02 January, 2008

Quick lunch for one

Today I had to eat lunch alone, but as I hope you will agree, this is no reason not to eat well. I made myself a less-than-thirty-minute meal - pork chops and an avocado salad. With simple recipes like these you can create your own variations with different spice combinations. For me, this time I kind of stuck to the very basics.

Many people in the US never think to get pork, especially to cook at home. I, on the other hand, LOVE pork. Since I only eat organic animal products, I am fairly lucky that my local grocery store (not a Whole Foods or anything of that sort) actually started carrying organic pork some time ago. So I get their
2/3-pound packet of 2 beautiful equal-sized chops
and go crazy.

Before you unwrap your meat, however, you start by washing and cleaning
4-5 scallion stalks.
You cut off the "beard" and any yellow edges there might be. Then you chop them up in thin circles.
For the frying I use a non-flavor vegetable oil, in this case corn. You pour
1/3 cup of oil
in the frying pan and add the scallions. You might start on high heat to get the oil hot more quickly, but as soon as you see some frying starting to happen, reduce to medium.

Then comes the meat. As I said above, you shouldn't open it before you're ready to put in the pan to minimize the getting of any bacteria on it, the quick and invisible little nasties everywhere around us.
You add the meat to the frying scallions at this point. I like to cover anything I am frying to try to control the splattering at least somewhat. I have a splatter screen too, but don't think it works nearly as well as a regular lid (in my case from a different cooking set, but one that fits my frying pan perfectly).

Seasoning the meat can happen before, during or after the cooking, but you should understand the different effects each choice has. In this case I seasoned mine while it was cooking - first after I turned the chops for the first time and then before I turned them again for a finish. The reason I chose in-pan seasoning is because this way you can have the spices fried onto the meat in a lovely little crust. The three most basic ones I use for pork are
black finely ground pepper (large pieces don't stick as a crust)
ground cumin.

In about 3-4 minutes (for pieces this size), I season the still raw side and turn the chops over. You can see in this picture how the pieces have curved up a bit, with the center rising above the rest. This is normal during cooking. When you flip them the same thing will happen from the other side and ultimately they will flatten down again.

The other side should be left in a tad bit longer, 4-5 minutes. The reason for this is that you should turn the chops over one more time, after seasoning the now-up-side too. Since the less cooked side will end up on the bottom again, we will give it an additional 1-2 minutes so that the cooking time ends up being even. Overall pork as tender as this needs very little cooking as you see.

This is what a finished pork chops looks like. Once you see the nice brown, both on the meat and on the spice crust, you are ready. Or rather your lovely pork chops are.
I will show what my final lunch plate looked like at the end of the avocado recipe post that follows, but you should know it was delicious.
PS Now, you will have a bunch of very tasty oil left in the pan. I never refry in the same oil, but with something as well spiced up from the scallions and spices as this, I find it hard to throw it all out. What I do is put pieces of bread in it, which I then eat as an accompaniment to my meal. You can also have them as snacks at a later time. I just hope you are not afraid of fat. :)

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