It’s cold and rainy here in the Great Inland Empire of the Pacific Northwest. I pity the poor fellow who is trying to hunt birds in the desert of the greater Boise area where moisture turns the ground to slick stuff. Give me a cozy fire in the wood stove and a cup of spicy gingerbread tea. And just let me work away, leaving messes in my wake. Last night a sense of shame stole in on me and I unloaded the dishwasher so that I could clear away the day's dirty dishes.
And that brings me to another topic – pork chops. A while back, Leah shared with me “the way” she fixes pork chops. She had written out the instructions for a friend and since she was sending it to him, she thoughtfully included me. We agreed it’s not so much a recipe as “the way” she fixes pork chops. I thought it would be fun to post it and see if some readers also have a favorite way to fix pork chops.
LEAH RAE’S TASTY PORK CHOPS
- Buy very thick boneless lean pork chops. Bones in pork chops extend the cooking time.
- Use an electric skillet or very large skillet with tight fitting lid.
- Add just enough cooking oil to cover the bottom of pan.
- Dip chops generously in flour.
- Brown chops on medium heat on both sides.
- Reduce heat to simmer and add apple juice (or cider) to nearly cover chops.
- Cover pan with tight lid and keep an eye on chops, turning at least once.
- Add more apple juice if necessary. Don’t let the chops finish cooking without some juice in the pan. The apple juice around the chops help steam & cook the meat. If the pan dries out, so will the chops.
- Use the remainder of the thickened sauce to spoon over chops on the plate.
- Chops are done when they reach 160º internal temperature.
The apple juice & a tight lid are important for 2 reasons. The chops are steamed with the lid on and the apple juice adds a nice flavor. I always use an electric skillet. You can control the temperature with an electric skillet and the large high lid makes its own atmosphere to cook in. Time to complete cooking could well be 45 min. or longer. I usually cook 4 chops at a time in my electric skillet (and they fill the pan). It’s really 3 simple rules to success: tight lid, steam & slow cooking.
Leah Rae 2011
So, there you have Leah’s way. And, after the friend reported to her, she added this: “[My friend] made the pork chops in October and they were a hit. He said he used apple juice without sugar and said he wouldn’t do that again. I never thought to tell him to use apple juice with sugar, because that would make a glaze. Also I didn’t tell him to add salt & pepper to taste and he didn’t add any s&p because I hadn’t put that in my notes. It’s fine to add s&p. Today, I told him my secret weapon. Sometimes I’ve added apple pie filling when the chops are almost done. I spread the apples over the chops and cover the pan to warm the apples for about 5 min. There’s sugar & cinnamon with the apples & that really makes a good glaze. Good thing I’m not writing a recipe book!”
In reviewing some old email messages recently, I came up with this response I sent to Hallie months ago: “I, too, made pork chops today. First I put Gala apples in the bottom of the crock pot and sprinkled with brown sugar and cinnamon. Then I placed the browned pork chops. On top I put sweet potato slices and sprinkled brown sugar and cinnamon again. We'll see if it's good. I'll make Chinese cabbage salad and broccoli -- and I guess I should get to it.”
As I recall, that “way to fix pork chops” was really very good and variations on that theme can be found in cook books and online.
Usually when I say I have pork chops for dinner, Mike will volunteer to barbecue them if they aren’t too thin. He trims off all the fat and marinates them with whatever marinade we choose. But, of yore he simply brushed barbecue sauce on them, and that’s still a favorite with me.
My mother’s “way” -- the good old-fashioned “way” of her day, I suppose -- was to brown the pork chops with salt and pepper, then add a little water to the pan and let them steam until tender. In some ways, this brings us back to Leah’s recipe. Leah uses apple juice instead of water. However, Mother didn’t flour the chops.
What’s your favorite “way” to fix chops? KW