Since I got serious about meal planning at the start of this year, I've talked about it quite a bit here. A lot of you have asked me to do a post detailing my process, and I promise to put that together for you soon! But today, let's just be honest and set the record straight for a minute. We don't eat seven well-balanced, home-cooked meals a week, that's just not real life. There are boxes of macaroni and cheese on occasion, meals composed entirely of items from Trader Joe's frozen section, and sometimes, yes, even popcorn is a meal (though that's usually when I'm eating alone, I don't know that I could convince Shane popcorn was a meal :) )
Some weeks, even though I know (and love!) all of the benefits of meal planning, I lack inspiration, motivation, time or some combination of all three to get it done. I'll come up with 3 or 4 meals, and then revert back to old habits for the rest. Old habits = wander around the store throwing whatever looks good or happens to be on sale into the cart, then figure it out on the fly during the week. Sometimes I get lucky and still wind up with a great meal, as was the case with these pork chops.
I love a good 30-minute, minimal clean-up required kind of dinner. The best are the ones where you can finish most of the dishes while the meal is still cooking. This recipe falls into both categories. Pork chops are browned, rice is par-cooked in the microwave, and then they're both finished at the same time in one pan with some onion, garlic and thyme for flavor. I accidentally overcooked the pork chops slightly and they were still juicy. The parsley butter served on top of them certainly didn't hurt matters either :) The rice was my favorite part of the meal though - so simple but loaded with flavor and perfectly cooked! It certainly won't be the last time this meal shows up on our table.
Skillet Pork Chops and Rice with Parsley Butter
from Cook's Country, August/September 2011
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened and divided
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
2 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth, divided
1 cup long-grain white rice
4 (6- to 8-oz) boneless pork chops, 3/4 to 1 inch thick
1 medium onion, chopped fine
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
In a small bowl, stir 2 tablespoons of the butter together with the parsley. Set aside.
In a large microwave safe bowl, combine 1 cup of the chicken broth and the rice. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and microwave for 6-7 minutes, or until the liquid has been completely absorbed (note: all microwaves vary, so keep an eye and maybe check yours early just in case). Be very careful when you remove the plastic wrap from the bowl, the steam is super hot!
While the race is cooking, pat the pork chops dry with paper towels. Cut two slits, about 2 inches apart, in the fat cap around the outside edge of each pork chop (this will prevent them from curling up as they cook). Season both sides of the pork with salt and pepper. Set a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon of the butter. When it's melted and the pan is hot, add the chops. Brown on both sides, about 6-8 minutes total. Remove the pork chops to a plate and tent with foil.
Add the final tablespoon of butter to the skillet and melt, then add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 6-7 minutes. Stir in the garlic and thyme, cooking just until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Add the rice and the remaining 1 1/4 cups of chicken broth to the skillet. Bring the mixture to a boil, the nestle the pork chops and any accumulated juices in the pan. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cover the pan. Cook for 10-14 minutes, or until the rice is tender and the pork is cooked to your desired doneness (it should register at least 145 F on an instant read thermometer). Top the pork with the parsley butter when serving.