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Published: Sunday, 10/23/2011

Pork chops get desperate makeover

BY ALICIA ROSS, WITH BEVERLY MILLS

Deja vu in the grocery store: That's just what it felt like last week. Walking through my local supermarket, I glanced down in the meat case and spied an old reliable just begging to be picked up -- smoked pork chops.

I haven't cooked with smoked pork chops in at least five years, and I don't know why. They're quick and easy. They're tender and flavorful. And as far as a lean meat goes, smoked pork chops get high scores there, too -- only 130 calories and less than 5 grams of fat per serving.

However, the sodium is 32 percent of your daily recommended amount, so if you are on a sodium-restricted diet, you should probably avoid them.

Immediately I thought of my Lemon-Butter Pasta and Asparagus and how amazing this would be with smoked pork chops. (You can serve the pasta with chicken or sauteed fish, too.) But considering how quick both are, plus the flavor combination of a smoky chop and the pasta's bright lemon-butter sauce, it's a pairing that was meant to be.

Contact Beverly Mills and Alicia Ross at Desperation Dinners, c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106, or send email to tellus@kitchenscoop.com.

Smoked Pork Chops With Lemon-Butter Pasta and Asparagus

Start to finish: 20 minutes

2 boneless smoked pork chops (3 ounces each)

2 ounces small pasta, such as orzo or farfallini

8 ounces fresh thin asparagus

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Bring 1 quart of water to a boil in a large saucepan. Meanwhile, lightly brown pork chops in a nonstick skillet over medium heat, about two to three minutes on each side. When pork is lightly browned, remove from heat and cover with foil to keep warm while cooking the pasta and asparagus.

Add pasta to boiling water and cook three minutes. While pasta begins to cook, rinse and drain asparagus, snap off tough ends, and cut spears into 1 to 2-inch pieces. Add asparagus to the pasta pot and cook three more minutes. Drain in a colander and place in a medium bowl.

In a 1-cup glass measure, heat butter and lemon juice in the microwave for 30 to 45 seconds or until butter is melted. Add salt and black pepper and whisk well. Drizzle sauce over pasta and toss well to coat. Divide pasta and asparagus between two serving plates and top with a reserved pork chop. Serve immediately.

Yield: Serves two; doubles easily

Approximate values per serving: 326 calories (34 percent from fat), 12 g fat (6 g saturated), 56 mg cholesterol, 28 g protein, 26 g carbohydrates, 3 g dietary fiber, 1,396 mg sodium.



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