Sunday Dinner Act 3: Pork Chops with Pizzazz

Now, something for all you carnivores in the crowd… Sunday dinner chez moi almost always includes a meat course. I’ve developed a technique for pork chops and chicken that I call Low Fat, High Flavour. It’s fast and easy, and very adaptable to the barbecue. It’s a combination of cooking technique (searing, then roasting) and high flavour sauces that make it easy to provide great taste with little fat.

An advantage of the searing/baking process is that the chops are beautifully browned on the stove, and finishing them in the oven doesn’t take as much babysitting as on top of the stove. This frees you up to do other things like have a glass of wine and check your e-mail. Okay, you’re more likely to be setting the table and finishing the vegetables and salad, but we all need something to dream about.

I have numerous variations on this theme, but these days I’ve been pretty committed to the one I used last Sunday.

Pork Chops with Lime, Red Chile & Soy Sauce

  • 2 pork loin chops, bone in, about 3/4 inch thick
  • 1 or 2 limes, washed
  • red chile paste
  • low-sodium soy sauce
  • optional: fresh sage

How to Prepare:  Start by pre-heating the oven to 350, then prepare the sauce for the pork chops. Squeeze the lime into a small bowl. You’re looking for about 1-1/2 to 2 tablespoons here, so if your lime is stingy you may need more than one. Add  a teaspoon or two of Roasted Red Chile Paste, and about 2 tablespoons of low sodium soy sauce. I use a fork to stir it all together.

Just an aside about the chile paste. The brand I use is Thai Kitchen (not to promote any particular brand, but so my kids can make their chops taste just like Mum’s). While it is actually rather high in fat and sodium  (only 1 tbsp = 5% & 9% daily value, respectively), you use very little for two servings and the sauce is more of a marinade. I discovered this about 5 years ago, and have kept it in my pantry ever since. It comes in cute little jars that I’ve even put in my daughters’ Christmas stockings (hey, how’s that for originality?).

(Disclaimer Update: I have no association with Thai Kitchen.)

Heat a skillet pan on the stovetop and add 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, or another healthy oil. When hot, add the chops (you should hear the sizzle) and sear until the bottom is nicely caramelized. Grind pepper onto the top and turn over. Shut the burner off and let the other side sear a bit. (Note, if your pan cannot go into the oven, transfer the chops into an ovenproof baking dish). Being careful of any splattering, add about 1/3 cup water to the pan (the purpose of this is to prevent the sauce from cooking down too quickly, and to have enough moisture in the pan for the rest of the cooking process). Pour the sauce over the chops and then grind some pepper over.

Ready for the oven and looking good already

If you’d like to add some extra flair, add the squeezed lime halves and/or some torn fresh sage. Bake for approximately 30 minutes, or until the juices run clear.

This recipe produces a flavourful, moist pork chop that’s a welcome addition to the Sunday dinner plate. Actually, it’s a quick cook any night of the week. At risk of sounding immodest, there have been raves and requests for seconds.

Out of the oven and ready for the plate

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