The family and I went on vacation during kidlet’s spring break recently, and before that trip I vowed not to grocery shop to a. save money for the trip and b. use up the quickly dwindling items we already had. I’ve made pork chops on the fly with some kind of made-up sauce before and was going along that route when I decided to give my mom a call. Our convo eventually swung back around to dinner and she suggested Tex-Mex Pork Chops. It sounded really easy, I had everything on hand and so a delicious meal was born. Moms are so good that way, so thanks, Mom!
I, of course, must improvise with just about any recipe I come across, and to this one I just added sauteed onions and made up my own seasoning mixture. I love onions like my kidlet loves candy, so there was no leaving them out.
I also used pork tenderloin instead of regular chops. (You can use plain or pre-marinated – even a teriyaki flavored one; the first time I made this I used teriyaki because it’s what I had on hand. You couldn’t even tell by the end result.) We keep these little fellas on hand in our freezer a lot, and cut into about one and a half-inch thick pieces, they make the most perfect little tender chops. You can use bone-in or other types of chops, though.
The first step is to cut your chops, blotting them on both sides to dry them a little. Mix up your simple fajita-esque seasoning (or if you have a pre-made mix from the store, that’s fine, too), sprinkle some on each side and be sure to rub the seasoning into each chop.
A quick bit of time in the pan with a little olive oil, about 5-6 minutes per side, gets the cooking well on its way.
Next, throw in thin-sliced onions and allow them to release their natural juices, scraping all that yummy pork chop flavor off the bottom of the pan. This is why you want to sear those chops well. The flavor they leave behind is essential to the overall flavor.
When the onions have begun to soften, add one cup of your favorite salsa. Kick it up with some spicy heat or go mild. The choic is yours.
Right after the salsa, add one cup of heavy cream. Yeah, I know, but – but! The fat!
Shush. I’m pouring here.
The sauce will come together right away with a quick stir, thickening with almost no effort on your part. Nestle those yummy chops back into the pan so they touch the bottom and cover, lid slightly off, and let it all simmer for about fifteen minutes on medium-low-ish.
In next to no time at all, you are ready to eat! This is a fabulously easy weeknight meal and the flavor packs a punch. Serve it with plain rice to balance it all out. Sometimes our parents even have it over pasta. Brown rice would work great, too.
If Tex-Mex flavors are your thing, this recipe is what you need to try next. Enjoy!
Tex-Mex Pork Chops
from the dear mother of the Full Fork Ahead Ladies
Prep Time: 20 minutes Cook Time: about 35-40 minutes Level: Easy Serves: 6-8
For the seasoning:
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Red pepper (cayenne), to taste
For the chops:
- 2 small pork tenderloins, about 1 pound each
- 2 small-medium onions, thin-sliced
- 1 cup favorite salsa
- 1 cup heavy cream
- Olive oil
Blend the seasonings together in a small bowl and set aside. Heat a large skillet over medium heat.
Slice each tenderloin into one-and-a-half-inch thick pieces, removing any excess fat. Blot both sides of each chop with paper towels to remove moisture. Sprinkle each side with a little of the seasoning and rub it into the chops with your fingertips. When your pan is hot, put about two tablespoons olive oil in it, swirling to coat the pan. Add the chops, cooking them in batches if necessary. Cook the chops for five to six minutes per side. Remove to a plate and set aside.
Lowering the heat to medium-low, cook the onions in the juices left behind by the chops (if necessary, add a teaspoon of olive oil), scraping up any browned bits as the onions release their juices. Cook for about 8 minutes, until the onions are beginning to soften and brown. Add the salsa and cream, stirring well. The sauce will almost immediately thicken. Add the chops back in, nestling them to touch the bottom of the pan. Increase heat back to medium to bring the sauce to a simmer, lowering it once there to maintain the simmer. Cover with lid, slightly offset, and simmer for about fifteen minutes. Serve with rice or pasta if desired.
If pork isn’t your style, chicken might be a good substitute. I say might because I haven’t tried it yet, but it seems an obvious solution. Just be sure the stuff’s, you know, cooked. If using whole chicken breasts, you might need to cook them longer and/or simmer them in the sauce a little more.
As mentioned above, if you’d rather use a packet of fajita or taco seasoning already on hand, that’s fine, too, though I did like the idea of not having chemical-sounding ingredients in our seasoning mix.
Cook the chops in batches to avoid crowding your pan.
Depending in the size of the chops you use, you may need more seasoning than indicated above.