During the past month, we have had three different sets of out-of-town company. I love entertaining guests, but cooking three meals a day for a group can be a challenge. As a result, I've adopted the philosophy that during such visits meals should not require so much time that I miss out on talking and relaxing with our friends.
For this spring's round of visitors, I decided to choose main courses that can be completely cooked in advance and need only be reheated at serving time. These fork-tender pork chops fall into that genre. They are based on a recipe for a pork stew created by the late Simone (Simca) Beck, a French cooking teacher and author extraordinaire.
Simmered Pork Chops
6 boneless, center-cut pork chops, about 1 inch thick, trimmed of excess fat (total 2 to 2 1 / 4 pounds)
salt, freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped (1 1/2 cups)
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 -inch dice
1 large sweet red pepper, stem, membranes, seeds removed, and pepper cut into 1-inch squares
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 / 4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 sprigs flat-leaf parsley, plus 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped parsley for garnish
1 (28-ounce) can Italian-style tomatoes, drained and coarsely chopped
4 cups reduced-sodium chicken stock
1/2 cup dry white wine
Pat pork chops dry with paper towels, then salt and pepper them generously on both sides. Heat oil in large, heavy, nonreactive skillet over medium heat until hot. Add chops and saute until browned well, about 3 minutes per side. Remove chops to drain on paper towels.
Add onion, carrots and sweet red pepper to skillet and cook, stirring, until vegetables are softened slightly, 4 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook and stir 1 minute more. Add basil, curry powder, red pepper flakes, parsley sprigs, tomatoes, stock and wine. Return chops to skillet. Bring mixture to a simmer. Lower heat and cook, covered, until meat is fork-tender, about 1 hour and 20 minutes. (Pork chops can be prepared 2 days ahead to this point. Cool, cover and refrigerate. Reheat when needed.)
Remove lid, bring mixture to a simmer and cook another 10 to 15 minutes until liquids are reduced to a slightly thicker, more saucelike consistency. Taste sauce and season with additional salt and pepper if needed. Discard parsley sprigs.
To serve, arrange chops on serving platter and nap with sauce. Sprinkle with 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped parsley. Makes 6 servings.