Coca-Cola Pork Chops

Photo: Thinkstock

1. Fast Flavor from an Ingredient You Weren't Expecting
In her new book, Come Home to Supper: Over 200 Casseroles, Skillets, and Sides (Desserts, Too!) to Feed Your Family with Love, Christy Jordan shares a last-minute pork-chop recipe that can be a lifesaver. It calls for a total of four ingredients (including the pork) and might even be on the table in 20 minutes (25, max). You simply brown the chops in a skillet with a bit of oil (cast-iron works best, since it distributes heat better than almost any other material), pour in a sauce made from cola and ketchup and let everything simmer for 15 minutes. What's left in the pan after the meat is done cooking is a caramelized, slightly sweet, thickened sauce that's delicious over rice.

Get the recipe: Coca-Cola Pork Chops
Big, Juicy Burgers

Photo: Terry Vine Photography

2. The Fail-Safe Way to Make a Moist Burger
Making a juicy burger isn't quite as straightforward as you'd think (see: dried-out hockey puck syndrome). Jordan explains her mom's smart yet simple technique for keeping hamburgers plump: She browns the patties in a preheated skillet, and then cooks them in a little bit of water (the skillet's sloped sides will help the liquid evaporate). The water will sizzle off, but the burgers will remain moist.

Get the recipe: Big, Juicy Burgers
Blake's Green Beans

Photo: Terry Vine Photography

3. Green Beans for People Who Hate Vegetables
We already know that adding bacon to pretty much anything makes it taste better—but it turns out that using a deep, hot skillet also goes a long way toward infusing potentially bland foods with deep, toasty flavor. That's the case with Jordan's 20-minute green-bean recipe, which has you cook green beans with onions, tomatoes and, yes, crumbled bacon.

Get the recipe: Blake's Green Beans
Fried Catfish

Photo: Terry Vine Photography

4. Fried Fish with Plenty of Crunch
Even if you aren't a fish person, it's hard to turn down a plate of crispy, cornmeal-breaded fillets—especially if they're served with a dollop of tangy, pickle-y tartar sauce. This recipe for fried catfish is ridiculously easy, and takes less than 20 minutes; the only thing you must do is let the oil in your skillet heat up sufficiently (otherwise you'll wind up with soggy fish, which no one—fish person or not—wants). Using a cast-iron skillet will ensure the oil remains at a high enough temperature through a few batches of frying.

Get the recipe: Fried Catfish
Simple Skillet Vegetables

Photo: Thinkstock

5. The No-Brainer Veggie Side
On nights when you have no idea what you're going to serve with those chicken cutlets or turkey burgers, this quick vegetable medley is a great fallback; and, as with all of these recipes, if this dish is done before the other ones you're making for your meal, just slide it into a warm oven, since most cast-iron or stainless-steel skillets can easily go from stove to oven. You start with a bag of frozen vegetables (or chopped, fresh ones, if you have them), and then coat everything with butter, lemon juice and some sort of seasoning blend (Jordan likes dry, ranch-dressing mix). Skillets conduct heat beautifully, so every piece of zucchini, corn, snap pea or whatever you're using will be blazing hot.

Get the recipe: Simple Skillet Vegetables

Next: The 5 pots and pans you really need


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