I hadn’t thought about this dinner in a while– you know how that is: you get attached to a dish for months on end, you make it nearly every week, and then, somehow, you just forget about it.
Most cooks make the same three to five weeknight meals over and over, week in and week out. It makes perfect sense: you know how to prepare them, you know you (and the people you cook for) like them, and at the end of a long day, you don’t have to think too hard to get any one of them on the table. It also makes grocery shopping easier– you know exactly where those ingredients are the store shelves and can grab them quickly.
The other night, I had these pork chops again for the first time in a while, but not because I made it: my students did. I had included the recipe as part of a new class I designed for ICE (Institute of Culinary Education) called 400-Calorie Fast Weeknight Meals. When we all sat down to eat together at the end of the five hour class, the students declared this was their favorite recipe. I’m going to have to add it back in to my personal rotation.
When I do, it won’t look or taste the same every time. I often tweak my stable of basics based on what I have on hand, my mood, or just a need to do something a little different. Here are some of the variations I do with this recipe:
- Substitute boneless chicken breasts or thighs for the pork chops.
- Use cherry rather than plum preserves.
- Season the pork more robustly: add 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin, 1/8-1/4 teaspoon cayenne
- Add halved grapes and sliced almonds to the pan after the pork chops cook on the first side. (The grapes wilt just the right amount in the time it takes to finish cooking the pork).