This recipe was originally featured in The 30 Second Wine Advisor's FoodLetter on Thursday, Feb. 17, 2005.

Spuntatore di Maiale

INGREDIENTS: (Serves two)

2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons (30ml) olive oil
2 pork rib chops, bone on, about 3/4- to 1 inch thick
2 ounces Parmigiano Reggiano, cut into slivers or grated


1. Peel and smash the garlic cloves and saute them in the olive oil over high heat in a black iron skillet. When the garlic is aromatic and golden, remove and discard it.

2. Put the pork chops in the skillet and sear them in the garlic-scented oil, about 1 minute on each side. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue cooking, uncovered or partially covered, until they're just cooked through - about 10 to 15 minutes depending on their thickness. It's OK to leave pork a pale rosy-pink in the middle - really! But if you want to be on the safe side, check the temperature at their centers to ensure it has reached 155F (70C), and if the idea of slightly rare pork still makes you nervous, let it go to 165F (75C).

3. Season the chops with a little salt - don't overdo, as the cheese will add more saltiness - then scatter the slivered or grated Parmigiano on their tops, cover the skillet, and warm over medium low heat for another minute or two, just until the cheese melts.

This is an excellent pork dish for red-wine fanciers, as the cheese brings the chops up to meet heartier reds that might overwhelm the relative delicacy of the pork alone. It was excellent with the robust Southern Italian red featured in last week's Wine Advisor Premium Edition, the Cantine del Notaio 2000 "La Firma" Aglianico del Vulture. Just about any fruity-but-acidic Mediterranean-style red would do, though, or a rich but dry, full-bodied white like Southern Italy's Greco di Tufo or Fiano di Avellino.