Lesson #61: Mariachi Pork Chops

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Low Carb Cooking 101

My mother, rest her soul, had a phobia about pork. She was absolutely certain that if she did not incinerate it until it looked like an old, discarded boot we would all get trichinosis and die. So she did what she was supposed to do – PROTECTED HER FAMILY – and happily cremated pork throughout her life.

I never liked pork much as a child.

And, once I was an adult, my mother could never understand why she liked my pork chops better than her own. I explained over and over that I baked my chops for 35 to 40 minutes, while she baked hers for an hour and a half. For an intelligent woman, she had a dead spot in her brain where pork was concerned.

Fortunately, modern technology and advanced animal husbandry and made the dangers of trichinosis very slight. That does not mean that we should eat raw or rare pork products, but we no longer need to feel obligated to cook pork until it is dry as dust (and just as tasty).

Tonight’s pork chops can either be grilled or broiled. It’s entirely your choice. Some people like to grill out and some don’t. But whichever you decide, don’t overcook the pork chops! Please! You’ll be much happier with the results if you aim for medium-well done rather than well done. Trust me.

Here’s this evening’s menu:

  • Mariachi Pork Chops
  • Stir Fried Summer Vegetables
  • Mexican Cole Slaw

Here’s the shopping list for the meal. You may very well already have some of these things on hand:

  • 8 loin or rib pork chops, about 1/2-inch thick (about 2 pounds)
  • butter
  • 1 large clove garlic, finely chopped, or 1/2 tablespoon jarred minced garlic
  • 1 large sweet onion
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 yellow or orange bell pepper
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 medium zucchini squash
  • 2 yellow crookneck squash
  • 1 1-pound bag shredded cole slaw vegetables
  • Sunkist Almond Accents Ranch Style flavored sliced almonds
  • 4 green onions
  • olive oil
  • lime juice
  • ranch salad dressing
  • mayonnaise
  • celery seed
  • paprika
  • chili powder
  • ground cumin
  • cayenne pepper
  • onion powder
  • salt
  • pepper

Here’s the game plan:

I like to get the prep work for a meal done as early as possible, so either the night or morning before you plan to serve the meal prepare the vegetables for the stir fry. Place the prepared vegetables in Zip Lock bags in the refrigerator until just before you’re ready to serve the meal.

After you’ve prepared the vegetables, make the cole slaw according to the recipe instructions. Cover it with plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve it.

Rub the pork chops with the spice rub according to the recipe directions, cover them, and place them in the refrigerator.

About half an hour before you plan to eat, preheat the grill or broiler and set the table. Take the chops out of the refrigerator and cook them according to the recipe instructions.

While the chops are cooking, stir fry the vegetables until they are just crisp tender.

Place the pork chops, stir-fried vegetables, and cole slaw on the dinner plates and sit down to a well-deserved, relaxing meal.

And, finally, here’s the recipes:

Mariachi Pork Chops

  • 8 loin or rib pork chops, about 1/2-inch thick (about 2 pounds)
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • teaspoon lime juice
  • 1 large clove garlic, finely chopped, or 1/2 tablespoon jarred minced garlic

Combine the chili powder, cumin, cayenne pepper, salt, onion powder, line juice, and chopped or mined garlic in a small bowl. Whisk the ingredients with a fork to combine them thoroughly.

Rinse the pork chops and pat them dry with a paper towel. Rub both sides of each chop with the seasoning mixture. Place the chops in a glass baking dish and cover them tightly with plastic wrap. Put them in the refrigerator for at least an hour to let the flavors of the spice rub blend together and penetrate the meat.

To grill the chops, preheat the grill, then place the chops 4 to 6 inches over the heat and grill them for 10 to 12 minutes, turning the chops frequently. Watch them closely; when they are done they should be just slightly pink when cut near the bone. Do not overcook them or they’ll be tough and dry.

To broil the chops, preheat the broiler. Place the chops on a broiler pan 4 to 6 inches from the heating element of your oven and broil them for 4 to five minutes on each side, turning them once. Watch them closely; when the chops are done they should be just slightly pink when cut neat the bone. Do not overcook them or they’ll be tough and dry.

Serve immediately.

Serves 4, more if there are children who only want 1 chop.

***Note: Slice leftovers into thin strips to reheat and add to main dish salads.

Stir Fried Summer Vegetables

  • 1 large sweet onion, peeled, quartered, and separated into rings
  • 1 red bell pepper, cleaned and sliced into thin strips
  • 1 yellow or orange bell pepper, cleaned and sliced into thin strips
  • 1 green bell pepper, cleaned and sliced into thin strips
  • 1 medium zucchini squash, trimmed and cut into thin strips
  • 2 yellow crookneck squash, trimmed and cut into then strips
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • salt (to taste)
  • pepper (to taste)

Use a large wok or frying pan to stir fry the vegetables. Place the pan over medium high heat and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to it.

When the oil is hot, add the onion and stir fry for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the bell peppers and stir fry an additional 2 to 3 minutes. Add the zucchini and crookneck squashes and stir fry until they are just crisp tender, about 5 to 6 minutes.

Remove the vegetables from the heat and drain any excess olive oil from the skillet. Add the 2 tablespoons of butter to the skillet and toss it with the vegetables to melt the butter and evenly coat the vegetables.

Add salt and pepper to taste now, or let people do that for themselves at the table.

Serve immediately.

Serves 4 to 6.

***Note: Leftover vegetables are good when reheated and added to main dish salads.

Home On The Range Cole Slaw

  • 1 1-pound bag shredded cole slaw vegetables
  • 1/2 cup Sunkist Almond Accents Ranch Style flavored sliced almonds
  • 4 green onions, chopped (green and white parts)
  • 1/2 cup ranch salad dressing
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons celery seed
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • salt (to taste)
  • pepper (to taste)

Put the cole slaw mix, sliced almonds, and chopped green onions in a large bowl. Set aside.

Combine the remaining ingredients, whisking them together to blend them completely.
Pour the dressing over the vegetables and toss gently to combine them thoroughly.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour or overnight.

Serves 4 to 6.

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