French Friday: Pork Chops with Mustard and Cornichons
Because I have spent this week utterly unimpressed by food, drifting from toast to salad to sandwich with little passion and even less desire, it’s hard to imagine that it was only last week when I swooned over a pork chop. The entire experience of this dinner was worthy of a French Friday: I went to the fancy market and bought thick pork chops wrapped in butcher paper from a man in a paper hat. I selected a slim baguette with a crisp shell and airy insides. I visited the wine store and explained what we were eating — in great detail — and was paired with a truly heavenly accompaniment. I came home, turned on some blues, and set about making a dinner that was ready mere moments later.
In my experience, there aren’t a lot of recipes like this — ones that tap into your best vision of yourself, that are elegant, special, and ready in a flash, that make your dining companion think you have some unmatchably magic touch when you come into contact with a cast iron skillet and tongs. Perhaps I should spend less of my time making chili and more of my time seeking out food that elevates not just dinner itself, but (not to sound heavy handed) the way I feel about my life. Because there I was, on an ordinary day, making it all look so easy (and truly, it was), sitting down to the sort of supper that would be ideal if you learned Jacques Pepin were coming over in 20 minutes, or if you just feel that you deserve a fine chop, a simple sauce, and a cold glass of wine. And here I am, a week later, without a twinge of gastronomic interest in my stomach or fingers, still feeling great about that dinner.
More pork chop recipes:
Pork Chops with Mustard and Cornichons
adapted from Bon Appetit
2 tablespoons butter
2 bone-in pork chops, about 1-inch thick
2 teaspoons chopped fresh herbs, such as thyme or tarragon
1 large sliced shallot
2 tablespoons cup thinly sliced cornichons (gherkins)
1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
1/2 cupchicken broth
1/4 cup apple juice
Melt 1 tablespoons butter in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle chops with salt, pepper, and 1 teaspoon of the fresh herbs. Add chops to skillet. Cook until browned and cooked through, adjusting heat to medium if browning too quickly, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer to plate, and cover to keep warm.
Add shallots to same skillet and sauté for 2 minutes. Stir in remaining teaspoons of herb, cornichons, mustard, broth, and juice. Boil sauce until it thickens slightly, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Whisk in 1 tablespoons butter. Season sauce with salt and pepper. Transfer chops to plates and spoon sauce over top.