Pork chops are a lot like chicken breasts -- it's easy to get in the same old cooking rut with them. Variety is the spice of life and the kitchen, but ease of preparation is a crucial ingredient for the typical home cook, particularly when her schedule is filled from morning to night. So when you find a good selection of pork chops on sale at your favorite grocery store, buy them in bulk and freeze them for later. Defrost a few at a time and create something new.
For an Italian-style preparation, pound chops to about 1/3-inch thick. Bread them, then pan fry them for about six to eight minutes. Prepare your sides before cooking the pork. Lemon wedges, buttered pasta and a tomato-onion salad with creamy ranch dressing are quick sides to round out the meal.
South of the Border
Give your chops a Latin flair with mole, a distinctive sauce made from a base of chocolate, nuts and chile peppers, with various spices added. As odd as it sounds, it's delicious and not too spicy, and grilled pork chops dressed with mole are divine. Most grocery stores carry jars of mole in the Mexican-food section. Add a side of grilled vegetables prepared alongside the pork and warm tortillas. If you're out of fuel for the grill, skip the mole and toss in a can of stewed tomatoes and green chiles, pinto beans, rice and corn with sauteed chops and cook until the rice is ready.
Cuban flavors are very different from Mexican flavors, but include many of the same ingredients, such as rice, beans and tomatoes. Make a Cuban-inspired pork chop dinner the same way you do the Mexican pork chops. Instead of stewed tomatoes and chiles, though, add only stewed tomatoes, chile sauce and black beans. Serve with a side of lemon wedges and crusty bread.
Good Old U.S.A.
Give a standard American dinner of pork chops and applesauce some new life. Prepare your chops, but top them with sliced apples simmered in a bath of sugar, cinnamon and butter. Cook the apples the night or weekend before and your house will smell like the holidays for hours. Double the recipe and use the reserved apples to top a scoop of plain vanilla ice cream or your kids' breakfast cereal or yogurt. The apples also freeze well and are great to have on hand when unexpected company or the neighborhood kids descend upon your kitchen.
- "Food and Wine": Crispy Pork Milanese; Melissa Clark
- Pork Be Inspired: Mexican Mole Pork Chops
- "The New York Times Cookbook"; Craig Claiborne; New York; 1990
Kristie Brown is a publisher, writer and editor. She has contributed to magazines, textbooks and online publications. Brown holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Texas at Austin.