THE SECRET weapons in this quick dinner are the French technique called deglazing, a quick way to make a simple sauce, and the use of a fresh herb to give the vegetables added appeal. There are options along the way that can save time or add a few touches of glamour. MENU FOR TWO PorkChops With Mustard Sauce New Potatoes Julienne of Carrots Optional Green Salad Cheese With Fruit Beaujolasi Wine Recipe included
Staples on hand: Butter, oil, vermouth, Dijon-style mustard, chicken broth, salt and pepper, crackers for cheese.
Shopping list: 3 or 4 pork chops, 1 bunch scallions or shallots, 1/2 pint heavy cream, 2 large or 4 small new potatoes, 1 bunch or package carrots, 1 bunch fresh dill or parsley, 1/3-to 1/2- pound piece Havarti or Fontina cheese, 1 bunch grapes, 2 apples.
Optional: Salad greens, 1 jar corn or pickle relish. PORK CHOPS WITH MUSTARD SAUCE (2 servings) 3 or 4 pork chops, trimmed of excess fat 2 tablespoons oil Salt and freshly ground pepper 1/4 cup chopped scallions or shallots 1/2 cup dry vermouth 1/2 cup chicken broth 1/2 cup heavy cream 1 to 2 teaspoons Dijon-style mustard
Heat oil in a heavy frying pan. Add chops and sear on both sides, then season with salt and pepper. Remove chops and pour off most of fat. Add scallions and cook until they soften.
Pour vermouth into pan and bring to a boil. Scrape bottom to loosen any brown bits (this is the deglazing step), then return chops and add broth. Bring to a simmer, cover pan and cook until chops are cooked through, about 15 minutes.
Remoe chops and keep warm. Turn heat to high and boil down pan juices by half. Add cream and boil until sauce reduces slightly and thickens. Stir in mustard to taste and season with salt and pepper. Pour over chops and serve.
Plan of attack: Begin the chops in the frying pan, while heating water in a deep saucepan. (You can save time here by using a steamer instead of boiling the vegetables; you'll need less water). Chop the scallions, wash the potatoes and cut them into chunks. Don't peel them. Peel 2 or 3 carrots. Tend to step two of the pork chop recipe.
Once the pan is covered, place potatoes in (or over) boiling water in saucepan. Cover and cook for 15 minutes. Place wine in refrigerator to chill slightly. Cut carrots in half lengthwise, then into 3 or 4 pieces, then cut the pieces into matchsticks. Add to potatoes for final 7 minutes of cooking. Chop dill or parsley (2 or 3 tablespoons will be plenty), wash fruit and arrange on a plate with cheese. If you want to serve a salad, wash the greens now, but don't prepare the salad until after the main course. A short break will be welcome. You can change plates and make this into a multi-course meal.
Finish chops' sauce, drain vegetables and arrange on plates. Sprinkle dill over vegetables or parsley over everything. Open wine. Eat. Don't forget to serve the cheese.
Notes: Calorie-watchers may want to skip the sauce, or the vermouth. Simply double the amount of broth and serve the pork chops once they are cooked with either a spoonful or two of the cooking juice or mustard and the optional relish as condiments. You could also spoon a bit of the juice over the vegetables, or flavor them with a small amount of butter. For the wine choose a 1978 Beaujolais Villages, a 1978 Gamay from a California producer such as Mirassou or Mondavi or a blended red such as The Monterey Vineyard's Classic Red or Fetzer's Premium Red.