One of the most shocking smacks to the face you get when you move to university is the “oh shit, I have to cook for myself all the time” smack to the face. Actually being in charge of absolutely everything that goes in your mouth on a daily basis can be quite daunting, and a lot of the time you might succumb to the temptation (read: laziness) of the 90p pizza slice or that stash of instant noodles in the cupboard that you only bought cos they were 30p.
Every so often though, it’s nice to actually cook something proper. If you can get a system going with your flatmates where you each take it in turns to cook one big meal a week in exchange for the others doing the dishes, everyone’s a winner. I’m not much of a cook myself; I pretty much just re-hash the same 3 or 4 recipes time and time again, and I’m just about reaching the point where I can maybe fit another one into my brains. This week I’m going to try and cook as many of these as possible and post them here for y’all hungry people.
The recipe below serves 2-3 and costs £10 (not taking into account items that would afterwards sit in your cupboard for you to use again), but of course the more people you cook for, the cheaper it’ll be per head.
Garlic pork chops and roast veg [RENAME SO IT'S FUNNY]
- 4 pork chops*
- 1 red onion
- 200g cherry tomatoes
- 2 peppers (I used red pointy ones, but you can use normal red or yellow ones too)
- 500g baby potatoes
- Olive oil
- Salt & pepper
- Garlic puree
*If you’re vegetarian, you can substitute the pork chops for grilled halloumi.
Preparation time is roughly 15 minutes and cooking time roughly 45 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 200ºC, or gas mark 6. Chop up the baby potatoes into halves or thirds, depending on how big they are, and then cut the peppers into cubes roughly the same size as the baby potato chunks. Do the same with the red onion, and make sure you separate the layers of onion skin. Halve the cherry tomatoes and add all your veg into a mixing bowl/bucket/builder’s hat/whatever you have handy.
Now drizzle some olive oil over the veg (8 tablespoons worth, if you want to be precise about it), cover that shit in heaps of paprika and a bit of oregano and give it a good mix. If your hands don’t look like this when you’re done, then you’re doing it wrong.
Once that’s sorted, tip the veg into a baking tray and put it in the oven for 40-45 mins. Maybe set a timer on your phone to help figure out when to start cooking the meat a little later.
The pork chops need to be tenderised before frying, so grab your tenderising hammer… what’s that? You don’t have a tenderising hammer? What are you, a normal person? OK, grab something to hit the pork chops with. It can literally be anything; a rolling pin, your flatmate’s head… I, of course used my fist and I PUNCHED THAT LITTLE PIGGY TIL IT WENT CRYING HOME TO ITS MOMMA.
Now who wants to go to market, huh?
Anyway, once you’ve beaten the shit out of those ex-animals, grab your tube of garlic paste and spread a thin layer on each pork chop. Here’s another photo, in case this task needed any more explaining:
There, you see how I did it? I did it with a spoon.
Check on your veg, make sure nothing’s on fire etc, and have a sniff cos by now they’re gonna start smelling like there’s a party in your nose and everyone’s already naked and fondling each other. Give the veg a shake and add more olive oil if needed.
The pork chops will take between 15 and 20 minutes to cook depending on how well you like them done, so time this with how much longer the veg needs to stay in the oven for. Warm some olive oil in a frying pan for about a minute on a medium heat and when the planets have aligned and the time is right, place the pork chops garlic side down. At this stage, you can spread a little garlic paste on the other side if you fancy it, and if the fires of hell and exploding oil will allow you to get near enough.
As the garlic paste cooks, it’ll caramelise around the edges of your pork chops, and the longer you cook it for, the more sexy this whole thing gets. MMM.
Now here’s the obvious part: once everything’s ready, put it on a plate and try not to inhale the whole thing at once. Then you’re done.
If you’re not a pig, you might have some veg left over, which you can warm up the next day and have with bacon and sausages for breakfast, or salad for lunch, or in a sandwich, or at 3am instead of getting that grey-looking fried chicken that only ever tastes good after you’ve downed a gallon of beer. The possibilities are literally endless. Literally.
Oh yeah, thank my mum.