Thick pork chops with rosemary, fennel seeds and pears stay...

Thick pork chops with rosemary, fennel seeds and pears stay tender and juicy using this method. (January 2022) Credit: Marge Perry

Here’s the conundrum about cooking a thick pork chop: in order to cook it on the stove all the way through to a safe internal temperature (145 degrees), the outside will be burned to smithereens. On the other hand, if you bake it in the oven, it will have a sort of placid, beige, and frankly unappealing exterior.

To get a delicious, savory browned crust and not undercook a thick pork chop, start it on the stove and finish it in the oven. (This applies to just about all thick cuts of meat.) You will need a cast iron or other oven-worthy skillet. (If you don’t have a skillet that can withstand an oven at 425 degrees, transfer the seared chops to a sheet pan to finish them in the oven.)

Rosemary-Fennel Pork Chops with Pears

1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped (plus more for garnish)

½ + ¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

4 (1 to 1/14-inch) pork chops

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 pears, each cut lengthwise in 16 wedges

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

2. Place the fennel seeds under a small piece of plastic wrap and crush with the handle of your knife or a can. Combine the fennel with the rosemary, ½ teaspoon of the salt and the pepper. Sprinkle on the entire surface of the pork chops.

3. Toss the pears with the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt.

4. Heat the oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium high. Add the chops and cook until they readily release from the pan surface and the underside is golden brown, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate and add the pears to the skillet. Cook 3 minutes without moving until slightly browned. Push the pears to the sides and return the chops to the skillet with the browned side facing up. Roast in the oven until an instant read meat thermometer inserted horizontally into the center of a chop registers 145 degrees, about 5-6 minutes. Serve the chops surrounded by the pears.

Makes 4 servings