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 Simplicity, Italian style The Shakers had nothing on the Italians when it comes to this simple gift of pork rib chops.
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Simplicity, Italian style

If you ever thought Italian food was just about red sauce and pasta, read on. In fact, America's Shakers had nothing on the Italians when it comes to the gift of simplicity. Bold and direct flavors, put together in combinations that showcases but never mutes their natural goodness: That's Italian, whether you use tomatoes or whether you don't.

Let's move briskly along to today's recipe as a case in point. Translated in language but authentic Italian in style, it comes direct from the kitchens at, the informative food-and-wine Website of the Italian Trade Commission's offices in New York. This site is well worth browsing for in-depth information about Italian wine as well as a good, quick overview of Italian food and cooking, including several dozen authentic recipes - like this one - that demonstrate the joys of real Italian regional cookery.

You'll find no tomatoes in this simple dish, a feast of thick pork chops quickly skillet-cooked with garlic, and a light blanket of Parmigiano added in the last few moments of cooking. Its Italian name, Spuntatore di Maiale, seems to be used interchangeably for pork spareribs and pork rib chops ... in the case of this recipe, the latter.

Enjoy! Mangia!

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.

Want a copy that's easy to use in the kitchen? You'll find a simple, plain-text version of these recipes, suitable for printing, online at

If you have questions, comments or ideas to share about this recipe or food and cookery in general, you're welcome to drop by our Food Lovers' Discussion Group, where I've posted this article as a new topic, "FoodLetter: Simplicity, Italian style"

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Last Week's FoodLetter and Archives

Last week's Wine Advisor Foodletter: Who likes liver? (Feb. 10)

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Thursday, Feb. 17, 2005
Copyright 2005 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.

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