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Dinner Tonight: Pork Chops with 'Magic Dust'

[Photograph: Blake Royer]

If you're done much research in the realm of barbecue, you may have come across a spice mixture, credited to the great barbecue pitmaster Mike Mills, known as "magic dust." It is a marvelous, intoxicating mix of spices that can be used as a dry rub not only on a rack of ribs for smoking, but just about any cut of meat (or even sprinkled over vegetables), making it a handy mix to have around at all times. I always make up a big batch and use it regularly, which is how I found myself with a gorgeous, marbled, thick-cut pork chop and the inspiration for an easy way to dress it up.

The main flavors in Magic Dust are cumin and mustard powder, which give it the pungency and unique spiciness it's famous for (the cayenne, chili powder, and black pepper help, too). A little sugar ensures extra caramelization, and paprika brings the deep red color. If you have time, rub this on the pork chops in the morning to really infuse the flavor; but if you're rushed (like I was) you'll still be amazed at the depth of flavor this provides. It's famous for a reason.

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