Curried Pork Loin Chops with Brown Butter & Coconut Rice

Featured on Food & Wine Magazine’s Instagram account for #thisisfall, September 2014

When I made these chops, Mike took one look and asked, “Are those steaks?”

Ah, dear friends, the power of a good sear.

These are so flavorful, you’ll fall over when you take your first bite.

And they’re so easy, you’ll never get back up. (But you should, so you can make them again.)

I brine the meat first to make sure it’s extra tender (directions below).

Melt the butter over medium heat. Add the pork chops.

Don’t touch ’em. Don’t disturb ’em. For like 10 minutes.

When the meat is nice and golden, flip them. I strongly suggest using a meat thermometer to get these babies to just the right temperature (135°F). After your first flip, stick the thermometer into the middle of one of the chops and watch the temperature. Overcooking is the death of pork chops!

Pork loin chops have a nice big medallion of meat attached to the bone – get them if you can. They might be called “center cut” – same thing. 1/2-inch or thicker, please.

For reference, these three chops weighed 1 3/4 pounds uncooked; so they were a little over 9 ounces each.

This is one instance where a little crowding in the pan is a good thing, to keep the butter bubbling around the meat (this was a 10-inch nonstick Scanpan). I don’t have a cast iron fry pan, or I’d have used it!

Once the proper temperature is reached, spoon the butter over the chops (it will be nice and browned by this point).

I served these with coconut rice and a Caesar salad. The rice recipe is in the notes below.

Super, extra, mondo deliciousness.

2014-09-23 18.32.26

Curried Pork Loin Chops with Brown Butter & Coconut Rice

  • 3 thick cut (1/2-3/4 inch) pork loin chops, bone-in
  • 2-3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 lemon
  • salt

for the brine:

  • 4 cups water
  • 1/4 cup salt

for the spice rub:

  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder (or substitute paprika if you don’t want the heat)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

coconut rice:

  • 1 cup uncooked white rice
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sweetened coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil (if you don’t have this, use 2 cups of coconut milk and omit the water)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • handful of fresh cilantro, finely chopped

Dissolve the salt in water for the brine in a dish big enough to submerge the pork chops completely. Add the chops, cover, and refrigerate at least 30 minutes – an hour or two is ideal.

Just before removing the chops from the fridge: mix the uncooked rice, water, coconut milk, coconut oil and salt in a pan. Heat to boiling, reduce to low, cover, and let simmer 20 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed. (You can also heat the coconut oil in the pan, lightly brown the rice, then add the water, coconut milk, and salt. Bring to a boil and reduce to low, simmering 20 minutes. This adds a nice flavor to the rice.)

Remove the chops from the brine and pat dry with paper towels. Sprinkle with salt.

Mix the curry powder, chili powder, salt, pepper, and garlic powder in a small bowl. Put about 1/2 teaspoon of this mix on each chop and rub all over with your fingers. Flip them over and do the same on the other side.

Heat a 10-inch pan over medium heat, and melt the butter. When the butter begins to bubble, add the chops.

Squeeze the lemon over the chops (not a lot, just a sprinkling). Let the chops cook for about 10 minutes (don’t touch!).

Check to make sure they are browned on the bottom, then flip. Insert a meat thermometer into one of the chops to monitor internal temperature.

Squeeze the lemon over the chops again. Cook another 5-10 minutes, or until thermometer reads 135°F. Spoon butter over chops.

Stir the chopped cilantro into the rice, and serve the chops over the rice. Enjoy!


Spanish-Style Egg & Rice Bowl

Sometimes, we’re completely out of meat at our house.

Not even a chicken nugget in the freezer.

But I don’t despair. I make eggs!

Did you know how good they are for dinner? Oh, so delicious.

Over easy, hard boiled…let me show you how I make them Spanish-style (of course, right?).

We like to use brown rice or quinoa. Take your pick for the grain!

This is like nutrition on steroids. Fantastically good for you. Healthy proteins and whole grain.

Oh, and do try the pickled jalapeños. They are mildly spicy, pickled in vinegar and spices and canned with slices of carrots and onions. Find them in small cans next to the Spanish/Mexican foods in your grocery store.

And making your own fresh pico de gallo is super easy. I show you how here!

Why are you still reading this? Get to fixin’ it!


[recipe recipe title=”Spanish-Style Egg & Rice Bowl” servings=2]

  • 1 cup cooked brown rice (or your grain of choice)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1/2 cup black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup pico de gallo (or use jarred salsa)
  • pickled japapeños (optional but delicious)
  • drizzle of olive oil
  • Cholula hot sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon butter, for frying egg

Make your own pico de gallo now, if you choose.

Divide the rice between two plates or wide, shallow bowls. Add black beans.

Fry two eggs to your liking in butter. I like to sometimes leave the yolk a little runny!

While the eggs cook, slice avocado in quarters and remove peel. Slice or dice into bite size pieces and add to the plate.

Garnish with the pickled jalapeños.

Top rice and beans with egg. Drizzle a little olive oil on top and sprinkle with Cholula or your favorite hot sauce.

Top everything with the pico de gallo or salsa. Enjoy![/recipe]

Thai Pineapple-Cilantro Fried Rice

*as I’m cooking this rice tonight, around the corner comes Husband*

*sniff sniff* “What are you making?  Smells like a hibachi grill in here!”

Me: “Pineapple fried rice.”  Him: “I can’t wait to eat it!”

This is coming from a man who is utterly spoiled from all the cooking I do.  If he says it smells good, you’re dern tootin’ (yep) it does.  That’s when I knew I got this right!

Instead of loading it up with canola oil, I use sesame oil and fish sauce for better flavor.  I realize there are a lot of ingredients, so make a double or triple batch and freeze it!

If you must, omit the curry powder if you don’t like it, and the Thai chile if you don’t want the heat (although it’s not too spicy…but maybe not kid friendly).

Chop up everything ahead of time and use cooled (or day old) rice to make prep a breeze.  Serve it with chicken or shrimp for a meal!


Thai Pineapple-Cilantro Fried Rice

  • 4 cups cooled, cooked rice (or day old rice)
  • 2-3 tablespoons (gluten free) soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 red Thai chili, minced (seeded for less heat)
  • 1 cup chopped pineapple (fresh or canned)
  • 1 cup chopped white onion
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

In a large, shallow pan or wok, heat the canola and sesame oils over medium high heat.  Add the garlic and onion; saute for 5 minutes.  Push to one side of the pan.

Break the eggs on the clear side of the pan, and scramble until cooked through.

Add fish sauce, Thai chili, pineapple and curry powder; stir all to combine.

Add cilantro and rice, and gently stir to combine.  Season to taste with soy sauce. Enjoy!

Gingered Tofu & Vegetable Stir-Fry

Mmmm….stir fry.  Easy and delicious.  Exactly what I was thinking when I wanted to introduce my toddler to tofu.

I make stir frys many ways, with whatever I have on hand, but this is a favorite – with ginger and sesame oil.  Tofu is a very versatile ingredient, taking on the flavor of whatever you put with it, and it’s a great protein source.  We don’t eat tofu often but this is one way that is great!

Around these parts, tofu is in the organic section of the produce.  Get the firm or extra-firm kind.

If you don’t have fish sauce, that’s ok, leave it out.  But it adds delicious flavor!

I use San-J gluten free sauces, it is amazing.  We love the gluten free soy sauce even more than its regular cousin!

Serve with rice (sticky, short grain “sushi” rice if you can).  Just lovely.

Gingered Tofu & Vegetable Stir-Fry

Yields about 4 2-cup servings.

  • 1 block firm or extra-firm tofu
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 bell pepper, sliced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 2 cups smaller mushrooms, such as button or portabella, sliced if needed
  • 2 green onions (scallions), white part only sliced
  • 1 head baby bok choy, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup Gluten-Free soy sauce, plus more to taste (such as San-J)
  • 3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons ginger (1 tablespoon if using fresh grated)
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • toasted sesame seeds for garnish, optional
  • 1 teaspoon fish oil, optional

Drain tofu and place on a paper-towel line plate.  Top with more paper towels and add a weight on top to help squeeze out the liquid.  Set aside.

Chop onion, bell pepper, carrots and bok choy; add to a large bowl.  Chop green onion and mushrooms and add to second smaller bowl.  Set aside.

Return to the tofu.  Dice into small, even sized piece and add to a zip top bag with 1/4 cup soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, and 1 teaspoon ginger.  Toss to combine and refrigerate to marinate (you can do this step hours ahead for more flavor in the tofu).

Add two tablespoons sesame oil to a wok or large pan.  Heat to medium with the minced garlic and red pepper flakes.  Add the vegetables from the larger bowl (bok choy mix) and stir fry, stirring often, until bok choy wilts, about 5 minutes.

Return the vegetables to their bowl and pull out the tofu.  Add another tablespoon sesame oil to the pan and brown tofu on all side, about 10 minutes on medium heat.  Move tofu to a bowl.

Return bok choy mix to the pan, and add the second smaller bowl of mushrooms and green onion; stir fry about 3 minutes.  Add back the tofu, top with 1/4 cup soy sauce plus more to taste, and teaspoon of fish oil if desired.  Heat through.

Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and serve with sticky or stir fried rice.  Enjoy!

Chicken & Yellow Rice “Arroz con Pollo”

This is a classic Spanish comfort food and a family favorite.

If you asked my family what my signature dish is, this would be it.  I make it whenever they come over for dinner!

I most often use chicken thighs, but you can also use a whole cut-up chicken (more authentic) and double the rice recipe. This recipe will give you a stickier rice (versus some recipes where “dry” yellow rice is the result).

Here’s my yellow rice recipe.  If you don’t want to make your own rice, use the kind you can buy in the yellow bag.  I make my own to avoid the MSG!  Everything else is the same.

This comes out best in a dutch (french) oven or other heavy cooking pot with a tight lid. But you can bake it; see the directions below.

Peas are a common addition; add them after the rice is mixed in, before you add the chicken back.  Then you’ll have a true one-pot meal!


Arroz con pollo with all the fixin’s for tacos.

Chicken & Yellow Rice Arroz Amarillo

Note: Reduce the water called for in the rice recipe by  1/4 to 1/2 cup.  The juices in the chicken will make up the difference.  Check your pan drippings before adding the water & broth and adjust accordingly.

  • 1 whole cut up chicken, or 6-8 bone-in chicken thighs, skin on
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil

and either:

  • one pound (16oz., 8 servings) prepackaged yellow rice

If making the rice from scratch, add the pinch of saffron to a few tablespoons of near-boiling water.  Set aside.

In a large (at least 6qt.) dutch oven (or skillet with a tight lid), saute the garlic and onion over medium-high in oil until soft, about 10 minutes.  Empty to a bowl and set aside.

Salt and pepper the chicken.  In the same skillet, brown chicken on both sides over medium heat, about 7 minutes per side.  Remove chicken to a plate.  Do not drain the pan juices.

Add the water and chicken broth to the pan and bring to a boil.

Crush the saffron strands with the back of a spoon.  Add the saffron and water, spice mix, and rice to the boil and stir to combine (or add your bagged rice here).

(Add frozen peas here if desired.)

Boil 1 more minute and add the chicken back.  Cover tightly and simmer 20-25 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed.

You can put the finished pot in the oven on warm if not ready to serve immediately.

Garnish with cilantro, if desired.  Enjoy!

To bake instead: If you don’t have a heavy covered pot that can go on the stove, saute the garlic and onion in a pan, then remove to a bowl. Season the chicken and brown all over in the same pan. While chicken cooks, combine the rice, seasonings and water/chicken broth (use full amount of water, and maybe a little extra) in an oven-safe baker, then nestle the chicken down under the rice. This recipe will fit in a 3.5qt baker. If your cooking vessel is very deep, you might need to add another 1/2 cup of rice and 1 cup of liquid (and a bit more spice mix, if desired). Cover and bake at 350°F for 1-2 hours (cooking time will depend on your baker, just check it every 30 minutes after it’s been cooking for an hour) or until chicken is falling off the bone.



Homemade Yellow Rice “Arroz Amarillo”

It’s pretty obvious that Spanish food is a family favorite.  Black beans and yellow rice is one of my daughter’s favorite foods!

Yellow rice.  You’ve probably eaten it many times before.  How many times did you make it at home using one of the various brands in the yellow bags?

Ever looked at the ingredients?  In the Vigo brand – our favorite – MSG is prominent.

This means my sister with Celiac disease can’t eat it.  Which means she can’t eat my chicken and yellow rice!

There must be a better way.  I set out to find a solution.

Here it is.  My from-scratch arroz amarillo.  Yes, there are a lot of spices.  But if you want it to taste like the bagged kind, you need them!

You also need the saffron.  It’s not the same without it.

Make this once.  If you love it, premix the spices (minus the salt and saffron) in bulk in a jar.  Then you can just scoop the needed amount out pronto (2 1/2 teaspoons mixed spices, plus saffron and desired salt per 2 cups of uncooked rice).

You can use any kind of white rice; but if you have it, use a short grained (pearl) variety like Calasparra. The texture is noticeably different. Some grocery stores carry short grained rice, or I’ve used La Tienda to purchase authentic products before.  La Tienda also sells a very high quality saffron that’s amazing.

This will work with brown rice too, if that’s your fancy – just be sure to use the amount of water called for on the rice’s package.  Don’t use instant rice!

I promise you won’t find this recipe anywhere else, because I looked long and hard for one!

Oh, the color!  And it tastes as good as it looks!

2013-09-28 16.55.35

Homemade Yellow Rice Arroz Amarillo

Yield 4 cups.

  • 2 cups white long grain rice
  • 2 cups gluten free low sodium chicken broth, such as College Inn brand
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 a large onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil

the spice mix:

  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • touch of cinnamon (very very little!)
  • 1 pinch saffron (about 20 strands)
  • 1 – 2 teaspoons salt, to taste

Add a pinch of saffron to a few tablespoons of hot water (this will help the saffron “bloom”), and set aside.

In a deep skillet with a tight fitting lid, saute garlic and onion in the canola oil until soft, about 10 minutes.  Don’t let the garlic burn!

Measure out the spices and set aside.

Using the back of a spoon, crush the saffron strands.

Add the saffron with its water to the onion and garlic mixture.  Then add the water, chicken broth, and spice mix and stir to combine.

Add the rice and stir constantly until a boil is achieved.  Cover with lid and reduce heat to low.  Simmer on low for 20 minutes or until water is absorbed.  If using brown rice, cook per package directions.  Enjoy!


Fiesta Rice

This is a super flavorful, easy side dish that gets your veggies and starch all in one!

But it’s great with all sorts of Spanish dishes.  Buy low sodium or no sodium added canned vegetables and rinse and drain them well to cut out excess salt.  Try topping with cheese, fresh cilantro or sour cream!

Fiesta Rice

  • 1 cup uncooked white rice (do not use instant cook rice)
  • 2 cups low sodium chicken broth or water
  • 1 can low sodium black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can low sodium sweet corn, drained and rinsed
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon chili powder
  • pinch of garlic powder
  • salt to taste, if desired

Mix all ingredients in a pot; bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to a simmer.  Cook until rice is tender and water is absorbed, about 20-25 minutes (use your rice’s cooking instructions as a guide)

Serve with cheese, cilantro or sour cream.  Goes great with my adobo chicken, or alongside enchiladas or tacos.  Enjoy!