Eight ingredients. That's all it takes to make an entire meal from scratch. Add in a good bottle of wine for less than $20, and you've got a weeknight feast for family or friends. That's the philosophy behind our "8 & $20" feature. We hope it adds pleasure to your table.
Sometimes the right way to punch up an old classic, such as pork chops, isn’t with a brand new marinade or spice, but by placing the emphasis on the side dish. Here, a super-simple preparation for pork chops—coated in coarse cornmeal, then seared in a hot pan—is complemented by a quick-cooking okra dish made with summer tomatoes and black olives.
Making okra is the “battle of the ooze,” as one of my coworkers said when I told her about this week’s dish. That’s totally true: Okra can get messy really fast. But here, cooked whole in the tomato sauce, the okra steams itself from the inside out, becoming tender and not slimy at all. Another major benefit of cooking okra whole: You don’t have to chop much, so you can get back to your regularly scheduled summer programming.
Although this dish contains a lot of traditional “red flags” for wine, such as high acid from the tomatoes, salt from the olives and the green vegetal character of the okra, there was a lot to like when it came to the wine pairings we tried. A Sangiovese from Tuscany gained a nice peppery edge alongside the food, and a Riesling from Alsace provided a totally passable alternative if you’re looking for something white and cool. But our favorite was a red Portuguese blend from the Alentejo region, as the wine’s acidity and bold, spicy flavors held their own against the tomato sauce but didn’t dominate the dish.
Pair with a spicy Portuguese red, such as Sogrape Alentejo Callabriga 2009 (89 points, $13)
Total time: 25 minutes
Approximate food cost: $35
1. In a large bowl, marinate the pork chops in a mix of the juice from the lemon with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Reserve.
2. In a large sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon of cooking oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion slices and cook until soft, around three minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes and continue cooking until the tomatoes have softened and broken down into a chunky sauce. Add the whole okra and the black olives and cook until the okra is tender, around 10 to 12 minutes. Season to taste with salt.
3. Remove the pork chops from the marinade and pat dry with a paper towel. Dredge the pork chops in the cornmeal and then season with salt. In a large sauté pan, heat two tablespoons of cooking oil over medium-high heat. Add the pork chops to the pan and cook until browned on one side, then flip, lower the heat to medium, cover and continue to cook until the pork chops are done, around 2 to 3 minutes a side. Remove the pork chops from the pan and serve immediately with the okra and tomato sauce mix on the side. Serves 4.
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