If It's Pork Tonight, One of These Easy Recipes Will Make It Extra Special
If you're getting the eye roll at dinnertime when you announce it's baked pork chop night, it might be time to switch things up. That doesn't mean you have to cut pork chops from the rotation or create a fancy dish to keep your kids happy. With different spices and cooking techniques, you can turn your plain old pork chops into something special without having to spend hours you don't have in the kitchen.
1. Crispy Coated Pork Cutlet
If your kids like chicken cutlets, they're going to love pork cutlets. Like the chicken version, you can turn these cutlets into a different dish almost every night. Pound your pork with soft mallet until it's 1/2-inch thick. Dip your thin cutlet in flour, then egg whites, then panko breadcrumbs. In a medium skillet, heat a healthy portion of oil, about 2 tablespoons, until hot over medium-high heat, then add your cutlets and cook for 2 minutes on each side. After you have your cutlets cooked, you can dress them up with tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese, capers and fresh lemon juice, or a smothering of brown gravy. Or serve them simply, with applesauce.
2. Crock-Pot Pork Chops
The Crock-Pot is the working mom's sous chef. It does everything but the shopping. You can use the Crock-Pot to make delicious, moist pork chops. For the most flavor, use bone-in pork chops. Place your pork chops on the bottom of your Crock-Pot, top with chunky cut carrots, quartered red potatoes and sliced onions. Pour 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar over your meat and veggies and cook on low heat for 5 hours. If you prefer your chops firm, cook them for only 2 hours. It's not necessary, but brining the pork chops before cooking may help prevent overcooking. To brine, soak your pork chops for at least 4 hours in water mixed with kosher salt and peppercorns.
3. Sweet and Sour Pork Chops
No need for Chinese take-out after you add these sweet and sour pork chops to your menu. This dish requires two cooking techniques, but using both your stove and oven helps decrease cooking time. First, heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat and add butter. When the butter is melted, add the bone-in pork chops and cook for 1 minute on each side to sear. Then, place in a preheated 400-degree Fahrenheit oven and continue to cook for 8 to 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan over medium heat, mix 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, 2 teaspoons minced garlic, 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring the sauce to a boil, then turn the heat to low and simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes. Place each pork chop on a plate and spoon on the sauce.
4. Leftover Pork and Bean Soup
If you have any of your baked pork chops left in the fridge, use them to make a yummy soup. In a dutch oven, cook chopped onions, celery and garlic in oil over medium heat until soft, and season with salt and pepper. Add 1 cup of white wine, 4 cups of chicken broth, an 8-ounce can of diced tomatoes, a 16-ounce can of white beans and your cooked pork chops cut into strips. Cook for 15 minutes, and then add fresh baby spinach leaves and cook for another 5 minutes or until spinach is soft and wilted. Serve this soup with crusty bread for a complete meal. Though this soup makes good use of leftovers, you can easily cook a few pork chops on the stove or in the oven first and then add them to the soup.
5. Fall-Inspired Boneless Pork Chops
Pork chops taste delicious when dipped in applesauce. Why not step it up a notch and create a pork and apple dish that's so good you'll never be able to go back to applesauce? In a medium skillet, melt butter over medium heat, add your boneless pork chops and cook 4 to 5 minutes on each side. In the same pan, add more butter and cook sliced, unpeeled Granny Smith apples, unpeeled sliced pears, brown sugar, cinnamon and walnuts until the fruit is soft, about 5 to 10 minutes. Serve the fruit and nut mixture over the pork chops. Spoon some of the butter sauce from the pan over your meat. Plain rice goes nicely with this sweet pork dish.
6. Spicy Pork Tacos
It doesn't have to be Tuesday to have tacos, but if it is Tuesday, these tacos make a good choice. Cut boneless pork chops into chunks. In a medium skillet, heat oil over medium heat, add the pork and cook until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Then, add your favorite taco seasoning mix and a cup of water. Bring to a boil and cook for another 5 minutes. Stuff your pork meat into tortillas and top with chopped tomatoes, lettuce and pepper jack cheese. It's easy to use a taco seasoning mix, but you can easily make your own with seasonings you have in the cupboard, including chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, red pepper flakes, cumin, kosher salt and pepper. Two tablespoons of homemade taco seasoning is equal to 1 packet of taco seasoning.
Jill Corleone is a registered dietitian and health coach who has been writing and sharing her love of food, nutrition and health with anyone who'll listen for almost 20 years. Her work has been featured on the Huffington Post and Diabetes Self-Management.