Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Smothered Pork Chops, August 4, 2015

Dinner a week ago was definitely one of which Jeannene's parents would have approved. They were southerners, born and raised in coal country in Eastern Kentucky. I have so much fun listening to stories about the meals my father-in-law used to make when Jeannene was a kid. He was still a terrific cook when I met him. The first meal of his that I got to eat was Easter dinner and I was impressed. His cooking tended either to the fancy end of the spectrum (think gorgeous steaks and shrimp cocktail) or to comfort food. He especially loved to make enormous breakfasts---pork chops, grits, fried eggs. I think he would have loved to join us for diner last Tuesday. I made smothered pork chops, cheesy grits casserole, and sautéed cabbage. I never used to like grits at all, but then we visited Charleston and I acquired a taste for them.

Smothered Pork Chops
6 slices thick-cut bacon
1 lg. onion, sliced
Salt and pepper
1 c. flour
6 pork chops
1 c. hot water
1 c. milk 

Fry the bacon and set aside to drain on a paper towel lined plate. Fry the onion in the bacon fat until it's tender and a bit browned on the edges. Add to the bacon on the plate. Season the flour with salt and pepper. Dredge the pork chops in the flour. Brown them on both sides in the bacon grease, adding a bit of oil, if necessary. As soon as the pork chops have browned nicely, remove them to the plate, too. Then, add the hot water, then the milk. Stir well and bring just to a boil. Season with extra salt and pepper, if needed. Return the pork chops, bacon (crumble it), and onions to the skillet. Cover and simmer 20 minutes. Serves 6. 

Cheesy Grits Casserole
2 tbsp. butter, melted
12 oz. evaporated milk
2 eggs, beaten
3 c. cooked grits (about 1 c. dry)
1 1/2-2 c. shredded extra-sharp cheddar
1/2 tsp. paprika
1-2 dashes cayenne
Salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Mix butter with milk. Whisk in eggs. Gradually add to grits. Mix in most of cheese, setting about 1/4 c. aside to top the casserole. Add seasonings. Place in a greased 2-qt. casserole and bake 25 minutes (until browned). Top with the rest of the cheese and a sprinkle of paprika. Cook another 5 minutes, until cheese is melted and starts to brown a bit. You could probably omit the butter, use non-fat evaporated milk, and sub 2% cheese to make this healthier. Serves 6. 

Sautéed Cabbage
1/4 lb. bacon, chopped (you could also use a little oil and some veggie bacon, crumbled)
1 small cabbage, thinly sliced
1 tsp. salt
1/2 c. heavy cream (you can sub half and half and probably even low-fat or skim milk)

Cook bacon crisp. Add cabbage and salt. Cook until wilted, about 3 minutes. Add cream and cook on medium low until cabbage is tender, 10-15 minutes. Serves 4. 

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