Pork is often considered a versatile and flavorful protein that holds immense potential when paired with the right side dishes. Many people relish the idea of having succulent pork meals surrounded by an array of delicious accompaniments which enhance the overall gastronomic experience. This article will dive into a selection of pork side dishes that brilliantly complement the main course, creating a harmonious and satisfying meal.
These side dishes not only capture and enhance the flavors of the pork, but they also bring an interesting variety of textures, colors, and tastes to the table, resulting in an appealing presentation. From hearty potatoes and nutritious vegetables to refreshing salads and flavorful grains, there is something for everyone to love.
Exploring these pork side dish options will not only provide essential tips and ideas for crafting the perfect meal but also encourage culinary creativity. The combinations are plentiful, allowing home cooks and professional chefs alike to experiment with ingredients to create delicious and memorable meals centered around pork.
Roasted Side Dishes
Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Roasted Brussels sprouts are a popular side dish that pairs perfectly with pork dishes. This preparation allows the vegetables to develop a crisp, slightly caramelized exterior while maintaining a tender and flavorful interior. To make this dish, simply toss Brussels sprouts in oil, salt, and pepper, then spread them in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast in a preheated oven at 400°F (200°C) for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown.
For a touch of sweetness, honey-glazed carrots are an excellent accompaniment to pork. To prepare, cut carrots into evenly-sized pieces and coat with a mixture of honey, melted butter, and a pinch of salt. Bake at 375°F (190°C) in a single layer on a baking sheet, turning occasionally, for 25-30 minutes, or until tender and caramelized. The sweetness of the carrots perfectly balances the savory flavors of the pork.
Roasted potatoes are a classic side dish that can be easily customized to suit individual preferences. They can be seasoned with a variety of herbs and spices, such as rosemary, thyme, or even garlic. To make, dice potatoes into uniform pieces and toss with oil, salt, pepper, and your choice of seasoning. Spread the potatoes out on a baking sheet and roast at 425°F (220°C) for 30-35 minutes, stirring occasionally, until crispy and golden. Roasted potatoes offer a satisfying, hearty contrast to the tender, juicy pork.
Roasted Green Beans
Light and simple, roasted green beans are another fantastic vegetable option to serve alongside pork dishes. Toss the green beans with oil, salt, pepper, and a touch of minced garlic for added flavor. Arrange the green beans in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast at 425°F (220°C) for 15-20 minutes, or until tender and lightly browned. Their slight crunch and mild flavor make them a versatile and complementary side dish for a variety of pork preparations.
Pork salads are a delicious and nutritious way to enjoy pork in a lighter dish. They can be easily prepared and are perfect for a quick lunch, dinner, or even as a side dish at gatherings. Two popular pork salads are Pulled Pork Salad and Bacon Salad.
Pulled Pork Salad
Pulled pork salad is a delightful and satisfying dish that combines tender, slow-cooked pulled pork with crisp, fresh vegetables. To make it, pulled pork is typically placed on top of a bed of mixed greens, such as spinach, lettuce, and arugula. Vegetables commonly used in this dish include tomatoes, avocados, and onions. The salad is finished with a tangy dressing, such as a barbecue sauce-based vinaigrette or a creamy ranch dressing.
To make a pulled pork salad:
- Prepare your favorite pulled pork recipe.
- Toss mixed greens with chopped vegetables in a large bowl.
- Add the pulled pork to the salad.
- Drizzle with dressing and serve.
Some variations to consider include the addition of:
- Black beans and corn for a southwestern twist.
- Crumbled feta cheese for a Mediterranean-inspired dish.
Bacon salad is another hearty and flavorful option that showcases the irresistible taste of crispy bacon. One popular variation of bacon salad is spinach and bacon salad, which combines baby spinach, hard-boiled eggs, and crispy bacon. It is dressed with a warm and tangy bacon vinaigrette.
To make a bacon salad:
- Cook the bacon until crisp.
- Prepare the other salad ingredients, such as spinach, hard-boiled eggs, cherry tomatoes, and red onion slices.
- In a skillet, combine the bacon drippings, red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, and some honey. Cook until slightly thickened.
- Toss the salad ingredients with the warm bacon dressing and serve immediately.
Bacon salad can easily be customized by adding or substituting ingredients, such as:
- Chopped nuts or seeds for added crunch.
- Avocado for a creamy, healthy addition.
- Grilled chicken or shrimp for extra protein.
Potato-Based Side Dishes
Pork dishes often pair well with hearty, potato-based sides. Here are four popular options: Mashed Potatoes, Scalloped Potatoes, Potato Gratin, and Sweet Potato Fries.
Mashed potatoes serve as a classic, versatile side dish that complements many pork recipes. To prepare, simply boil peeled, cubed potatoes until tender, then drain and mash with butter, cream or milk, and seasonings to taste. For extra flavor, try adding garlic, herbs, or cheese to the mixture. Mashed potatoes can be customized to various tastes and appetites by adjusting the amount and types of ingredients used.
Scalloped potatoes make for a more elegant, layered side dish. Sliced potatoes, usually seasoned with salt and pepper, are arranged in layers and smothered with a creamy sauce made from butter, flour, and milk. Baking the dish in the oven until the top is golden and bubbly creates a rich, satisfying result. Cheese can be added to the sauce for an extra indulgence, and additional spices or garnishes can be used for unique variations.
Potato gratin shares similarities with scalloped potatoes, but with a few key differences. The dish is prepared by layering thinly sliced potatoes with cream, butter, and cheeses such as Gruyère or Parmesan. A breadcrumb topping is often added for a crunchy texture. Baking the gratin until golden brown and bubbly is essential for achieving a rich, flavorful result. Adding ingredients like garlic, fresh herbs, or caramelized onions can elevate the dish even further.
Sweet Potato Fries
Sweet potato fries offer a sweet and savory twist to the traditional potato-based side dish. Sweet potatoes are cut into long, thin strips and then fried or baked until crispy. They can be seasoned with spices like paprika, garlic powder, or cinnamon for an extra burst of flavor. Pairing sweet potato fries with a dipping sauce, such as honey mustard or aioli, can add another layer of complexity and create a delicious side dish for your pork meal.
Vegetable-Focused Side Dishes
Green Bean Casserole
Green bean casserole is a classic side dish to complement pork dishes. It’s made with fresh or canned green beans, cream of mushroom soup, and crispy French fried onions. To prepare, simply mix the ingredients together and bake in a casserole dish for about 30 minutes at 350°F (175°C) until bubbly and golden brown on top.
Some variations of the recipe include adding:
- Cheese: sharp cheddar or Gruyère provide a delightful flavor.
- Seasonings: garlic powder, onion powder, and black pepper enhance the taste.
- Proteins: mushrooms, bacon, or chopped ham for a heartier dish.
Broccoli rabe, also known as rapini, is a slightly bitter and nutty leafy green that pairs well with pork. To prepare it, blanch the broccoli rabe in boiling water for about a minute to reduce its bitterness, then quickly cool in an ice bath to retain its vibrant green color. Sauté garlic and crushed red pepper flakes in olive oil over medium heat, add the blanched broccoli rabe, and cook for several minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper to taste. To add extra flavor, consider:
- Anchovies or capers: for a savory, salty kick.
- Lemon juice or zest: to add brightness and acidity.
- Parmesan cheese or pine nuts: for a nutty and rich finish.
Cucumber salad is a light and refreshing side that balances the richness of pork. Start by slicing cucumbers and onions, preferably using a mandoline for uniform thin slices. For the dressing, whisk together vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper in a separate bowl. Pour the dressing over the cucumber mixture and toss well to combine. Optional ingredients to mix in or garnish with include:
- Herbs: dill, mint, or parsley for a fresh touch.
- Sesame seeds or peanuts: to add crunch and nutty flavors.
- Chopped tomatoes or bell peppers: for color and added vegetables.
Homemade applesauce is a delicious and versatile side dish that pairs well with pork dishes. It is simple to make, using fresh apples that are cooked down and mashed to reach the desired level of smoothness. To enhance the flavor, cinnamon or nutmeg can be added. The sweetness of the apples complements the savory taste of pork, creating a balanced and satisfying meal.
Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Garlic mashed potatoes are a classic and comforting side dish that pairs exceptionally well with pork dishes. Easy to prepare, they involve boiling potatoes and mashing them with butter, milk, and minced garlic. Adding roasted garlic instead of raw garlic can enhance the depth of flavor and create a more sophisticated taste. Creamy and rich, garlic mashed potatoes provide a delightful contrast to the tender and juicy pork.
Fried cabbage offers a unique and flavorful side dish that goes well with many pork dishes. To prepare, simply sauté thinly sliced cabbage in a combination of butter and oil until caramelized and tender. Seasonings such as salt, pepper, and a touch of smoked paprika can add a subtle smoky flavor that complements the pork. Fried cabbage brings a touch of complexity and depth to the meal, making it a memorable and enjoyable experience.
Comfort Food Sides
Macaroni and Cheese
Macaroni and cheese is a classic comfort food that pairs well with pork dishes. Its creamy, rich texture and flavor balance the savory taste of meat. To make this dish, simply cook macaroni noodles and prepare a cheese sauce using butter, flour, milk, and your choice of cheeses. You can then bake the macaroni and cheese to achieve a crispy golden crust. To enhance the dish, consider adding breadcrumbs, bacon bits, or various herbs and spices.
Baked beans make for a sweet and savory side that complements many pork dishes. Prepared by slowly cooking navy beans in a sweet sauce, baked beans often include ingredients like molasses, brown sugar, and various spices. This dish can be prepared in a slow cooker, on the stovetop, or in the oven. Additional flavor can be added by incorporating smoked bacon, onions, or bell peppers.
Creamed corn is a delightful side dish that combines the natural sweetness of corn kernels with the richness of cream. To prepare this dish, corn kernels are cooked in butter with onions, then mixed with a combination of heavy cream and milk. Seasonings such as salt, pepper, and a touch of sugar are added for taste. For added texture and flavor, consider garnishing your creamed corn with crispy bacon or fresh herbs, such as chives.
- Preparation time: 10 minutes
- Cooking time: 20 minutes
- Servings: 4-6
Corn pudding is a Southern favorite that pairs exceptionally well with pork dishes. This side dish is a blend of cornbread, corn kernels, and custard. To make corn pudding, combine cornmeal, milk, eggs, sugar, butter, and corn kernels, then bake until the dish is set and golden-brown on top. Optional additions like jalapeños or cheddar cheese can give this classic dish a unique twist.
Remember to consider the specific tastes and preferences of your guests when planning your side dishes, ensuring a satisfying and memorable meal.
Grilled Pork Chops
Grilled pork chops are a simple yet delicious way to enjoy pork as a side dish. To prepare, season the pork chops with salt, pepper, and your choice of herbs and spices. Preheat the grill to medium-high heat, and brush the grates with oil to prevent sticking. Cook the pork chops for 4-5 minutes per side, or until they reach an internal temperature of 145°F (63°C). Allow the chops to rest for a few minutes before serving.
- Marinade options: It’s a good idea to marinate the pork chops for at least 30 minutes to enhance their flavor. Consider using a mix of olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and herbs, or experiment with a spicy or sweet marinade based on your preferences.
Grilled Pork Loin
Grilling a pork loin requires a bit more attention, but the end result is a moist and flavorful cut of meat. Start with a well-trimmed pork loin and season it with salt, pepper, and your desired herbs and spices. Preheat the grill to medium-high heat, placing the pork loin on the indirect heat side for even cooking.
- Sear the pork loin: First, sear the loin on all sides for about 2 minutes per side to lock in the juices and flavor.
- Cook the pork loin: After searing, cook the loin indirectly for about 20-25 minutes or until it reaches an internal temperature of 145°F (63°C).
- Rest and slice: Let the pork loin rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing and serving.
Keep in mind that you can use a range of sauces and glazes to enhance the flavor of grilled pork loin. Popular options include BBQ sauces, mustard-based sauces, and fruit glazes such as peach or apple. Enjoy these grilled options for a satisfying and tasty side dish experience.
Collard greens are a popular Southern side dish, often served with pork. They are a great source of vitamins A and K, and also contain calcium and fiber. To prepare collard greens, start by washing them thoroughly and removing the stems. Then, chop the leaves into bite-sized pieces.
Cook bacon or ham hock in a large pot to provide a rich, smoky flavor to the dish. Add chopped onions and garlic, and sauté until softened. Add the chopped collard greens, chicken broth, and seasonings like salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Simmer the greens for about an hour, until they are tender and have absorbed the flavors of the other ingredients.
Red cabbage is another festive side dish that pairs well with pork dishes. It offers a unique blend of sweet and tangy flavors, and its deep purple color adds visual appeal to any meal. Begin by thinly slicing the red cabbage and sautéing it with some chopped onion and a spoonful of sugar.
After the onions and sugar have caramelized, add a combination of vinegar and red wine which complements the cabbage’s natural flavors. For a unique touch, add some apple slices for extra sweetness and texture. Simmer the dish for about 30 minutes, or until the cabbage and apples are tender.
Flaky, buttery biscuits make an excellent addition to a meal featuring pork. They work particularly well as an accompaniment to a pork roast or as a side for pulled pork sandwiches.
To make biscuits, combine flour, baking powder, salt, and butter in a food processor or using a pastry cutter, mixing until a crumbly texture is achieved. Add cold milk in a steady stream, stirring until the dough forms a ball. Turn the dough onto a floured surface, and lightly knead it before rolling it out to a thickness of about an inch.
Use a biscuit cutter or a round cookie cutter to cut out the individual biscuits. Arrange them on a baking sheet, and brush each biscuit with melted butter before baking at 450°F for about 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown. Enjoy them warm straight from the oven, or store them in an airtight container to preserve their freshness.
Top Pork Side Dish Recipes
Mac and Cheese Recipe
- 350 g macaroni pasta
- 250 g mature cheddar cheese
- 50 g parmesan cheese
- 500 ml whole milk
- 50 g baguette
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 tsp mustard
- 3 tbsp plain flour
- 3 tbsp butter
- 400 g Bramley apples
- 1½ tbsp caster sugar
- ½ lemon, juice
- Butter and salt to serve
Roasted Garlic Potatoes
- 13 potatoes, cut into 1-inch chunks
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 2 tbsp garlic
- 2 tbsp fresh rosemary
- 1 tsp salt
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 tsp pepper
Mac and Cheese Recipe
- Preheat the oven to 390°F. Cut up the baguette into chunks and spread over a baking tray. Add 1 tbsp of melted butter on top and season. Bake for 6 minutes until crispy.
- Boil pasta in a saucepan. Remove from heat before fully cooked and drain.
- In another saucepan add the mustard, butter and garlic. Cook until combined and then slowly add in the plain flour. Add in the milk and stir until you have a smooth consistency. Leave the mixture to simmer until thickened. Then remove from heat and begin stirring in both of the cheddar and parmesan cheeses.
- Once you are happy with the consistency of the cheese, you can begin to stir in the pasta. When fully coated, place into an ovenproof dish. Add the baguette chunks to the top of the mixture and bake in the oven for 20 minutes.
- Peel and cut the apples into chunks. Put them into a pan with the lemon juice, 2 tbsp of water and the caster sugar. Heat on a low temperature until the apples become soft. Then you can squash the apples down to create a thick sauce.
- Add butter and salt to your taste to serve.
Roasted Garlic Potatoes
- Bring a large saucepan of water to boil and then add potatoes, salt and baking soda. Return potatoes to boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. When potatoes are fully cooked, drain and sit them aside for a few minutes.
- Mix the olive oil, garlic, pepper and rosemary in a small saucepan. Heat gently for 3 minutes. Place the mixture over the potatoes and season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Ensure the potatoes are all coated with the mixture. Place the potatoes onto a roasting tray and roast in the oven for 30 minutes at 425°F.
- Flip the potatoes and place back into the oven for a further 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and season further to serve if desired.