Mediterranean Pork Chops

Hot and fast, tender pork chops simmered in a creamy light tomato sauce.   This is a very easy weeknight dinner that can I can pull together quickly with staple pantry ingredients.  While I  normally purchase boneless pork chops for preparing quick dishes, these center cut pork chops can be made as easily requiring just slightly longer cooking time.  Pork chops on the bone seem more rustic, comfort dining to me, but I would serve this to guests as well as the pork is so extremely flavorful and tender.

Mediterranean Pork Chops

4 center cut pork chops about 1/2 inch thick, trimmed of excess fat
Italian seasoning mix (see below)
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion thinly sliced
1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
1/4 cup water, chicken stock or white wine
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 cup heavy cream

Italian Seasoning Mix:
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
1/2 tablespoon dried sage
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoon black pepper

Combine seasoning mix in a small container; not all will be used, save the remaining for other dishes in an airtight container for up to 3 months.  Season each pork chop well with the mixture, rubbing it into the meat on both sides. 

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add pork chops to the pan and allow to cook for about 3 minutes or until the chops can be turned easily, without sticking, and are nicely browned.  Turn pork chops over and cook for an additional 3 minutes.  Remove from the pan to a plate.

Add in thinly sliced onions and diced tomatoes, stirring well to combine and scraping bottom of the pan.  Stir in the cream and return the pork chops to the pan, turning once to coat both sides with the sauce.  Partially cover the pan and allow to simmer for about 25 minutes, occasionally turning the pork chops.  Plate pork chops spooning sauce over each chop.

Bourbon BBQ Ribs

There’s something wonderful about eating with your hands, picking up tender, messy ribs that literally fall off the bone and melt in your mouth.  Compliment it with plenty of napkins, roasted red, white & blue potato salad and fresh corn on the cob smeared with a seasoned butter.  Memories of those BBQ times with family and friends always stay with me.  In fact, two years ago I was back in Ohio over Memorial Day and my cousin Diane made a menu very similar to that.  I contacted her to get her recipe as I am always changing up what I do with my ribs.  With all good intentions to follow her recipe exactly, but so very like me, I switched it up at the last minute.  Diane drizzles apple cider vinegar on her ribs and Italian dressing before roasting low and slow.  After that she turns it over to her husband for last-minute grilling and basting with BBQ sauce.  Her ribs were great, tender and so very tasty.

Just before I was about to drizzle on the cider vinegar, I remember I had a lot of very ripe limes to use up.  Knowing that the concept of using the vinegar to act as an acidic for tenderizing and limes, though not as potent, could work just as well.  After that I drizzled on some olive oil and seasoned lightly.  Once roasted until tender, I basted and grilled the ribs with a Bourbon BBQ Sauce, recipe follows.  And… to finish up those limes, Mojito Slushies!

Bourbon BBQ Ribs

2 racks baby back ribs, about 2 1/2 lbs.
Apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
Olive Oil to lightly drizzle over ribs
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon cayenne powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon crushed dried herbs, oregano, thyme, basil
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a roasting pan with foil.  Cut the racks of ribs to fit into a roasting pan, laying meat side up, overlapping slightly.  Drizzle on the vinegar or lemon juice and olive oil.  Combine the remaining ingredients and rub into the ribs.  Cover with a top layer of foil sealing edges tightly.  Roast until the meat begins to pull away from the bone and are just tender, about 1 1/2 hours. 

Preheat an outdoor grill to medium heat.  Grill the ribs, brushing with the Bourbon Sauce.   Let grill for about 10 minutes, then turn the ribs as they grill, continuing to baste.  Watch closely as the sugar in the sauce will burn.  Let the ribs rest for about 10 minutes before cutting into 1 or 2 bone pieces.  Platter and brush with some sauce.  Pour remaining sauce in bowl for dipping.

Bourbon BBQ Sauce

Slightly adapted from Jim Beam Kentucky Bourbon recipe

2 cups tomato sauce (or ketchup, I’m not a fan of using ketchup!)
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 cup Bourbon Whiskey
4 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Combine all ingredients in medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer partially covered for about 20-30 minutes or until thickened.