• Cooking with JoJo: Put some pep in your pork instead of the extra fat

    By Joey Morasse -

    When I think of pork chops, I think of the usual Southern breaded-and-fried version that usually turns out dry and tough since they naturally have little to no fat. All the grease used in frying and the breading can surely add up to extra inches on the waist and pounds on the scale, so here is a healthier and tastier way to cook pork chops.

    Years ago, I bought a meat hammer, and it changed the way I buy and prepare not only pork chops, but also any cut of meat. Now, I can buy the cheaper cuts and make them as tender and juicy as the more expensive cuts.

    For this recipe, I bought a pack of boneless pork chops and, using the flat side of the meat hammer, made them nice and thin and the “toothed” side to tenderize or cube the chops.

    Pork takes on seasoning and flavors well. When it’s paired with another favorite of mine, peppers and onions and the acidity of tomatoes and sweetness of basil is added in and the pork is allowed to cook while covered in the mixture makes for a juicy chop that is full of flavor without the gains and the guilt.

    What you’ll need:

    • boneless pork chops, two per serving, thin sliced, tenderized and cubed.

    • 4 medium green bell peppers, thinly sliced.

    • ½ large onion, thinly sliced.

    • 3 tsp. olive oil.

    • ¼ cup fresh chopped basil.

    • pinch of salt and pepper.

    • 1 tsp. oregano.

    • 2 cloves garlic, minced.

    • 2 14.5-ounce cans diced tomatoes.

    • 16 ounces baby spinach.

    • 2 tsp. balsamic vinegar.

    • pinch of red pepper flakes.

    Season the chops with salt and pepper and set aside. In a pan on medium heat, add olive oil and allow it to come to temperature. Add in peppers, onions and a pinch of salt and pepper and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring frequently until tender.

    Add in minced garlic, oregano and basil and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Add canned tomatoes and mix well. Reduce the heat, cover and allow it to cook for 15 minutes, taste and adjust salt and pepper, if needed.

    Make a well in the middle of the mixture, turn heat up to medium and add in the chops covering them in the peppers, onions and tomatoes. Since the chops have been tenderized, the cooking time will be quick.

    The flavors will absorb into the meat, which will result in a fork-tender delicious bite that will keep you coming back for more, and that’s OK for this guilt-free pork chop dish.

    For an added dimension of flavor and to get in those all-important greens into the diet, top it with sautéed spinach cooked in olive oil, salt and pepper and a splash of balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle on some red pepper flakes for a bit of heat. Enjoy.

    Cooking since he could pull a chair up to the stove at 5 years old, Joey Morasse, of Lebanon, is the owner and operator of JoJo’s Barbecue and Catering. He is also a personal chef and offers in-home cooking classes. Email him at [email protected]

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