Citrus fruits hopefully have an honored place in your diet. Their refreshing taste on a hot day is unequaled. But more importantly, citrus fruits contain flavonoids. According to the Dairy Council of California, they “have been shown to inhibit the growth of cancer cells and prevent the spread of tumors. Citrus flavonoids are also antioxidants that can neutralize free radicals and may protect against heart disease”… as well as preventing “the oxidation of LDL (‘bad’) cholesterol, which is an initial step in the formation of artery plaques. Citrus fruits are also high in vitamin C, and are good sources of folate and potassium. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and protects the body from damaging free radicals. It is also required for the synthesis of collagen, which helps wounds heal and helps hold blood vessels, tendons, ligaments and bone together. Potassium is a mineral and electrolyte that is essential for the function of nerves, heart contraction, and some enzymes involved in carbohydrate metabolism.”
Because they contain citrus acid, they are also great for tenderizing meats, an important aid for dieters who are trying to create flavor without fat. Not only do they add taste, this ability to tenderize makes cheaper (and tougher) cuts of meat more palatable and actually delicious. Here’s a good example of a citrus marinade from Chef Seamus Mullen of Tertulia in New York City.
Citrus Marinated Pork Chops
Mix together: 1 cup fresh squeezed orange juice, 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest, ¼ cup fresh lemon juice, 1 teaspoon grated lime zest, ¼ cup fresh lime juice, ¼ cup honey, 2 cloves garlic, crushed, 1 small red onion, sliced, 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil and Kosher salt and pepper. Marinate 4 pork chops for 15 minutes and then fry in a hot pan in a small amount of butter.
The recipe says 15 minutes, but I actually left the marinade on for more like a half hour. These were thin chops. If you use thicker ones, I would pierce the chops and leave it on for an hour.
This is a delicious recipe. I have always hated cooking pork because if it’s overdone it’s awful. So make sure to cook the chops just until their color changes throughout. Watch on the side as they are cooking and when they are white half way through, flip them to cook the other side.
Chef Mullen says to strain the marinade and cook them in the marinade. Remember that you must heat this marinade before serving because it has been in contact with the raw pork. If you like, you can sear them quickly over high heat to add taste and color. Then add the marinade and continue cooking. However, getting the color is a bit difficult since the chops are wet. They will boil first instead of searing. If you don’t mind that they aren’t brown, they will be juicier if you do not sear them.
Pair this with a fruity wine like a red Zinfandel. It would also be great with a sweet drink like a Whisky or Pisco Sour. Or if you’re on a diet, simply drink water and enjoy the citrus flavor even more.