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Pork chops with garlic-cream pan sauce

December 1, 2004

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Meat expert Bruce Aidells cooks his pork -- in this case thickly cut chops -- to an internal temperature of 145 to 150 degrees, which results in tender meat with a slightly pink interior. Serves 4.

4 thick center-cut pork loin chops or boneless loin chops (1 ¼ to 1 ½-inches thick; 2 to 3 pounds total)

1 teaspoon each chopped fresh thyme and sage

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil

4 cloves garlic, peeled

½ cup chicken stock

½ cup dry white wine

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons heavy cream

1. Trim the excess fat from the edge of the chops. In a bowl, combine the thyme, sage, salt, and pepper. Sprinkle the herb mixture on both sides of the chops. Let them sit at room temperature for 30 minutes; alternatively, cover and refrigerate for 24 hours.

2. In a heavy skillet large enough to hold all the chops in one layer, over medium-high heat, heat the oil. When it is hot, brown the chops for 1 to 2 minutes on a side. Adjust the heat if the pan seems too hot. Lower the heat so the chops still sizzle. Cover the pan and cook for 3 to 4 minutes more or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 140 to 145 degrees.

3. Transfer the chops to a warm platter (set the skillet aside), cover chops loosely with foil, and let them rest for 5 minutes. The internal temperature will rise to 145 to 150 degrees.

4. Meanwhile, make the sauce: In a microwaveable container, combine the garlic and stock. Heat on the highest setting for 2 minutes or until the garlic is soft enough to mash. Pour off and reserve the stock. Mash the garlic with a fork.

5. Discard all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the skillet, leaving the sediment behind. Return the skillet to medium-high heat. Add the wine and scrape the bottom of the pan. Reduce the wine by half. Stir in the stock, garlic, mustard, cream, and any juices on the bottom of the pork platter. Stir until smooth and thickened slightly. Taste for seasoning. Add more salt and pepper, if you like.

6. Return the chops to the pan. Turn them several times in the sauce to reheat. Serve at once.

Adapted from "Bruce Aidells's Complete Book of Pork"