Simple dinner tonight, pork chops pan-grilled in a big iron skillet, closely based on a simple, Frenchified recipe from Pierre Franey's 60 Minute Gourmet.

This book's worth mentioning twice. Although I don't use them much any more, I cooked my way through it (and "More 60-Minute Gourmet") at a critical point in my kitchen-skills development, and incorporated his fundamental technique of keeping things simple and organized to minimize work time into my standard procedure. Except when I'm consciously going for a complicated hobby-style dinner, I almost never spend more than 60 minutes in the kitchen making dinner any more.

So, with a salute to Pierre, who died in 1996, here's my rendition of his pork-chop saute:

Heat a skosh of good olive oil in a large, black-iron skillet until it's sizzling, then slap in four center-cut pork chops (not too thick, maybe 1/2-inch - I picked a pack that weighed a total of about 1 1/2 pounds including the bones). Sear on both sides, and continue cooking over high heat, turning occasionally, until they're cooked and well-browned, a total of about 15 to 20 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste toward the end of cooking.

Remove the chops to a hot plate and keep warm while you make a quick sauce:

Pour off most of the fat from the pan, and over medium heat, stir in 1/4 cup chopped onion and one or two minced garlic cloves; stir until it starts to brown, using a drop or two of water if necessary to keep things going. Stir in 4 tablespoons white wine and 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar, and cook, stirring, until the liquid is largely reduced and syrupy. Add 1/2 cup strong chicken broth and 1 tablespoon tomato sauce, and cook for another minute or two. Thicken with 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with a small amount of water, then stir in 1/2 tablespoon Dijon (or Gulden's Spicy Brown) mustard. Pour the sauce over the pork chops and serve. Mashed potatoes (or, in this case, a blend of mashed potatoes and turnips) makes an outstanding accompaniment, and a green salad on the side makes it a meal.