Stupidly Simple Pork Chops and Spicy Black Beans

16 May

I’m back!  And you thought you were rid of me.

Actually, I decided weeks ago that I wanted to blog this recipe because (although it is not fancy) it is low in fat, easy, and really tasty.  As an added bonus, it’s one of those things you can keep on hand for busy nights, as long as you have a little freezer space and some canned/jarred staples.

When we’re managing our weight (oh…so like ALWAYS?) Dan and I depend on the whole protein-and-a-side strategy for weekday nights.  We find that by freezing some chicken breasts and boneless pork chops, for example, and then making sure we get in the right vegetables, we can quickly throw together a meal that makes us feel well-fed without exhausting us.  Spicy pork chops and black beans is just such a recipe.

Here’s what you’ll need to make this.

PROTEIN

Boneless pork chops (although chicken is also wonderful!)

SPICE RUB

Brown sugar (light or dark)

Paprika (we prefer smoked paprika, but either will work)

Kosher salt

Garlic powder

Cayenne pepper

Black pepper

BLACK BEANS

Can of black beans

Jar of salsa (I like hot, but any will do)

Fresh garlic (jar will do in a pinch)

Onion

Any combo of sweet and hot peppers you like (this is optional!)

Fresh, chopped tomato (totally optional)

Do your side first… (about 10 or 15 minutes including chopping)

Before I begin, I want to issue the disclaimer that I am no seasoned expert in the making of black beans.  I’m sure there are many people out there who do a more authentic job.  I’m just telling you what I like to do because it’s easy and tasty.  Basically, you can throw together a pretty tasty, healthy side if all you have is a can of black beans and a jar of salsa.  But if you have garlic, onions, and peppers, you can make a really wonderful side dish.  It all depends on what kind of day it is!

Drain your beans.  I don’t bother to rinse them, even.

If you have fresh onion, chop it up (however much you like – I do one small onion for a can of beans) and throw it in a hot skillet with some olive oil.  Saute for a few minutes or until it is turning tender and transparent.  If you have diced  peppers of any kind, throw them in the pan when the onions are partly done.  Peppers don’t require quite as much cooking time as onions, so you don’t want them to go soggy.  When the onion and the peppers are soft, it’s time for the garlic.  Whether sliced or diced (to your taste) put in about two or three cloves and saute only about one minute.  I like to turn down the heat to medium, because garlic burns very fast.

When the onion, peppers and garlic are all soft, dump in your beans and as much salsa as you like.  You want this to be only lightly bubbling – just barely, so adjust your heat to low if necessary.  Stir this occasionally for maybe ten minutes.  Depending on how much liquid is in the salsa, you just want to ensure a nice, thick consistency that won’t leave salsa juice all over your plate.  The beans should become ONE with the salsa.  As a final touch, toss in any fresh, chopped tomato you may have.  This is totally optional.

If you are cooking alone, you can even turn the heat completely off while you’re making the chops and then reheat it briefly before plating.  If you have a cooking partner, he or she can start the chops while you’re working on the beans.  Beans are easy-going.  They are not high-maintenance about waiting.  You can relax!

Make your spice rub… (less than 5 min)

The awesome thing about this spice rub is that you can make a big double batch and keep it in a ziploc bag, which makes subsequent pork chop nights even simpler.  Just mix together about 2TB. brown sugar, 1Tb. salt, 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper, 1/2 tsp. black pepper, 1 tsp. garlic powder, 1 1/2 tsp. of paprika.  Keep in mind, this is a spice rub -you can totally add and subtract these spices to your own liking.  You can also make substitutions, like onion powder instead of garlic powder.  Don’t be timid.  And it goes without saying that you can make this up weeks, days, or hours in advance.

Put it on… (1 min)

Rinse your pork chops and pat them dry.  Sprinkle liberally with the rub and (not surprisingly) rub it into the meat all over.  That’s it.  They don’t need to sit – it will just suck the moisture out of your pork, so do this right before cooking.

For more advanced or adventurous cooks, try brining your pork chops for about 20 min. before rinsing and rubbing them, using a solution of 2C water, 2 Tb. kosher salt and 2 Tb. white sugar.  You can pour the brining solution right into a ziploc bag and toss the pork chops in.  Refrigerate, perhaps flipping the bag over after the first 10 min.  This brining process will make them extra juicy!  If you use the brining method, consider cutting back a little on the salt in the rub.

Cook it! (10 min)

Heat a large skillet (nonstick or otherwise) with a little bit of oil.  Note: I like to use a silicone brush to spread the oil around, which allows you to use less oil and still cover the whole skillet evenly.

When the oil is hot, place the pork chops in the skillet and reduce the skillet to medium high.  Of course, the thickness of your chop is going to determine cooking time.  We usually have chops about 1/2 in. thick.  In that case, cook on one side for roughly 2 min., or until you have a nice browning.  Then, flip the chop and brown the other side for about 2 min.  Next, reduce the heat to medium and cook the chop for roughly an additional 3 min. on each side, or until it reaches desired level of “doneness.”  Pork is lean – it dries out quickly – so be vigilant and don’t go check your e-mail.  We like ours with the very slightest hint of pink in the center.  The party line is that 165 degrees is the cootie-free temperature, so you can use your meat thermometer if you’re worried about that.

Sorry - it's hard to make pork chops pretty.

Once you have reached cootie-free doneness, you just lift those yummy little suckers out of the pan and plate them!

Personally, I like to pour black beans all over my pork chop.  If you prefer them on the side or underneath, you be bold and do it your way!

Voila!  Low fat, spicy, hot, and delicious.

A word about black beans.  I always make a double recipe.  They reheat well for your next protein-and-side emergency and are absolutely spectacular as a filling for an eggwhite omelette.  Weight Watchers rejoice!

The one failing of this recipe is that it does not make a pretty finishing photograph.  Dan suggested putting the pork chops on top of the beans but I forgot.  Sue me.  You’re not eating this dish because it’s sexy.

Guten Appetit!

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4 Responses to “Stupidly Simple Pork Chops and Spicy Black Beans”

  1. I'm So Fancy May 16, 2011 at 11:58 am #

    Well deciding what’s Fancy, that’s my job, isn’t it? And I would say this looks like a meal that will be seeing the Fancy kitchen sometime soon. Thanks! 🙂

  2. Ninja Mom May 16, 2011 at 2:48 pm #

    Argh! I just took out pork chops, and I always have canned beans, but no salsa and no time to stop at the store. This recipe is right up my alley.

    • frazzledfoodie May 16, 2011 at 3:24 pm #

      Have you got a tomato or even an onion and some tabasco (or other hot sauce?) Those could work in a pinch.

  3. thecompletecookbook May 17, 2011 at 1:20 am #

    Your spice rub sounds fabulous!
    🙂 Mandy

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