Fiesta Pork Chops

This time of year can be a challenge. School is ending and there are a million end of the year activities going on. On top of that, summer practices and ballgames are beginning, the lawn needs to be mowed and all the household chores still need to get done. It can be a real challenge to get dinner on the table, but this recipe can help. It’s just a few ingredients and clean up is easy since it is all made in one skillet. Dinner will be on the table in under 45 minutes from start to finish.

IMG_3074
Fiesta Pork Chops – Pork chops topped with black beans and salsa all made in one skillet so cleanup is minimal.

I’m the first to admit that I will take a short cut in the kitchen if I need to. This recipe calls for canned black beans and jarred salsa. Soaking and cooking beans is not the most difficult thing in the world, but it takes planning ahead. I have no problems using canned beans on occasion and I always make sure my pantry is stocked with several different types.

The pork chops I like to use in this dish are bone-in chops at least three-quarters of an inch thick. You can use boneless if you like, but I think the bone helps develop a deeper flavor. A thinner chop can also be used but it will cook much faster and the liquids may not have as much time to cook down.

Here is what I did:

Fiesta Pork Chops

Ingredients

4 bone-in thick-cut pork chops
Ground black pepper
2 tablespoon oil
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, with liquid
1 cup salsa
3 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

Directions

Season pork chops with pepper.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Sear pork chops 3 to 5 minutes per side until golden browned.

Stir about 2 tablespoons of the chopped cilantro into the salsa reserving the remainder. Pour beans and salsa over pork chops. Continue cooking over medium-high heat until liquid is bubbling, then reduce heat to medium-low, loosely cover the skillet, and simmer until chops are no longer pink in the center and liquid has reduced by about half; about 20 to 35 minutes.

Beet and Black Bean Burgers

image

Beet and black bean burger topped with a raw goat milk cheddar cheese.

image

Beet and black bean burger dressed with sprouts.

image

Beet and black bean burgers prior to being cooked.

I have been called a “weekday vegetarian” and I don’t mind. Too often, as soon as one says they are vegetarian, we become tense and feel we need to defend our decision. We feel personally attacked. Meat eaters are accused of doing wrong and vegetarians are labeled self-righteous. In my opinion, choosing to eat or not eat meat should not be an all or nothing decision.

I’m not sure if I truly am a weekend vegetarian; I really like meat. I do know that my meat consumption has decreased considerably over the last several years and not because I consciously set out to do so with the idea that I was going to make a difference in the world. The difference I did make was more personal. My creativity in the kitchen has exploded as I discover more ways to prepare a wider variety of foods. My nutritional knowledge has improved. My health has improved and yes, I am making better decisions at the meat counter. Since I buy less meat, I can buy better meat and again, a wider variety.

We could discuss this further, but let’s move to this tasty recipe. Roasted beets and black beans combine to make a filling burger with a great smokey taste and a satisfying texture.

Roasted beets and goat cheese are often paired together because the tanginess of the goat cheese balances the sweetness of the beets. So when I first thought of making these burgers I knew I wanted to top them with a goat cheese. A soft goat cheese I felt would be too difficult on a veggie burger; which is already much softer than a regular burger. I didn’t think it would hold up well. I found a sharp cheddar cheese made with raw goat’s milk that provided the tanginess I wanted yet did not compound the veggie burger’s softer texture.

The ingredients I have listed make for a vegetarian veggie burger. They can easily be made vegan simply by eliminating the egg and omitting the cheese.

I also topped this burger with some tender bitter greens and alfalfa sprouts.

I’m not going to lie. This recipe takes quite a bit of time to come together, and I find it best to do it over two days, but they are so worth it. The great thing about these burgers is that they freeze very well. You can easily double this recipe and freeze the extra burgers for another meal. If you do choose to freeze them, I suggest first placing them on a flat cooking sheet in the freezer for a few hours before packaging them with foil or waxed paper separating the individual patties. It will make taking out one or two at a time much easier when you need them.

Here is what I did:

Beet and black bean burgers

Ingredients

2 medium red beets (about ½ pound)
1/3 cup brown rice (uncooked)
2 (15.5-ounce) cans black beans
3 tablespoons dried minced onion
1 teaspoon dried minced garlic
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
2 teaspoons course ground brown mustard
1 teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon dried thyme
1 large egg (leave out for vegan burgers)
¾ cup old-fashioned rolled oats
Kosher Salt
Fresh ground pepper

To serve:
Thin slices of goat milk sharp cheddar cheese (or other tangy cheese)
Hamburger buns

Directions

Roast the Beets:
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Trim tops and root tips from the beets. Fit a cooling rack inside a baking sheet and place beets on rack. Roast until easily pierced with a fork, about 50 to 60 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Parboil Rice:
Meanwhile, bring about 1 ½ quarts of generously salted water to a rolling boil. Add the rice, stir, cover, and return the rice to a boil over medium high heat. Continue to cook the rice about 20 to 25 more minutes until the rice is tender yet still firm. Remove from heat and drain the excess water. Then run the coldest water you can get from the tap over the rice. This will help stop the cooking process and also cool the rice. Allow the rice to completely drain so it does not absorb any additional water. Set aside and allow rice to completely cool. (This may be done the day before and refrigerated.)

Grate the Roasted Beets: Use the edge of a spoon or a paper towel to scrape the skins off the cooled roasted beets; the skins should slip off easily. Grate the peeled beets on the largest holes of a box grater. Transfer the beet gratings to a strainer set over the sink. Press and squeeze the beet gratings to remove as much liquid as possible from the beets. Allow beets to drip freely until adding them to the mixture and to further reduce water content.

The Veggie Burger Mix:
Drain and rinse both cans of beans. Transfer the beans to a food processor and pulse in 1-second bursts just until the beans are roughly chopped — you do not want the beans to become mush — 8 to 10 pulses. Transfer beans to a large mixing bowl. Add the shredded beets, cooked rice, dried onions and garlic, smoked paprika, mustard, cumin, coriander, and thyme to the bowl with the beans. Mix all the ingredients until combined. Taste the mixture and add salt and pepper to taste. Add egg and mix well. Finally, add oats and mix until you no longer see any dry oatmeal.

Loosely cover the bowl with wax paper or foil and refrigerate over night. The mix can also be kept refrigerated for up to three days before cooking.

Making the Burgers:
Scoop up about a scant cup of the burger mixture and shape it between your palms into a thick patty the size of your hamburger buns. You should end up with 6 large patties approximately 6 ounces each.

Heat a large cast iron skillet over high heat. Add a few tablespoons of vegetable oil to completely coat the bottom of the pan. Cook the patties for 3 to 4 minutes, then flip them. There should be a good crust formed on the cooked side. Cook for another 3 to 4 minutes, then cover the pan and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook for 4 more minutes until the patties are warmed through. Place a slice of cheese over the burgers in the last minute or two of cooking if you’re adding it.

Serve the veggie burgers on a firm, lightly toasted burger buns with some fresh greens. Sprouts are also very tasty topping these burgers.

Recipe Notes:
Because of the tendency for veggie burger to sometimes fall apart, you will probably be more successful cooking these indoors in a cast iron skillet. However, I have been successful cooking these on an outdoor grill by simply using a flat cast iron griddle on my gas grill. A large cast iron skillet would also work on a grill.

A great day for soup: Quick and Easy Black Bean Soup

image

I’m not opposed to taking a few shortcuts now and then in the kitchen. Especially when it comes to dried beans and lentils which can take forever to prepare. Here is a quick and easy black bean soup recipe that hit the spot on this cold, dreary evening. This soup can easily be made vegetarian by replacing the chicken broth with vegetable broth.

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon cumin
3 tablespoons chili powder
½ teaspoon oregano
1 C Chicken or vegetable broth
3 cans (15 ounces each) Black Beans
Black pepper
Salsa
Shredded cheese
Fresh herb, like basil

Directions

Heat oil in large pot over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook about five minutes then stir in cumin, chili powder and oregano and continue cooking until onions are translucent. Add chicken broth. Puree one can of black beans, add to pot. Add second can of black beans (do not puree). Drain and rinse last can of black beans and add to pot (do not puree).

Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes stirring often. Add black pepper to taste.

Top with salsa, shredded cheese and fresh herb.