Pork Chops and Saffron Rice With Zucchini, Peas and Pancetta

Lunch at  home is usually  simple and has a leaning towards rice-based dishes more than pasta.  That's because my daughter and I are more partial to it and lunch is usually mom and daughter time. Rice for her should always be white sprinkled with a lot of parmigiano reggiano (parmesan) and drizzled with extra virgin olive oil but I try to introduce other ingredients other than her perennial condiments.  Just a slice of zucchini takes the whole lunch time, a lot of tears and promises to convince her to eat it but I am always positive because at least she took that slice.

Photographing food is fun but entails a lot of work. However, there's another aspect that we never discuss.  Controlling ourselves from poking the food to eat.  Yes, sometimes it's hard not to eat a little piece while looking through the lens.  It's an invitation that's hard to resist.  I always look at most of my food compositions as subjects to photograph, rarely as food to eat.  But there are exceptions, like this rice.  I couldn't resist this one. 

I find dry rubbing the pork chops with coarse salt and roasting them in the oven as the best way to enjoy them.  If there's no oven available, I just fry it in a saucepan, always with the same dry rub.  This saffron rice is one of the most rewarding recipe I came up with.  It has all the flavors that appeals to the taste then eating a plainly salted hot pork chop with it was perfect. 

Buon appetito!


Pork Chops and Saffron Rice With Zucchini, Peas and Pancetta


Serves 4
  • 1 cup uncooked basmati rice
  • 2 cups water
  • 125 milligrams or a pinch of saffron pistils or powder
  • 1 cardamom pod
  • 4 pork chops 
  • Coarse salt 
  • Pepper
  • Fine salt
  • 400 grams baby zucchini (or regular zucchini), round slices
  • 200 grams smoked pancetta (or regular pancetta)
  • 200 grams peas (frozen or fresh)
  • Extra virgin olive oil

  1. Over high heat in a medium saucepan, boil the basmati rice with the water, cardamom and saffron.  When it boils, put down the flame to the lowest heat, cover (not completely, with about 1/2 inch opening) and simmer for 15 minutes or until the rice is cooked through.
  2. Pre-heat oven to 200°C.  
  3. Prepare the pork chops in a baking pan, rubbing them with coarse salt and pepper.  Cook them in the oven until they become brown, about 20 minutes depending on the size of the pork chops. 
  4. In the meantime, in another large saucepan with oil over medium - high heat, sauté the zucchini slices until brownish.  Keep on tossing to avoid burning.  Season with salt & pepper.  Transfer them to a bowl. Set aside.
  5. In the same saucepan, sauté the pancetta until crispy and brownish.  Set them aside.
  6. In the same saucepan, add a little bit of oil and sauté the peas until tender.  Set them aside.
  7. Still in the same saucepan with oil, combine the cooked rice, peas, zucchini & pancetta.  Add more oil if still needed.
  8. Sprinkle with parsley.  Season with salt & pepper. 
  9. Serve with the pork chops.