4 (1 1/4 to 1 1/2-inch) thick center-cut loin pork chops, either rib or T-bone, trimmed
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons paprika, preferably Hungarian
1 tablespoons chile powder, preferably Gebhardt
1 to 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper (optional)
2 tablespoons granulated garlic, or garlic powder
2 tablespoons light or dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon dry mustard, preferably Colman's
1 teaspoon ground sage
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 cup salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground pepper
2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
1/2 cup dry white wine or dry vermouth
1/2 cup chicken or beef stock
1 teaspoon chopped fresh herbs, such as sage, rosemary, thyme, savory, or dill (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Make rub: mix all ingredients together in a small bowl or jar (You can store it for a couple of months in a tightly sealed jar.)
Coat the chops generously with spice rub and let marinate for up to 2 hours at room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator. Let refrigerated meat come to room temperature before cooking. Scrape off any excess rub and pat the chops dry.
In a large, heavy skillet, heat the oil over high heat. When the pan is hot enough to sear the chops but not burn them, add the chops. They should make a gentle hissing sound when they hit the pan, not an explosive sputter. Adjust the heat if the pan seems too hot or remove the pan from the heat for 30 seconds or so (count this time as part of the overall cooking time). Sear the chops on one side for 1 to 2 minutes, or until beginning to brown lightly. Turn the chops over and sear for 1 minute more.
Reduce the heat so that the chops continue to sizzle -- do not turn the heat so low that there are no more sizzling sounds (if the heat is too low, the chops will sweat and juices will exude from the meat and leave it dry. Cover the pan and cook for 3 to 4 more minutes more on the other side. The chops are done when the meat is firm but not hard when pressed with a finger. Better still, test them with an instant-read thermometer -- the meat should register 145 to 155 degrees and will still be acceptable at 160 degrees. For the juiciest results, remove the chops from the pan when they register 145 degrees, cover loosely with foil, and let them rest for 5 minutes or so before serving, to stabilize the juices.
To make the pan sauce: pour off all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the pan, leaving any meat juices. Adjust the heat to medium and add garlic. Stir, cook for 30 seconds, then add remaining ingredients, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Bring the sauce to a boil and reduce it over high heat until it just turns syrupy. Put the pork chops back into the pan and turn them several times in the sauce to transfer the flavors -- this should take no more than 30 seconds. Serve chops with sauce
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