I’m at a point at which I’m trying to use up the food I already have in my house before I make another trip to the grocery store for anything but the barest of bare essentials. So yesterday morning, I took out a couple of pork chops to thaw, not knowing exactly what I was going to do with them, but wanting to make myself do something with them.
When it came time to think about making supper and I Googled “pork chop recipes,” I ran across a couple of different recipes on the Food Network site for Cuban-style pork chops, the common thread in which was marinating the meat in a combination of orange and lime juices. I’m all into marinating to add flavor (though I wish I’d Googled earlier than 6 p.m. so I could have left them in longer!), I just picked up a bag of oranges at the store last week, and I always keep lime juice in the fridge. Not to mention a shelf full of all the spices I might need. So I was all set.
Orange-Lime Marinated Pork Chops
Click here for a printable PDF version.
- 1/4 cup orange juice (or juice of one small orange; mine turned out to be exactly 1/4 cup!)
- 2 tablespoons lime juice (I didn’t have any fresh limes, but the juice of one lime would probably work)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (plus extra for cooking later)
- 2 five- to six-ounce, relatively thin pork chops (for thicker/larger pieces, increase amount of marinade and cooking time)
- Spice Rub:
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea (large grain) salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin seed
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon oregano
Tools & Utensils:
- Measuring cup/spoons
- Quart-size zip-top plastic bag
- Small bowl or container for mixing spices
- Paper towels
- Medium to large heavy-bottom skillet
- Tongs or spatula
Combine orange juice, lime juice, and olive oil in plastic bag. Add pork chops. Remove as much air as possible, seal, and then smoosh around until the meat is completely covered with the marinade. Let marinate in the fridge at least 30 minutes up to 2 hours (for thin chops; thicker chops can marinate longer).
Before removing the marinated chops from the fridge, combine all ingredients for the spice rub in a small bowl and stir to combine well (make sure that you break up any lumps to ensure even distribution of all spices throughout the mixture). Remove chops from marinade and blot with paper towels—you don’t want to completely remove all of the marinade, you just don’t want them to be dripping. Preheat skillet over medium-high heat. Starting with 1/2 teaspoon of spice mix per side, season pork chops. Use whatever is left to cover any “bald” spots and to ensure thorough coverage of the meat with the seasoning.
Add about 1 tablespoon of olive oil to hot pan and sear the chops in the pan, about 3 minutes per side for thin chops. Even though there isn’t much marinade left after blotting them, what’s there will help them brown gorgeously.
Remove from heat, let rest about five minutes (like while you’re setting up your plating design for the final photo), and serve. YUMMY!
Pork chops are a relatively lean cut of meat, so even with a trace of olive oil (from the marinade and in the pan for cooking), this isn’t going to load you up on the fat grams. When the marinade has the carbs, and then you’re blotting most of it away, it’s always hard to calculate just how many you’re actually getting. I counted this as 2 grams net carbs, just to be on the safe side, and then rounded out my dinner with turnip greens (with peperoncini juice for acid/heat) and a small orange. According my calculations on FitDay, for this entire meal, it was a total of (approximately) 240 calories, 9 grams of fat, 25 grams of protein, and 10 net grams of carbs (14.1 total, 4.3 fiber).
No, they didn’t turn out tasting sweet—but that could be because I only marinated the meat about 30 minutes. But the meat was oh-so-tender and, as mentioned above, the remaining traces of juice left just enough sugars on the meat to give it a a gorgeous brown-seared exterior, which is hard to get with pork because it is so lean.
If you want to, once you finish cooking the chops, you could probably add the marinade to the pan along with a little bit of the spice rub and maybe some white wine or something to create a sauce—but that would add a lot more carbs. And I don’t really subscribe to the idea that meat needs sauces. If it’s well seasoned and well cooked, meat should be able to stand on its own without a sauce to either add flavor or moisture.
Next time, I’m going to add a pinch of powdered jalapeño just to kick it up a notch!