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Skillet-Barbecued Pork Chops

September 02, 2007

For the pork chops:

1/2 cup table salt

4 bone-in pork rib chops, 3/4 to 1 inch thick (8 to 10 ounces each), trimmed of excess fat

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon vegetable oil, divided

For the spice rub:

1 tablespoon paprika

1 tablespoon brown sugar

2 teaspoons ground coriander

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon black pepper

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For the sauce:

1/2 cup ketchup

3 tablespoons light or mild molasses

2 tablespoons grated onion (using the large holes on the grater)

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 teaspoon liquid smoke

To prepare pork chops, cut two slits about 2 inches apart through the fat and connective tissue along the side of each chop. This will prevent pork chops from buckling during cooking and keep them flat in the pan.

In a large bowl, dissolve salt in 2 quarts of water. Submerge the chops in brine, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare spice rub. In a small bowl, combine all ingredients. Measure 2 teaspoons of rub mixture into a medium bowl and set aside for use in sauce. Transfer remaining spice rub to a pie plate or large plate.

To make sauce, whisk together all ingredients in bowl with 2 teaspoons of reserved spice rub. Set aside.

To cook chops, remove them from brine and pat dry with paper towels. Coat both sides of chops with spice rub, pressing gently so the rub adheres. Pat the chops to remove excess rub. Discard excess rub.

Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a 12-inch heavy-bottomed nonstick skillet over medium heat until just smoking. Arrange the chops in the skillet in a pinwheel or interlocking formation (this helps them all fit).

Cook until charred in spots, 5 to 8 minutes. Flip chops and continue to cook until second side is browned and charred and center of chops register 130 degrees on instant-read thermometer, about 4 to 8 minutes.

Remove skillet from heat and transfer chops to a clean plate or baking sheet. Lightly brush the top side of each chop with 2 teaspoons of the sauce.

Wipe out skillet with paper towels and return to medium heat. Add remaining teaspoon of oil and heat until just smoking. Return chops to skillet, sauce-side down, and cook without moving until sauce has caramelized and charred in spots, about 1 minute.

While cooking, lightly brush top side of each chop with 2 teaspoons of sauce. Turn chops and cook until second side is charred and caramelized and the center of the chops register 140 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes.

Transfer chops back to plate or baking sheet, cover loosely with foil, and let rest 5 minutes. The internal temperature should rise to about 145 degrees.

Meanwhile, add remaining sauce to skillet and cook, scraping the bottom, until thickened to a ketchup-like consistency and reduced to 2/3 cup, about 3 minutes.

Brush each chop with 1 tablespoon of reduced sauce and serve immediately, passing remaining sauce at table.

Serves 4.

- Recipe from October 2007 issue of Cook's Illustrated

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