Sunday, May 23, 2010

Smothered Pork Chops

So much for a summer like weekend as poorly predicted by weathermen yesterday. I was looking forward to a grilled dinner to take advantage of the warm weather but since that didn't happen, we settled for a more comforting dish for dinner instead. Fresh from the freezer, we enjoyed this recipe for Smothered Pork Chops that I made in advance and froze. It tasted fantastic and took about 30 minutes to warm up!...

This recipe is an example of a dish that can be made in advance and frozen. Essentially, it's a flavorful pork chop recipe prepared on the stovetop and then finished in the oven as it reheats - if you're preparing it for the freezer. Otherwise, the original recipe calls for preparing the entire dish all on the stovetop. I thought this was a really good dish and my husband picked up some flavors reminiscent of a chicken marsala, only with pork. Aside from preparing this for the freezer, the only other change I made was adding sliced white button mushrooms for more depth of flavor. Feel free to omit the mushrooms all together if you wish.

Smothered Pork Chops
recipe adapted from Cook's Illustrated

3 ounces bacon (about 3 slices), cut into
1/4-inch pieces
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups canned low-sodium chicken broth
Vegetable oil
4 bone-in, rib-end pork chops,
1/2 to 3/4 inch thick
Ground black pepper
2 medium yellow onions, halved pole to pole and sliced thin (about 3 1/2 cups) 

8 oz sliced white button mushrooms
2 tablespoons water
2 medium garlic cloves, pressed through garlic press or minced (about 2 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley leaves plus some for garnish


Fry bacon in small saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towel-lined plate, leaving fat in saucepan (you should have 2 tablespoons bacon fat; if not, supplement with vegetable oil). Reduce heat to medium-low and gradually whisk flour into fat until smooth. Cook, whisking frequently, until mixture is light brown, about the color of peanut butter, about 5 minutes. Whisk in chicken broth in slow, steady stream; increase heat to medium-high and bring to boil, stirring occasionally; cover and set aside off heat.

Heat 1-tablespoon oil in 12-inch skillet over high heat until smoking, about 3 minutes. Meanwhile, dry pork chops with paper towels and sprinkle with 1/2-teaspoon pepper. Brown chops in single layer until deep golden on first side, about 3 minutes. Flip chops and cook until browned on second side, about 3 minutes longer. Transfer chops to large plate and set aside.

Reduce heat to medium and add 1 tablespoon oil, onions, mushrooms, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and water to now-empty skillet. Using wooden spoon, scrape browned bits on pan bottom and cook, stirring frequently, until onions are softened and browned around the edges, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds longer. 

Return chops to skillet in single layer, covering chops with onions and mushrooms. Pour in warm sauce and any juices collected from pork; add bay leaves. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer until pork is tender and paring knife inserted into chops meets very little resistance, about 30 minutes. 

Transfer chops to warmed serving platter and tent with foil. Increase heat to medium-high and simmer sauce rapidly, stirring frequently, until thickened to gravy-like consistency, about 5 minutes. Discard bay leaves, stir in parsley, and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper. Cover chops with sauce, and serve immediately.

* To make ahead/freezer meal - You will need to ensure the pork chops are cooked until the internal temperature is 145 degrees if you want to freeze them. Instead of returning chops to the skillet as noted above, place chops in single layer into an oven- and freezer-proof baking dish, covering chops with onions and reserved bacon. Pour in warm sauce and any juices collected from pork; add bay leaves. Allow to cool completely before covering and freezing. When ready to prepare, defrost completely. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place baking dish uncovered in preheated oven. Bake for 30 minutes until pork is tender and paring knife inserted into chops meets very little resistance, about 30 minutes. Continue by transferring the chops to a warmed serving platter and following the last step as noted above.