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Article posted: 2/20/2013 3:25 PM

Pan-Seared Spiced Pork Chops with Microwave Applesauce

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

1 teaspoon coriander seeds

1 whole star anise

1 stick (2 inches) cinnamon

4 double-cut bone-in pork chops (12 to 16 ounces each)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

3 tablespoons clarified butter

3 thin slices fresh ginger, smashed with the side of a knife

2 garlic cloves, smashed

2 sprigs fresh thyme

2 sprigs fresh sage

1 sprig fresh rosemary

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and roughly chopped

Heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Put the fennel and coriander seeds, star anise and cinnamon stick in a small skillet and toast over medium-low heat, swirling the pan, until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the spices to a mortar and pestle or spice grinder, and grind or pulse until coarsely ground. Or put the spices on a cutting board and smash with the bottom of a pan.

Season the pork on both sides with salt and pepper and rub the spice mixture evenly over the surface of the chops. Let stand for 10 minutes at room temperature.

Put the clarified butter, ginger, garlic, thyme, sage and rosemary in a very large skillet and heat over medium-high heat until the butter is rippling. Move the herbs to the side of the pan, add 2 of the chops, and sear until golden on the first side, about 4 minutes. Flip the chops and cook until light golden on the second side, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the chops to a plate and sear the remaining 2 chops on both sides.

Put the reserved chops into the skillet and add the 2 tablespoons butter to the pan. When it melts, baste the chops with the butter, using a large spoon, then transfer the pan to the oven. Roast, basting the chops several times, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chops reads 145 degrees, 20-25 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and let stand for 10 minutes before serving. The pork will continue to cook and the temperature will rise to around 150 degrees, for medium.

Meanwhile, put the apples in a medium microwaveable bowl (glass is best), add 1 tablespoon water, and cook on high in the microwave for 4 to 5 minutes, until very soft. Mash the apples with a fork or potato masher until smooth.

Serve the chops with the applesauce on the side.

Serves four.

"Try this at Home" by Richard Blais (2013 Clarkson Potter)

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