Thursday, August 19, 2010

Taking Shortcuts

We are all guilty of cheating.

Whether it's slacking on a workout, or looking off one's term paper, at some point our moral compass and competitive drive takes the easy way out.

Obviously there's a negative connotation with the word "shortcut".  And for good reason: most of the shortcuts we take are out of laziness and fear.

But, what about kitchen shortcuts?  Sandra Lee's Kwanzaa Cake aside, I'm okay with taking a few shortcuts in the kitchen.  After all, relying on a store-bought pasta sauce or salad dressing as a convenience is much better than waiting in line at the local drive-thru.  In fact, many of today's manufacturers offer 'healthier' versions of prepared sauces, dressings, or rice mixes to meet the needs of those looking for convenience without sacrificing their diet.  Whether it's low-calorie, whole grain, or reduced sodium . . . it's a positive trend that many manufacturers are now focused on providing better products to consumers.

The following recipe relies on a low-sodium box of Zatarain's Red Beans and Rice as a side/starch to round out the meal.  No, it's not as good as standing over a pot of beans as is called for in the traditional NOLA preparation, but for a busy weeknight, it gets the job done.

Call it cheating if you will.  I call it being realistic.

Grilled Pork Chops with Red Beans and Rice and Sauteed Spinach

1 Package Reduced Sodium Zatarain's Red Beans and Rice
2 Thick Cut Pork Chops (about 8 - 10 oz each)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Kosher Salt
Fresh Cracked Pepper
1 Clove Garlic, minced
1 Package Spinach Leaves


Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  On the stove top, prepare rice according to package instructions (approximately 25 - 30 minutes total cook time).  Next, heat a grill/grill pan to medium high heat.  Coat each pork chop in olive oil and season liberally with kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper.  When 15 minutes cooking time remain for the rice, add the chops to the grill; cook and do not disturb for 2 minutes.  Turn chops 1/4 turn and cook for another two minutes, creating nice grill marks.  Flip chops and add to a high heated oven (or indirect heat on a covered grill) and cook until medium well, about 10 minutes depending on the size and cut.  Remove rice from heat and allow to cool and thicken.  In a small skillet over medium-high heat, add a teaspoon of olive oil and the garlic; saute for 30 seconds.  Add the entire bag of spinach and cook until leaves are just wilted, about 1 - 2 minutes.  Meanwhile, remove chops from heat and rest for 2 -3 minutes.  Begin plating by placing a portion of red beans and rice and spinach side by side.  Rest the chop over the beans and serve. 

1 comment:

Joel said...

Just made this for my girlfriend, went very well! Easy to make and tasted great too!

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