Question: Why does sophisticated food always have to be complicated? Answer: Trick question; it doesn't.
Case in point, these pork chops. You quickly sear the chops up, and finish by making a rich, creamy, leek pan sauce in the same skillet you used to brown the chops in. The seared chops then finish cooking in the sauce, and you have a one-dish meal that you might be pleased to have served up to you at a restaurant.
If you don't have fresh rosemary or thyme, use half the dried amount of each. And if there is a border of fat on the chops, use a knife to score it (cut vertical lines across the sides of the fat, without cutting into the meat itself) so the chops stay nice and flat as they cook. When you sear meat, try to avoid moving it around and flipping it frequently, which prevents that great caramelized crust from forming. Peek when you need to, but don't keep fussing around with it.
Madeira is a slightly sweet, fortified wine that keeps for months and months once opened, so don't worry if you can't use up the bottle right away.
Serve this dish with mashed potatoes, rice, or a grain salad, and a fluffy pile of lettuce dressed with a punchy vinaigrette to play off the creamy sauce.
PAN SEARED PORK CHOPS WITH MADEIRA AND LEEK CREAM SAUCE
Start to finish: 25 minutes
4 large, bone-in, 1-inch thick pork chops (about 3 pounds total)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 shallots, minced
1 cup sliced leeks (white and light green parts only), well rinsed
1/4 cup Madeira wine
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves
1 cup chicken broth
3/4 cup heavy cream
Hot cooked mashed potatoes, rice, quinoa or other grains to serve
Chopped freshly parsley to garnish (optional)
Bring the pork chops to room temperature and season generously with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large pan over medium-high heat and sear the chops without moving them until browned on both sides, about 3 minutes on each side (they will not be fully cooked, but still pink in the middle). Transfer the pork chops to a plate, and tent with foil to keep warm.
Reduce the heat to medium-low, and add the shallots and leeks to the pan. Saute for 10 minutes until they are tender and golden brown. Turn the heat back up to medium-high, add the Madeira, thyme and rosemary, and scrape to release any bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the chicken broth and cream and bring to a simmer, then return the pork chops to the pan, nestling them into the sauce among the leeks, and continue to simmer until the pork is just cooked through, with a hint of pink in the middle, to an internal temperature of 145 F, about 3 more minutes. The sauce will have reduced and thickened a bit.
Let the chops sit in the sauce for a couple of minutes off of the heat. Serve them with the starch of your choice, with the leek sauce ladled over the top of the pork. Finish with a sprinkle of parsley, if desired.
Nutrition information per serving: 655 calories; 378 calories from fat; 42 g fat (20 g saturated; 1 g trans fats); 213 mg cholesterol; 238 mg sodium; 8 g carbohydrate; 1 g fiber; 4 g sugar; 55 g protein.
Katie Workman has written two cookbooks focused on easy, family-friendly cooking, "Dinner Solved!" and "The Mom 100 Cookbook." She blogs at http://www.themom100.com/about-katie-workman/