Friday, April 19, 2013

Latin Cuisine - Braised Pork chops, brown rice, black beans and a side salad.

Braised chops, brown rice, black beans and salad

Hispanola, La Isabella, and present day is called Dominican Republic this beautiful island that bears varies names like "Quisqueya" and "Pearl of the Antilles" were also nicknames for the island . My mother was born on this tropical Spanish paradise. I had the honors to visit there before my dad perished. My sister and I went for a 2 week vacation but stayed for a whole month. I saw my family's farm there, but didn't get to see the vineyard. Hopefully, I get to visit again but with my daughter Priscilla.

There's no place quite like the Dominican Republic that's because its history is the result of a unlike mixture of influence of Europeans (Spain, French, Dutch and English), Africans (slaves brought by the Spanish) and the natives Taino - Arawak Indians. 
The distinct cultures still exist today. Besides their joy and pride of their music, sports (baseball), arts and more evident their cuisine. As a former Spanish colony, many of their dishes carry a familiar Latin feel. Lots of rice, beans, meat and seafood. Not forgetting the natives traditional plantains, yucca (cassava) and potatoes which are very rich and savory and can be found in many other Latin/Hispanic cuisines.

Because I have made many changes in my diet and opt for a healthier way of living. I have converted some of my family's recipes with healthier choices. Again without sacrificing taste. Today I made a one of my daughter's favorite dishes. Born in Miami and growing up among the Cuban culture she has also favored their cuisine.  So in honor of all  Latin culture I made this light but delicious dinner.  * Note -my daughter Priscilla nearly licked the plate clean!


2 4oz Pork Chops 
1 tbsp of oil (Smart balance)
1 tsp of Sazon Goya con cilantro y achiote
sea salt/ black pepper to taste
1/4 tsp (of each)
cumin, ground oregano, sage, garlic powder
3 c of water


3 cloves of garlic minced
3 -4 tbsp of Goya Bitter orange
2 tbsp distilled vinegar
1/2 small onion diced 


1 c brown rice (Carolina)
2 c of water
1-2 tbsp canola oil (Smart Balance)
sea salt to taste


 1 10.5 oz can of Goya black beans 
2 dry bay leaves
1/2 small onion
1/4 tsp (of each) cumin & thyme
green pepper
red pepper
1 or 1/2 envelope of chicken bouillon (check for taste)
1 tbsp distilled vinegar
2 tbsp of corn starch (optional)
water to dissolve corn starch
1/4 c cilantro fresh (garnish - optional)
1/4 c culantro fresh (garnish - optional)
1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil (Goya) (optional)


1 c iceberg lettuce
1/2 c frisee lettuce (optional)
1/2 tomato wedged
3-4 radishes sliced


Juice of half of lemon (or you can use 2 tbsp of distilled vinegar)
1/8 tsp of black pepper
1-2 tbsp of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (Goya)


Heat oven at 350 degrees.

Mojito - In a small bowl gather all of the mojito ingredients (bitter orange, vinaigrette, black pepper, onion and garlic) whisk for about a minute or two and set aside.

Vinaigrette - In another small bowl add all the ingredients for the vinaigrette, whisk to blend well and set aside.
Salad - In a medium platter lay out the lettuce, radishes, tomatoes and set aside. Vinaigrette is added at serving.

Beans -  Rinse beans (3x) and set side. On medium heat in a small saucepan add oil, onion, beans, bay leaves, green/red pepper, bouillon, cumin and thyme. Stir and cook for about 2-3 minutes then add the cup of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for another 10-12 minutes. 
Just before serving at the tbsp of extra virgin olive oil (optional)

*Note - I prefer dry beans over can beans. But of course dry beans take various steps and longer to cook. When time is of essence I do resort to the can ones. Sadly the can beans broth usually ends up a bit too watery for my liking. When I do use the can for quick meals I incorporated 2-3 tsp of corn starch and whisk water to dissolve the starch. Then I pour the mixture slowly to the beans. 

Pork chops - wash chops well then pat dry. Salt and pepper on both sides and set aside.
In a large skillet heat oil and add the chops searing on both sides. Then add the sazon goya, the cumin, sage and oregano on both sides. Braising these chops, add water around the chops halfway up the sides of the chops.  Cover and simmer for about 40-60 minutes in the oven or until chops are tender. Serve with mojito over the chops.

Rice -  wash rice (3x) set aside. In medium size pot on high heat add water, oil, and salt and bring to a boil. Add rice and stir to blend and let simmer till water has evaporated and small circles begin to form on the top later. Stir rice and removing with a wooden spoon rice from the borders of the pan. Lower heat to low and cover pan with its lid. Cook for 15-20 minutes then uncover, fork and fluff the rice. Serve when everything else is ready. Keep this in mind, try to prepare and complete  the other dishes before you begin to make the rice on the stove. Its wise that once the rice is made you are ready to serve and plate. Rice on the bottom of the pan tends to become to a very crunchy consistency when left with heat on the stove for too long. Wasting away much of the rice which its not a good thing. 

*Note -  My rice cooker is a favorite for me. It allows me to walk away from eyeing dishes that require babysitting. The built in timer alerts me exactly when to toss the rice, and the rice remains warm in the cooker. It won't built that crunchy bottom that happen when its made on the stove. I recommend this appliance for its fabulous tool for steaming a world of dishes too.

Ok I guess we are done here. Now its time to plate. When you serve the beans and chops you may add the yummy mojito. Also add the vinaigrette to the salad. Enjoy!

Per Serving


All Goya products also come in low sodium and no salt options.You can lower these by omitting the oils and of course using a leaner choice of pork chop. 

Please meet my darling daughter Priscilla Chanel


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