Pork chops are for fying, right? Or slathering with bbq sauce, huh? Nope. Not here. Grill them up quick like a bunny and top with a dollop of pesto (or tapenade) for a Dinner Now! that’s luscious enough for you and your friend, for the whole fam, or for company. What to do on the side? A couple of choices would be
- a. set up another saute or grill pan (or even the microwave) and cook up a bunch of asparagus in, oh, 2-3 minutes or
- b. roast a big pan of vegetables in the oven and eat off those for a couple of days
Need something more? Throw a couple of well-poked sweet potatoes whole into the microwave for 4-5 minutes (less per potato if you cook several) and let sit for a few minutes more. The heat will finish cooking them. Dust with pepper; no butter needed.
Option a, you’re eating in under 15 minutes. Option b, you’re looking at 30-40, but you’ve got your side fixed for tomorrow’s salmon or for that rotisserie chicken you couldn’t resist picking up at the market.
One cautionary note: try not to buy the uberskinny chops. Look for the big, thick babies when they’re on sale. I like the two-inchers, but anything over an inch will do. Just don’t overcook them.
Grilled Pork Chops Pesto with Choice of Sides serves 4
- 4 very thick bone-in, loin pork chops, seasoned very well with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Canola oil for brushing the indoor grill (for outdoor, brush the chops well)
- 1 c purchased pesto or tapenade
Heat stove-top grill to medium-high heat over medium heat. Brush with oil and place chops on the grill. Cook for 5 minutes or so without turning ( you want them to cook and get grill marks). Using tongs, turn chops and cook for another 5 minutes or so until well-browned. I like chops cooked to 150 F and then allowed to sit for about 5 minutes; a little pink is ok. If you’re unsure, look at this chart, which will give you instructions for taking the internal temperature of meat, poultry, etc, but will also provide a temperature guide for those who like things rare or well-done. Top each chop with a quarter cup of pesto or tapenade.
Grilled Asparagus serves 4
- 1 pound fresh asparagus, washed and well-trimmed (if you bend a stalk in your hand to break it, that’s the place to trim the bunch)
- Olive oil for brushing
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 fresh lemon
Heat large saute or grill pan to medium heat. Brush with oil and dust the pan well with salt and pepper. Place asparagus in pan and, watching closely, grill for about 5 or 6 minutes on each side. Turn and grill on the other side. Remove to serving platter or plates and squeeze lemon over all. Serve hot, warm, or cold.
Do this twice if you’d like some for tomorrow.
(Microwave method: Put a couple of tablespoons water in the bottom of a microwave-safe dish large enough to hold the asparagus in one layer or nearly that. Cover and cook at full power about 2 minutes. Remove from pan immediately, season with salt and pepper, and squeeze lemon over all.)
Roasted Vegetables serves 8 (Use the leftovers for tomorrow or the next day… or puree them for soup.)
- 5 carrots, peeled and cut into 1-2″ pieces
- 5 small parsnips, peeled and cut into 1″ pieces
- 3 small turnips, peeled, and cut into 1″ pieces
- 4 red potatoes, unpeeled, and quartered (1/8d if they’re large)
- 2 sweet potatoes, peeled, and cut into 1-2″ pieces
- 2 red onions, quartered and quartered again to make eighths
- 3-4T olive oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 3T rosemary
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. On a very large, rimmed baking sheet (or use two if needed), place vegetables. Drizzle oil over all and toss well. Dust with a good dose (at least 1 tsp salt; 1/2 t pepper) of salt and pepper and all of the rosemary. Toss well again and place pan(s) in oven. Bake about 30 minutes until fairly soft, stirring once or twice while baking. (Roasted vegetables shrink, so you’ll need more of them than if you sauteed or grilled them.)
Option: Add 1/2 # asparagus or summer squash in place of sweet pototatoes, adding them half-way through baking.