Searing pork chops and finishing them in the oven serves two purposes: convenience and caramelizing. Searing caramelizes sugars, which deepens their flavor and creates a golden-brown appearance. The golden-brown appearance results from a Maillard reaction, a process that essentially converts amino acids to simple sugars and caramelizes them. If you use a cast-iron skillet or a pan without a nonstick coating you can conveniently place it directly in a heated oven after searing, which reduces overall preparation time.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Coat a cast-iron pan with 2 tbsp. of a vegetable oil that has a relatively high smoke point. These include peanut, canola and olive oils. Place the pan on the stove.
Adjust the heat to high. Heat the oil until it shimmers, an indication it's approaching its smoke point. This takes approximately five minutes.
Pat the pork chops dry with a paper towel and season them to taste. Moisture on the surface of the pork chops creates steam, which inhibits browning.
Set the pork chops presentation-side down in the pan. "Presentation side" refers to the side of the pork chop that will face upward on the plate, or the side you want the guests to see first when they receive their food.
Sear the pork chops until they have a golden-brown color and turn over. It takes about 1 1/2 minutes for pork to turn golden brown and caramelize.
Turn the pork chops over and continue searing them until golden brown, approximately 1 1/2 minutes. Place the cast-iron pan in the oven.
Bake the pork chops for 30 minutes or until they have an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit.