Archive for the ‘pork chops’ Category

As I have said before, I rarely use a crockpot. When I find a crockpot recipe that works for me, I am always surprised. Sometimes one can pitch all the ingredients in the pot, turn it on, leave it alone for 8, 9 or 10 hours. No worries, mate. Of course, your meal may be less than gourmet, but, it’s a meal. The obvious benefits of crockpot cookery aside, the results are usually less than stellar. 

This recipe was a pleasant surprise. It does require some packaged food items, but they are some that might be found in many homes. However, it is not one that can be ignored for 8 hours or more. It’s ready to eat in 5 to 6 hours, tops. So, it’s not one you can fix in the morning and have that evening for dinner. For working folks, it would be a good one for a weekend meal. Start it after lunch, run errands, take a nap, watch the big game, work in the yard. Then you’ll have a good pork chop dinner waiting for you. 


1 c. diced dried fruit, apples, apricots, raisins, cranberries (I use a mixture)

1 c. chicken broth

1/2 c. apple juice (1 small box)

3 T. butter

1/4 t. cinnamon

1/8 t. nutmeg

1 – 6 oz. package Stovetop Stuffing mix (pork or chicken flavor)

4 pork chops, 1/2 to 3/4″ thick

1/8 t. salt

1/8 t. pepper


1. Combine in a small saucepan: 1/4 c. apple juice, dried fruit, broth, butter, cinnamon and nutmeg.

2. Bring to a boil. Stir in the stuffing mix. Remove from heat. Cover and set aside.

3. Arrange pork chops in the bottom of a crockpot. Pour the rest of the apple juice over the pork. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Top with stuffing.

4. Cover and cook on low setting for 5 to 6 hours.


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Perhaps each one of you has your own favorite barbecue sauce, either one you make from scratch or one you buy off the grocer’s shelf. I can’t say that I have a favorite. It may be the one that I am eating at any particular moment. I have tried scores of bottled BBQ sauce, and have made many recipes at home. There are many of both kinds that I like, but no “stand-out favorite” comes to mind.

I try to tailor the sauce for the type of meat, and the rest of the meal, as well as for the preferences of the diners, if I am aware of them. I use a spicy dry rub on ribs and hate to mask that with a heavy sauce. I’m not fond of overly smoky sauces, so I usually pass those by at the market.

I did, however, find a recipe last week for a sauce for pork chops that uses liquid smoke. It looked interesting and I tried it. It is from the September-October, 2007, issue of Cook’s Illustrated, the second recipe from that issue that I have written about. It has a teaspoon of liquid smoke in it but it wasn’t too much for my taste. These chops also had a spice rub, applied after a brining session for the chops. This is one place I part company with Cook’s Illustrated and other cooking sources. I do not brine meat or poultry. I don’t need the extra salt and even after rinsing the brined meat I still taste too much salt. I usually fix the recipes skipping the brining steps or ignore the entire recipe.

This time, I started with Step 2 and once again ignoring the brining instructions. The pork chops turned out great and the sauce was good and easy to prepare. Here’s the recipe:

Skillet-Barbecue Pork Chops

Pork Chops (brining)
1/2 c. table salt
4 bone-in pork rib chops, 3/4 to 1 inch thick (8 to 10 ounces each), trimmed of excess fat, and sides slit at 2 inch intervals
4 t. vegetable oil

Spice Rub
1 T. paprika
1 T. brown sugar
2 t. ground coriander
1 t. ground cumin
1 t. ground black pepper
(1/2 t. salt if not bringing chops)

1/2 c. ketchup
3 T. light or mild molasses
2 T. grated onion (I just minced the onion)
2 T. Worcestershire sauce
2 T. Dijon mustard
1 T. cider vinegar
1 T. brown sugar
1 t. liquid smoke

1. FOR THE PORK CHOPS: dissolve salt in 2 quarts of water in a large bowl or container. Submerge chops in the brine, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

2. FOR THE SPICE RUB: Combine ingredients in a small bowl. Measure 2 teaspoons mixture into medium bowl and set aside for sauce. Transfer remaining spice rub to pie plate or large plate.

3. FOR THE SAUCE: Whisk ingredients in bowl with reserved spice mixture; set aside.

4. TO COOK THE CHOPS: Remove chops from brine and pat dry with paper towels. Coat both sides of chops with spice rub, pressing gently so rub adheres. Pat chops to remove excess rub; discard excess rub.

5. Heat 1 T. oil in 12 inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until just smoking. Place chops in skillet in pinwheel formation (nesting chops with tips of ribs pointing toward the edge of the pan. Cook until charred in spots, 5-8 minutes. Flip chops and continue to cook until second side is browned and charred and center of chop registers 130 degrees on instant-read thermometer, 4-8 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and transfer chops to clean plate or baking sheet. Lightly brush top side of each chop with 2 teaspoons sauce.

6. Wipe out pan with paper towels and return to medium heat. Add remaining teaspoon oil and heat until just smoking. Add chops to pan, sauce-side down, and cook without moving until sauce has caramelized and charred in spots, about 1 minute. While cooking, lightly brush top side of each chop with 2 teaspoons sauce. Turn chops and cook until second side is charred and caramelized and center of chops registers 140 dgrees. Meanwhile, add remaining sauce to pan and cook, scraping pan bottom, until thickened to ketchup-like consistency and reduced to 2/3 cup, about 3 minutes. Brush each chop with 1 T. reduced sauce and serve immediately, passing remaining sauce at table.


I hope you try this and, if you do, I hope you enjoy it.


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Pork Chop Dinner

We had pork chops tonight, nothing fancy, just chops quickly fried in a skillet. As side dishes, we had roasted new potatoes with garlic chips, steamed broccoli with Parmesan cheese, and tossed salad with red grapes and vinaigrette.

For the potatoes, I washed a double handful of medium-size new potatoes and cut them in quarters. I dried them well and tossed them with a tablespoon of olive oil and some salt and black pepper. Then I peeled and thickly sliced four garlic cloves and tossed them into the potatoes. I put it all in a shallow baking dish and into a 375 degree oven. It took about 35 -40 minutes for them to roast. The garlic slices were nicely browned and crunchy. If my rosemary hadn’t frozen this winter, I would have added some to the dish.

The vinaigrette was just an ordinary oil, vinegar, little dijon, salt and pepper mixture. The addition of the grapes gave a sweetness to the tangy dressing. Very good.

I must tell about my misuse of rosemary a few years ago. We were preparing for our annual Christmas Eve feast with family and friends, a go-all-out dinner with either rib roast or beef tenderloin every year. Certain constant items include baked stuffed potatoes, broccoli-cauliflower salad, and the piece de resistance, Buche de Noel. I usually prepare the Buche de Noel the day before and at that time, I had some extra time and made meringue “mushrooms” to garnish the platter when presenting the Buche after dinner. I also sprinkled some cranberries around the platter and, to make it even prettier, I decided to add a few sprigs of fresh rosemary. Big mistake. It wouldn’t have been so bad if I had put the rosemary on the platter immediately before serving dessert, but I put it on the platter the night before and stored it in the spare refrigerator.

By the time dessert was served, the pungent fragrance of rosemary had permeated the icing and cake. Now, I like rosemary, but not in chocolate icing, and definitely not in sponge cake. We all had a good laugh and I learned a lesson about garnishing.

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Keep those empty spice jars when you use the last teaspoon. Every now and then you will come upon a recipe for a spice/herb mixture or a dry rub. Mix it up and fill your  empty jar. Just label it and store it away. 

 I have a jar of a spice marinade from an old Julia Child cookbook, “The Way to Cook.”  It is for pork, pates, sausages, goose and duck.  Well, I don’t know about you, but I don’t cook goose or duck and don’t mix my own sausage, although I might someday. Therefore, I can only say that the spice mixture is indeed good for pork.  I have rubbed it on roasts and chops with good results. If you have an old coffee grinder you can use it to grind up anything whole.  Clean the grinder with dry rice and it’s ready for next time.

I used the dry marinade last night on pork chops and to flavor a quick sauce.  First, I seasoned the two chops with a little salt and black pepper then sprinkled a little of the spice mix on both sides.  Next, I dredged them in flour and shook off the excess.

Then I sauteed the chops in a little olive oil in a skillet.  After a two or three  minutes on each side, the chops and the skillet went into a preheated 375 degree oven for ten minutes while I got the rest of the dinner under way. We had potato salad already fixed, and I had made Greek salad dressing and washed lettuce earlier in the day.  All I had to do was peel and slice cucumber, chop some green bell peppers, slice up some roasted red pepper, halve some Kalamata olives and toss it all together with  tomato wedges and feta cheese for garnishing.

When I removed the skillet from the oven, I sprinkled 1/4 teaspoon of the spice mixture in the skillet and then deglazed the pan with 1/4 cup white wine. I added 1/4 cup chicken broth and cooked that for a few minutes to thicken it slightly and then added about  one tablespoon of heavy cream with a little salt.  I served this over the chops and it was very good.  Try it, but get the marinade ready in advance.


(Makes about 1 1/4 c., so reduce amounts if necessary to fit your container.)

2 T. each ground: imported bay leaf, clove, mace, nutmeg, paprika, and thyme

1 T. each ground: allspice, cinnamon, and savory

5 T. white peppercorns, ground


Blend it all together and store in a screw-top jar.

Use up to 1/2 t. per pound of meat

By the way, when putting your skillet in the oven to finish cooking, be sure you have an ovenproof handle.  Also, be sure not to grab the handle once it is removed from the oven.  It’s so easy (I know – I’ve done it!) to just grab the handle to stir up a sauce, forgetting that it is probably 350 degrees and will leave quite a burn after only 1 second. Keep a hot pad over the handle or find one of those grips that fit over the handle. pan-handle.jpgAmazon.com

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