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Homemade flavored butter makes this pork chop supper — and many others — sing

(Photos by Scott Suchman for The Washington Post; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post)
Skillet Pork Chops With Horseradish Green Beans
Total time:30 mins
Servings:4
Total time:30 mins
Servings:4
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Short ingredient lists and simple preparation: On weeknights, this is what many of us are seeking, but too often we end up with one-dimensional dishes — no delicious surprises.

Enter compound butter, a fancy name for softened butter swirled with your favorite spices, herbs and/or citrus.

This Skillet Pork Chops With Horseradish Green Beans is a great example of how even the simplest dish can be elevated by it. Here, you sear pork chops in a skillet. While they are cooking, you make a simple compound butter, using minced fresh chives and lemon zest. When ready, you transfer the chops to a platter and, using half the butter, add a dollop to each chop and cover them to keep them warm. Then, you add green beans in the same skillet to sear. When they are ready, you add the remaining butter to the beans, along with a spoonful of horseradish, and stir and swirl until each bean is coated and flavorful.

The butter adds bright creaminess and the horseradish a little zing, but I’ve made this dish, which is from “Five Ingredient Dinners” from America’s Test Kitchen, without the horseradish and it is quite good that way, too. (The entire recipe actually includes 10 ingredients, but the ATK book’s concept is that you already have half the items needed — butter, lemons, salt, pepper, oil and a little water — on hand, so you have to buy only five.)

Flavored butter is the restaurant-style hack that will instantly upgrade your home-cooked food

Some people like to form their compound butter into logs and refrigerate or freeze them. The butter can be frozen for up to three months, if wrapped tightly. I usually stir or whip mine and put it into ramekins, so I can use them for cooking or serve them on the table for spreading on bread, rolls or muffins.

Along with being a flavor boost, compound butter allows you to use up those lingering fresh herbs. For example, this dish calls for two tablespoons of chives, but then what to do with the rest? If you make a larger batch of butter, you can use them all up. Then, the butter is great on toast or English muffins, melted into hot pasta or a baked potato.

I’ve made compound butters with so many things, including wilting parsley and fresh thyme, shriveling garlic cloves and leftover shallots.

To make it, start with softened butter. To soften, stand a stick on its end in the microwave and blast it for about eight seconds on high. This trick my colleague Daniela Galarza taught me softens the butter, but still keeps it cool. If it needs to soften a bit more, microwave it for another second or two. (Read Becky Krystal’s primer on various ways to soften butter.)

How to soften butter quickly, and why it matters for your baking

Then, put the softened butter in a bowl and whisk it until it is soft and creamy. (If making a large batch, you can whip it in a stand mixer or with a handheld mixer, but it isn’t essential.) Make it with salted butter or add a pinch of salt to unsalted butter and drop in the herbs, citrus zest or whatever flavor combinations you like. Then just whisk it until it is well combined.

One-pan pizza broccoli puts pantry-friendly cooking into quick and tasty practice

To wrap it for freezing, transfer the butter to parchment or wax paper, roll it into a log and tightly twist the ends of the paper closed. Or, if you prefer, spoon it into a small ramekin or a freezer-safe container, smooth the top and tightly wrap or cover.

Then, it is ready and waiting for you whenever you need it.

For the holidays this year, I made a sweet compound butter with maple syrup and a pinch of dark brown sugar and a savory one with minced parsley and garlic and fresh cracked pepper. I’m still enjoying the sweet one on pancakes and muffins. The savory I’ve spooned onto wilted spinach, new potatoes and steak. Delicious. Easy. Waiting in my refrigerator.

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Storage Notes: Refrigerate leftover pork and green beans for up to three days. Compound butter can be refrigerated for up to one month or frozen for up to three months.

Note: If you don’t plan to eat all of the green beans right away, don’t let the leftover beans linger in the hot pan, they will continue to cook. Place them in a storage container right away.


Ingredients

For the butter

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened but still cool to the touch
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh chives
  • 1 lemon, finely zested (about 1 teaspoon zest) and cut into wedges

For the chops

  • 4 (6-ounce) boneless pork chops, about 3/4-inch thick
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil or another neutral oil, plus more as needed

For the beans

  • 1 pound fresh or frozen green beans, trimmed and halved crosswise if fresh
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish, drained, plus more to taste

Step 1

In a small bowl, stir together the butter, chives and lemon zest until combined.


Step 2

Pat the chops dry and cut two slits, about two inches apart, through the fat on the edges of each chop, then lightly sprinkle them with the salt and pepper.

In a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the chops and cook until well-browned on both sides and the meat has an internal temperature of 140 to 145 degrees, about 8 to 10 minutes. (Thicker chops will need to cook longer.) Using tongs, stand the chops on their side in the pan, fat side down, to render some of the fat, about one minute. Transfer the chops to a platter and, using half of the butter, add a dollop to each chop. Cover the chops to keep them warm.


Step 3

In the same skillet over medium heat, add an additional one tablespoon of oil if the chops were lean and there’s not enough rendered fat from the chops. Add the green beans and lightly season with the pepper, if desired. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the beans begin to brown in spots, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the water, cover and cook until the beans are bright green, but still crisp-tender, about two minutes. Uncover and continue cooking until the water evaporates, about one minute.


Step 4

Stir in the horseradish and the remaining chive butter and cook for one more minute or until the beans have reached the desired tenderness. Taste, and season with more salt, pepper and/or horseradish, as needed. Remove from the heat.

Divide the pork and green beans among plates and serve hot, with a lemon wedge on the side.


Nutrition Information

Per serving (1 chop and 3/4 cup beans)

Calories: 386; Total Fat: 21 g; Saturated Fat: 9 g; Cholesterol: 142 mg; Sodium: 250 mg; Carbohydrates: 9 g; Dietary Fiber: 4 g; Sugar: 4 g; Protein: 40 g

This analysis is an estimate based on available ingredients and this preparation. It should not substitute for a dietitian’s or nutritionist’s advice.


Adapted from “Five Ingredient Dinners” from America’s Test Kitchen (2021).

Tested by Ann Maloney; email questions to voraciously@washpost.com.

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