Tag Archives: pork chops

Lovin’ From the Oven – Smothered Pork Chops

As you probably know, Mama D runs a pretty healthy kitchen. Fresh and light are terms often used in the posts that appear here. Every once in a while though, especially when the weather is getting chilly, she loosens her apron strings and goes for a little more gusto. Smothered Pork Chops from the oven is one such dish. It is a little richer than what I usually prepare, but it is lightened up in a few places as well. It’s the perfect weekend splurge that won’t break the calorie bank.

Pork is probably my favorite meat and pork chops are high on my list of favorite cuts. I wanted to see if I could come up with a different spin on this Southern favorite. I poked around the internet to get some background on this dish. Some called it Creole, some called it Soul Food, but everyone called it a comfort food staple. I kept some of the ingredients and a few of the techniques, but in the end it was a Mama D original.

It starts with thick center cut pork chops. Keep the bone in, the flavor it imparts is amazing. I skipped the dredge and seasoned the chops with Italian Herb Seasoning. I got a small cast iron skillet screaming hot and sprayed it lightly with Olive Oil Cooking Spray.IMG_0647 The chops got a quick sear before they took a seat on a nearby plate. I left all the wonderful bits and drippings in the pan and turned the heat to low before I added a bit of olive oil.IMG_0648 I added onions, leeks, and garlic and let them cook undisturbed for 5 minutes. I added a small pinch of salt and let them cook slowly for another 20 minutes giving them a stir every now and then.

Smothered Pork Chop Gravy can be anything from decadent and creamy to rich and savory. I opted to create a lighter sauce  without short-changing the flavor. The carmelized onion and garlic mixture was the perfect flavor base. A little Wondra Flour went in and cooked for a couple of minutes. Then I gradually added chicken broth and 1% milk and let it bubble into a beautiful thick sauce. I added some thyme sprigs while it was bubbling to give a delightful woodsy scent. Rosemary would also be wonderful as would any combination of woody herbs.IMG_0655

I added the chops back to the pan. The sauce almost covered the chops but I gave them a few turns to make sure every nook and cranny was coated. Some cracked black pepper went on the top before it headed into the oven to become a skillet full of golden love.IMG_0658The gravy was beyond fabulous. I even caught myself eating the leftover golden goodness out of the pan as I cleaned up. Gravy is meant to top something and the pork chops were delighted I chose them.

I rounded out the plate with some Polenta. I happened to have instant in the pantry so that;s what I used. I have to say I prefer the longer cooking variety as it has more texture, but this did fill in nicely. I added some sautéed spinach and garlic to the polenta as it was cooking. It made a wonderful side dish that also enjoyed a bit of gravy love.

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Smothered Pork Chops
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Servings
2
Servings
2
Smothered Pork Chops
Print Recipe
Servings
2
Servings
2
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Heat a small cast iron skillet over high heat. Sprinkle the Italian seasoning on both sides of the pork chops. Spray the skillet with the cooking spray. Add the pork chops and sear 3 minutes on each side. Remove the chops from the pan and set aside.
  2. Reduce the heat to medium and add the olive oil to the skillet. Add the onions, leeks, and garlic to the skillet and cook undisturbed for 5 minutes. Add a pinch of salt and continue to cook slowly for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally until they are golden brown.
  3. Add the flour to the skillet. Cook and stir for 2 minutes. Slowly add the broth and milk stirring to keep everything smooth. Add the thyme sprigs and continue to cook until the gravy begins to thicken, 5 minutes or so.
  4. Return the chops to the pan and turn several times to coat them with the gravy. Top with a generous dose of cracked black pepper. Place the skillet in a preheated 350 degree oven. Bake 20 - 30 minutes until the are cooked. Remove the thyme stems. Allow to cool slightly before plating.
Spinach Polenta
  1. Saute 2 cups of chopped spinach in a little olive oil with a clove or two of minced garlic. Set Aside
  2. Cook 1/2 cup polenta according to the package directions using equal parts of milk and chicken broth. When the polenta is the consistency you like, add the spinach mixture, 1 small pat of butter, and a small handful of Romano cheese. Serve.
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Mama D’s Fall Kitchen Adventures

There  is more than just a hint of fall in the air. Cool days and cooler breezes make it abundantly clear that the season has changed here. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I’m ready for Fall, at least I think I am. I enjoy the cooler days and the leaves changing colors. No longer having to rake them makes the whole process even more enjoyable. While I’m not anxious for Winter, I am ready for this change and the change in my cooking focus that it brings.

I want to share a few quick picks of what’s been happening in Mama D’s Kitchen. Many of these are Non-Recipe Recipes; that is they really are just musings on what’s in season and more importantly what’s in the house. So come join me as we a take a culinary walk back over the last couple of weeks.

I bought some Nan bread (the garlic variety) to go with a curry dish. The curry wound up being paired with some Brown Basmati Rice and the Nan was left to fend for itself. In case you’ve never thought of it, Nan makes a great quick pizza crust. It’s the perfect shape and size for personal pizza and works in the oven or on the grill.

I opted for a version of White Pizza using some of my Homemade Ricotta (thanks, Ina Garten) and Pesto. I mixed the two together to create the “sauce” I drizzled the Nan with some olive oil and toasted it in the oven briefly before adding said sauce. The toppings were Italian Sausage and Mini Heirloom Tomatoes both of which were on hand and waiting for their moment to shine. The cheese was a marinated mozzarella that was purchased on speculation, but perfectly suited to the pizza.2015-09-29 19.07.46 Once baked it was topped with some basil, olive oil, and served with baby greens dressed lightly with lemon juice and olive oil. Now, that was a delightful and very easy supper.2015-09-29 19.17.31

I found some lovely beets at the store and since they are one of Papa D’s favorites I had to bring some home. My preferred method of cooking is to roast them. This also is the most stain proof way, in my opinion. Wash them off and remove the greens leaving a little of the stem. Lay them on a couple of sheets of heavy foil, drizzle with a little olive oil and wrap them up tightly. Let them roast at 375 – 400 degrees until they are easily pierced with a knife and the kitchen has the earthy aroma of beets. This can take anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes depending on the beets.2015-09-27 19.45.11 Let them cool long enough to make them handle-able. I love beets, but beet red is not my color, so I opt to wear gloves to rub the skins off. If you enjoy red fingers go ahead and use bare hands and paper towels. Once peeled, I cut them into chunky chunks and dressed them lightly with a Balsamic Vinaigrette that was laced with some orange peel. Any dressing that you love would work here. I set them on top of some baby greens (left from guess what?) and garnished them with some goat cheese. Wonderful!2015-09-28 19.34.01

Finally I have to share another “Pork Love” dish, Stuffed Pork Chops. I have recently re-fallen in love with pork chops, particularly the thick cut, bone in, center variety. They are eating perfection. The thin ribbon of fat on the edge and the succulent bone along the side create a depth of flavor that is divine. They are wonderful simply prepared on the grill or in the oven, but I knew they were just begging to be stuffed.

This stuffing was inspired by what I had on hand and included some frozen chopped spinach, red bell peppers, and whole grain bread. Honestly anything could go into the stuffing. Leave out the bread and go all veggie, or use rice, quinoa or any other grain you have within easy reach. I started my stuffing with onion and garlic that I sautéed in a little olive oil (Is there any other way to begin?). The spinach and bell pepper jumped in and got very friendly with them. I put the bread in the toaster and then crumbled it into the veggies. I added a little chicken stock to moisten everything and packed it generously, albeit lightly, into the pockets that I had cut. I added a little wine to the pan and salt and pepper to the chops. For a crowning flavor boost I topped them with some sliced onions.2015-09-28 18.42.53

I let them bake covered for 20 minutes or so then I lifted their foil blanket and let them roast another few minutes to get lightly golden. I opted for 350 degrees because that seemed right. Baking time depends on the thickness of the chops and what’s inside…use your best guess, but do not overcook them.2015-09-28 19.38.31

The chops were scrumptious; moist and tender and positively dripping with flavor. I’ve started a mental list of what to add the next time; herbs, sausage, cheese, the ideas are endless.

So there you have it, three quick and easy kitchen adventures. Now it’s your turn to take my ideas and run with them.

 

As The Grill Burns (in a good way)

The weather has been beautiful; sunny, warm, with low humidity and occasional rain that really hasn’t interfered with anything but has done wonders for the plants. The grill has been working overtime and I couldn’t be happier about it. In fact, grilled items were part of every dinner this last week. That’s not to say I fired it up everyday, but I did use it for some “light once cook twice…or more” prep.

First up was steak. The nice thing about cooking for two with an eye on health is that a little over a half pound of Petite Sirloin doesn’t break the bank, especially when it is on sale. It’s lean and tender and loves the grill.DIGITAL CAMERA

The steak would have been wonderful alone, but we were in the mood for a little sumpin’ DIGITAL CAMERAextra. Crimini mushrooms answered the call. Mushrooms have been topping steaks forever and crimini with their hearty flavor are just the right addition. The lovely brown mushrooms were joined by onions and garlic. Cooked in just a touch of olive oil and dressed with Worcestershire sauce and a splash of sherry vinegar it was the perfect counterpoint for the richness of the steak I finished it with some a fresh tarragon to give an added burst of flavor.

Pork chops were the next protein to hit the grill. Before they went over the flame they went into a beer brine. Pork gains a ton of flavor and retains its juiciness much like chicken when it is brined. This brine recipe starts with beer, a whole 12 ounce bottle or can. This can be any beer you choose, but go with something that has some character.  A teaspoon of salt, about the same amount of sweet smoked paprika and a generous amount of dried garlic and onion created a twenty-four hour soak the left the chops plump, pink and grill worthy. Consider that a non-recipe, recipe. DIGITAL CAMERA

There is a real recipe for the Vegetable and Potato Salad that we enjoyed with our pork chops. If you missed it on Face Book, here it is:

Grilled More Vegetable Than Potato Salad
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Servings
4
Servings
4
Grilled More Vegetable Than Potato Salad
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Servings
4
Servings
4
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. To make the garlic oil: Place olive oil and smashed garlic cloves in a small pan. Cook over low heat until the garlic is lightly browned and the oil has become fragrant. Allow to cool before removing the garlic. (use the garlic in marinades or as a seasoning)
  2. Precook the potatoes: Cut the potatoes into 1 inch chunks. In Place the potatoes and a little water in a microwave friendly container. Cover loosely and steam in the microwave for 4 minutes or so. The potatoes should be barely tender. Set aside to cool.
  3. Prepare the veggies for the grill: Slice the squash in 1/2 inch thick diagonal slices. Trim the ends off of the beans. Cut the onion in half lengthwise. Halve or quarter the peppers.
  4. Heat a grilling basket and a flat grate on the grill. Coat with olive oil cooking spray. Take 1/2 tablespoon of the infused olive oil and toss with the potato chunks. Use the rest of the oil to brush the vegetable slices.
  5. Put the potatoes in the basket and the vegetables on the grate. Grill, tossing the potatoes and turning the vegetables occasionally. It should take about 15 minutes to have everything turn golden.
  6. Remove the vegetables to a cutting board. Cut in chunks that are about the same size as the potatoes. Place in a large serving bowl along with the potato chunks.
  7. Add some freshly ground pepper and a pinch of salt and toss to combine everything. Drizzle the balsamic over everything and enjoy!
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Chicken has become my new best friend, especially the boneless, skinless varieties. Breasts, tenderloins, and thighs have all found their way to the grill this week. Mama D’s new rule: If the grill is fired up…use it to capacity. We cooked thighs for dinner. They were, by the way, marinated in a wonderful herb and garlic paste that was out of this world.

DIGITAL CAMERAJoined with grilled asparagus and a Five Grain Pilaf it was another delicious and healthy dinner.DIGITAL CAMERAThere was plenty of room on the grill so I threw on a couple of boneless, skinless breasts for good measure. It never hurts to have some grilled chicken to throw on a salad or make a sandwich. Tenderloins are not just for chicken fingers. A little marinating and a skewering and they can take the heat of the grill. These were marinated in Italian sausage seasonings and threaded on skewers, They cooked quickly and were ready to become part of a pasta dish. They can also bide their time in the frig for a couple of days until you’re ready to use them.DIGITAL CAMERAThe rest of this pasta dish doesn’t come from the grill, but it turned out so well, I didn’t think anyone would mind. The sauce was mostly vegetables, zucchini, peppers, and onions. Lightly sauteed and given a chicken broth base, it was light, healthy and satisfying. The veggies would also be good grilled.

DIGITAL CAMERAThe grilled tenders with their sausage inspired seasoning gave big flavor that was able to meet the goat cheese’s creamy tartness eye to eye (if cheese and chicken had eyes). DIGITAL CAMERAEverything came together and was joined by some “Smart Taste” pasta. This has 2-1/2 times the fiber of regular, but looks and tastes almost identical.

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Penne with "Sausage" Chicken and Goat Cheese
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Chicken marinated in the flavors of Italian Sausage then grilled to give it a smokey depth of flavor. Use your favorite vegetables...you could even grill them. Toss everything with your favorite cut pasta
Servings
3
Servings
3
Penne with "Sausage" Chicken and Goat Cheese
Print Recipe
Chicken marinated in the flavors of Italian Sausage then grilled to give it a smokey depth of flavor. Use your favorite vegetables...you could even grill them. Toss everything with your favorite cut pasta
Servings
3
Servings
3
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. For the Chicken: Place the tenders in a quart size zip top bag. Combine the fennel seed, pepper flakes, 2 minced garlic cloves, 3/4 tablespoon olive oil and the Italian seasoning. Pour into bag, seal and massage to distribute the marinade. Refrigerate for up to 24 hours.
  2. To grill the chicken: Remove the chicken from the marinade. Thread the tenders on 2 or 3 skewers. Place over medium grill heat and cook, turning occasionally until chicken is cooked through. This takes about 15 minutes. Remove chicken from skewers and use in recipe or refrigerate for up to 3 days.
  3. Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package reducing cooking time by one minute While the pasta cooks, prepare the sauce.
  4. Zucchini: Cut in half crosswise. Cut each half lengthwise into 3 slices. Cut each slice into 3 or 4 strips.
  5. Onion and Garlic: Cut onion in half lengthwise. Slice thinly lengthwise. Finely chop the 3 cloves of garlic.
  6. Peppers: Cut peppers in half lengthwise. Remove the seeds and cut in half crosswise. Cut in 1/2 wide strips
  7. Heat a large fry pan over medium high heat. Add the remaining olive oil. Add the onion and cook for 2 minutes. Add the peppers and cook 3 minutes more. Add the garlic and zucchini. and cook 3 -4 minutes.
  8. Cut the chicken tenders into bite size chunks. and add them to the pan. Stir in the chicken broth slowly. You want everything moistened, but nothing swimming. You may not need to use all of the broth.
  9. Simmer for a few minutes. When the pasta is cooked al dente, drain it and add it to the fry pan. Toss to combine everything and cook another minute.
  10. Crumble the goat cheese on top of the pasta and spoon into bowls. Top with ground pepper to taste.
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The summer has just begun and I know that there will be many more grill adventures to share. I hope you are taking advantage of the beautiful weather and finding your own “Grill Love.”   Mama D