It's really useful to have a few recipes in your back pocket for those nights when you don't feel like cooking an elaborate dinner, but you're craving the goodness of a home-cooked meal. One of the easiest and quickest meats to cook is a pork chop. Toss a few aromatics together and slather the mixture across the chops; a gorgeous piece of protein is ready for primetime in just a few minutes. Or, if you plan ahead, you can do the slathering in the morning and have an even more succulent dish by evening.
If you have a grill pan, this is a great time to use it. But if not, simply cook the pork in a heavy skillet such as cast iron.
What doesn't complement a pork chop? I love chops over polenta, or a bed of mashed sweet potatoes, but the truth is that I usually just pair this dish with whatever leftovers are in the refrigerator.
Easy Rosemary-Rubbed Pork Chops
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon chopped rosemary
1 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 pork loin chops (about 3/4 pound each)
2 teaspoons olive oil
Combine the brown sugar, rosemary, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Rub mixture all over chops. Let spices penetrate meat for a few minutes before cooking. If there's time, cover and put in refrigerator for a few hours before cooking.
If chops have been refrigerated, remove them from refrigerator and let the chill dissipate for 10 to 15 minutes.
Warm a grill pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil and swirl to coat the pan. Lay the pork chops in the pan to cook. Cook for 6 minutes, then flip the pork chop. Cook for 6 more minutes and then begin checking for doneness. The pork chop is done when the interior registers at least 145°F with an instant-read thermometer. A 1-inch thick chop will be done (medium-rare) in about 12 minutes total; cook an extra minute or two per side if you prefer your chops more well-done. Bone-in chops will also take a few extra minutes to cook.
Place the pork chops on a plate and pour the pan juices over the top. Tent loosely with foil, and let rest a few minutes before serving.
• For the best pork chops, cook and eat the chops on the same day or the next day after you buy them. If you can afford it, buy organic or antibiotic-free meat from as small and local a farmer as possible.
This post and recipe have been updated. Originally published June 2009.