Bolivian Pork Chops and Ham Hock Lentils

I adapted this recipe from a South Beach Diet cookbook. There are some changes I made due to ingredients that I had (or didn't have) on hand as well as personal taste. The original recipe called for split peas as opposed to lentils but since lentils are one of my favorite legumes and it's the only kind I had in the cupboard, this is what I used. This recipe is broken into two parts, starting with the lentils and ending with the pork chops - the lentils take much longer to make.


2 1/2 T oil (I use Smart Balance for everything)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
2 tsp Sriracha
1 tsp ground cumin
3 c. chicken broth
1 smoked ham hock
1 bay leaf, broken in half
1 c. lentils

In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, add the olive oil. Once hot, add the garlic and cook, stirring, for one minute. Add the onion, celery and carrot and turn the heat up to medium-high. Cook for about 5 minutes. Add the Sriracha and cumin, stir in well. Add the chicken broth, ham, bay leaf and lentils. Bring to a simmer over high heat, then turn down to medium-low and cook until the lentils have softened, about 45 minutes. Depending on the size of your ham hock it may take longer than this as some of the heat will be absorbed by the meat. Remove the ham hock and bay leaf halves. Lightly mash the lentil mixture with the back of a spoon, stir and let sit while the pork chops are cooking. This dish will thicken slightly as it stands.

Pork Chops:

1 1/2 T ground cumin
3 tsp ground coriander
1/2 T hot paprika
1 T lemon juice
1/2 T salt
1/2 T pepper
6 pork loin chops, about 1 1/2" thick
3 T oil

Combine cumin, coriander, hot paprika, salt and pepper in a large ziploc bag. Add the pork chops along with the lemon juice. Seal the bag and shake and rub well until pork chops are evenly coated. Heat a large skillet to medium-high heat. Add the oil and once it is quite hot add the chops. Sear on both sides, turn the heat down to medium-low, cover and cook for about 6-7 minutes. Your pork chops should be slightly pink inside and exude clear juices when pricked. Remove the chops to a tray and let stand for about 10 minutes. This will let the juices redistribute before they're cut open. In other words, your pork chops will be juicier than if you cut into them right away. No one likes dry pork and it's so easy to overcook them to shoe leather.

Dinner is done! This was a really tasty dish that my husband enjoyed as well. The lentils have this incredibly smoky and complex flavor from the veggies and ham hock and the pork chops are quite pleasing as well. Leftovers can be eaten on greens for a quick and easy salad or sliced thinly and reheated with the lentils.


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