A simple dusting of paprika and a bit of salt give pork chops a nice little kick of flavor with minimal effort. Dedicated locavores should also know that paprika pairs particularly well with the more intense flavor of pastured pork.
Different types of paprika will give the chops different flavor, so feel free to experiment with hot, mild, bittersweet, and even smoked paprika to mix things up. A nice addition to this recipe is the use of smoked paprika (pimenton ahumado), a favorite Spanish spice made from mild chiles dried by smoking for an intense and delicious smoked flavor; it adds a subtle smoky note without a smoker!
- 4 pork chops
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
- Rinse the pork chops and pat them thoroughly dry with paper towels.
- In a small bowl combine the paprika, salt, and pepper.
- Sprinkle both sides of all the pork chops evenly with the spice mixture. Set aside the chops while you prepare the pan.
- Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Once the surface of the pan is hot, add the oil and heat until the oil shimmers. Add the pork chops – they should make a bright sizzling sound immediately upon touching the pan; if they don't, take them out and let the pan and oil get a bit hotter. Reduce the heat to medium and cook the chops, undisturbed, until they're well browned and they release from the pan of their own accord, about 4 minutes. Turn and repeat on the other side.
- Remove the chops from pan and let sit, covered loosely with foil, for about 10 minutes. Serve hot.
Do not underestimate the importance of heating the pan and then heating the oil before adding the pork chops. That immediate heat will help the pork chops start to brown right away, it will also help avoid hot spots on the pan. That said, you don't want to have the pan too hot and burn the chops, which is why you don't want to heat the pan over high heat—a slower heating up of the pan will create the even heat needed to cook the chops perfectly. Still not convinced? Know that pre-heating the pan and heating up the oil will make clean-up as easy as can be!