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Dinner Tonight: Thyme-Rubbed Pork Chops with Pesto

Considering how far he's come, it's pretty entertaining to flip through Jamie Oliver's very first cookbook, The Naked Chef. For one, he looks about 14 years old on the cover. But what's also infectious, and apparent early on, is his energy and enthusiasm for great ingredients. His slap-dash cooking style does all it can to free you from quantities and encourage you to think about flavors instead. He succeeds with bold, classic elements combined in new ways, like this recipe that kicks off the meat section: thick-cut bone-in pork chops with a fragrant pesto.

A thick-cut pork chop (especially one with plenty of marbling) is a wonder by itself, but it's even better after a quick bath in Oliver's garlic, thyme, and lemon zest marinade, which gives it an herby-citrus quality and complements the caramelized exterior of the pork. That herbiness only continues with the pesto, made classically with pine nuts and good Parmesan cheese but also with a hit of lemon juice to enhance the basil's flavor. When it comes to weeknight cooking and big flavors, recipes like this are the idea.

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