Friday, September 7, 2012

Pork Chops with El Pato Salsa

I was sitting at work this afternoon thinking about what I would have for dinner.  I knew I needed to cook something for the blog, but what?  While looking at Yahoo!,  a video advertising Herdez salsa popped up featuring a recipe with pork chops and salsa verde.  I clicked on the ad and looked at the recipe hoping it would be paleo friendly.  I love salsa verde.

Verde?  That's not green!
No, this isn't from a paleo food website or a paleo cookbook, but I think its good to realize that there are many recipes out there that are either already paleo or can easily be modified to be paleo.  Eating a paleo diet doesn't always mean big changes and certainly isn't difficult.

Let's take a look at the ingredients for the pork alone.  The recipe includes ingredients for rice, so we'll just skip those all together.     

Olive oil:  Is this paleo? YES!  I decided to use coconut oil instead to make it even better.  
Onion: Is this paleo?  YES!  That one is easy!
Thinly sliced, bone-in pork chops: Is this paleo?  YES!  Bring on the meat!
Garlic salt and black pepper:  Are these paleo?  YES!  No problem here.  
HERDEZ® Salsa Verde:  Is this paleo? Maybe.  

After work, I went to the grocery store and found the Herdez Salsa Verde.  This is where it gets interesting.  The Herdez website lists the following as the ingredients in this product:  Tomatillos, Onions, Serrano Peppers, Iodized Salt, and Cilantro.  The product on the shelf had all of those ingredients, plus one:  Xanthan Gum.  Drat!
Notice they brag about this product being "all natural."
I pulled out my smart phone and quickly googled to see if this, as additives go, is one to be concerned about and I didn't see anything saying its horrible but did see that it can be derived from corn, soy, and wheat.  That was enough for me to put the jar back on the shelf.  Sadness.  

I looked at a few other brands of salsa verde and all had some sort of additive in it or had labels saying they may have soy or wheat in them.  My big box grocery store carries a brand of salsa/enchilada sauce called El Pato.   No, its not salsa verde, but I figured 2 cans of the green can salsa would work in this recipe.  
Yep!  Paleo!
I went home and went straight to the kitchen.  I sliced my onion  and seasoned my pork chops with salt and pepper on both sides.  

I heated my coconut oil in my saute pan.  Once it was hot, I added my sliced onions and pork chops to the pan, covered it and set the timer for 10 minutes.  The recipe says 20 minutes, but as I haven't made this dish before, I thought it would be a good idea to check it at the half way point.  

At the 10 minute mark, everything looked good.  It looked like there was about 10 minutes left to cook, so I set the timer again for 10 minutes.  I wished I had checked it at just 5 minutes more.  

The onions, while nothing smelled burnt, were clearly a little overcooked in some areas.  I added my two cans of El Pato and stirred it in.  Salsa makes everything better, right?  I turned down the heat a bit, put the lid back on and let the pork simmer for another 5 minutes.  

I served my pork chops on a bed of kale that I sautéed in homemade chicken broth and with a side of avocado.  

Cost and Accessibility of Ingredients:  The ingredients in this dish should all be available at your big box grocery store.  If you can't find El Pato at your grocery store, look for one that has recognizable food ingredients and spices.  If you find a salsa verde without additives, lucky you!  Please let me know what you found.  

Prep/Cook Time:  Prep time for this recipe is about 5 minutes depending on  how speedy you are with a knife.  The cook time was 25 minutes.  I know that either I need to decrease my heat on my stove or cook this for a shorter time.  The recipe does not give a suggested stove setting, so I used medium high this time.  Maybe medium would do for the 20 minute cook time.  

Clean up:  A great one pan dish!  I used my cheap knife, so everything but the pan went in the dishwasher.  

The Paleo Review:  Thumbs up!  This is a great weeknight dish.  The salsa was just enough to "rehydrate" some of my overcooked onions and reminded me of onions you get with fajitas.  The pork chops were moist and not overpowered by the salsa at all.  The ingredients are all at the big box store, its quick to throw in the pan, and quick to cook.  I can see this being good for someone with a family.  For me, it's given me dinner and leftovers for lunch tomorrow.  

I will have to keep searching for a paleo salsa verde, or I'll just have to make it myself for a future run of this recipe. I hope you take a second look at some of your favorite recipes and see if you can make them paleo.

On a funny note, look at what I won as a door prize for attending a staff meeting at work today.
Cancer, anyone?
I was standing at the back of the meeting with a coworker.  When they announced the next prize was this gift card, I said, "cancer" softly and then they called my name.  Anyone in the office who knows me and knows I eat paleo cracked up laughing, as did I, that I should win this.  Those who don't know me just looked at me like I was a crazy person.

Now, what to do with it?  I cannot with good conscience give it to anyone I actually like.  I'd use it to just get coffee, but there really isn't a location near me that's within my daily commute.  Does anyone have any suggestions?