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by Shannon McGill
I’m somebody who wants to put lemon juice on everything that can’t outrun me. Pasta, salads, tuna, every vegetable. I can’t get enough. To me these lemon-infused pork chops are wonderful because the essence of the lemon takes over the dish and you get that tart, almost bitter flavor from the bit of rind. Add in the fact that the pork gets super tender and stays moist with earthiness of the black beans and I’m in heaven. This dish makes me feel like I’m eating something not just healthful, but beautiful.
This isn’t what you’d call a quick dinner, but it is embarrassingly easy. This is great for a day when you’re hanging around the house and you want something hearty for dinner, but not fussy. It’s a great cold weather meal, but the zingy lemon makes it good to eat in warmer weather too. I guess I’m saying, make it any old time you want. And believe me, you’ll want.
I wouldn’t even know into what strain of ethnic cooking this dish could be placed. It’s sort of Mexican-ish, sort of Morrocan-ish. depending on the spices and garnish you employ, you could do a lot with the basic skeleton of this recipe.
-6-8 thinly sliced center cut pork chops (about 1.4 lbs in all)
-1 chopped green bell pepper (about 1 cup)
-1 chopped yellow onion (about 1 cup)
-1 lemon (slice ½ thinly, and keep the other ½ in tact)
-2 14.5 oz cans of stewed tomatoes
-2 ½ cups water
-1 15.5 oz can of black beans (drained and rinsed)
-1 ½ cups of cups of rice (I used long grain brown rice, but whatever you have on hand will work)
-Salt & Pepper
-1 tsp. or more of Cumin, to taste (optional)
What to do:
Preheat oven to 375°
In a 12 inch oven safe pan with a lid, saute the onion and bell pepper in olive oil. Season the veggies with salt and pepper and if you are using cumin, add it at this point. Just soften up the peppers and onions, no more than 5 minutes over a medium heat.
At this point add the pork chops to the pan. You’ll have to sort of push the veggies out of the way so the porkchops will have the surface area of the pan. You don’t want to lay the pork on top of the veggies. The idea is to brown the meat a little because, as we all know brown=flavor. Cook the pork about 3-4 minutes on each side or until just browned.
Next add your raw rice to the pan, just sprinkle it over the top.
Add stewed tomatoes, water, squeeze half of your lemon into the mixture (no seeds!), and add the beans. At this point, make sure all the rice is covered by water. Jostle things around in the pan if you need to, or add a little more liquid if you have to.
Bring the whole mixture to a boil. When it starts bubbling, add your lemon slices onto the top of the pan like so. Use more or less depending on what level of lemon fanatic you are.
After you’ve added the lemons, cover the pan and turn off the heat. BE CAREFUL removing the pan from the burner and placing it into your preheated oven.
Let it cook for about an hour and half and then check to see if the rice is tender. If not, return, covered, to the oven and cook for 10 minute intervals until the rice is tender.
I serve mine topped with a dollop of plain greek yogurt. This is also great wrapped up in warm tortillas. And, if you like hot sauce, this is very nice with a couple dashes of Chipotle Tabasco or even good ol’ Frank’s.
As I said before the sky’s the limit with this dish. Pair it with a simple green salad and you can even entertain with this. Your guests will be like, “Wha??? I didn’t realize you were a culinary genius!” You don’t have to tell them it was my idea ;)