pepper

1. If using electric stove, turn burner to medium heat. Rub both sides of each chop with 1/8 teaspoon oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sprinkle one side of each chop evenly with 1/8 teaspoon sugar, avoiding the bone.

2. Place chops, sugared-side down, in 12-inch nonstick skillet (as shown in illustration 2). Using hands, press meat of each chop into pan. Set skillet with chops over medium heat; cook until lightly browned, 4 to 9 minutes (chops should be sizzling after 2 minutes; if not, see step 4). Using tongs, flip chops, positioning them in same manner. Cover skillet, reduce heat to low, and cook until center of each chop registers 140 degrees on instant-read thermometer, 3 to 6 minutes (begin checking temperature — as shown in illustrated 3 — after 2 minutes); chops will barely brown on second side. Transfer chops to platter, tent with foil, and let rest.

3. Pour liquid in skillet into small bowl. While chops are resting, add vegetable oil and garlic to now-empty skillet; set skillet over medium heat and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add low-sodium chicken broth; increase heat to high and simmer until reduced to about 2 tablespoons, about 3 minutes. Add pork chop juices to skillet. Off heat, whisk in Dijon mustard and butter until combined. Stir in sage and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper; spoon sauce over chops and serve immediately.

4. Do You Hear What I Hear? If you don’t hear a gentle sizzle after the pork chops have been cooking for two minutes over medium heat,your stovetop is running at a low heat output. Raise the meat to medium-high to cook the pork chops uncovered (as directed in the recipe). Then reduce the heat to medium-low instead of low, cover the pork chops, and continue as directed.

Cooking the Chops

1. Cut two slits about 2 inches apart through fat and connective tissue.

2. Place pork chops in cold pan with bony ribs facing center.

3. Rely on temperature, not timing to judge when chops are done.

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