Last weekend, my dad and brother paid us a visit while on their journey from Florida to Pennsylvania to help my grandparents move. It was all too short of a trip, but we had a great time. And along with every great time, comes great food. From humongous burgers and onion rings, to deep-dish pizza, fried fish sandwiches and chimichangas, we definitely indulged in man food. But I was most excited about the home cooked meal I would finally get to make for someone aside from Luke, who, as I’ve mentioned before, loves pretty much everything. I want a challenge!
So I set out to find the perfect recipe for the occasion. One that was delicious, meaty, filling. Manly. And at the same time, something simple. They’re simple people after all – in the sense that they prefer a meal of meat and potatoes to exotic fare like sushi. Heck, even Chinese food is pushing it majorly with my dad. So, after much consideration, I set out to make…meat and potatoes.
Thanks to some very thoughtful suggestions on cookinglight.com, my newfound haven for recipes and advice, I decided on this pork chop recipe with a whiskey sour cream mushroom sauce that sounded simply amazing. Definitely something a bunch of guys would like. And a gal. Even more so with a heap of restaurant-style garlic mashed potatoes to sop it all up. And so it began.
Like always, my adventure started at the grocer as I searched for products that had yet to grace my cart. This time it was rosemary, rubbed sage, and buttermilk. And, surprising as it may seem, my first pork chops. But after about 15 minutes of trying to find the right pork chops, I was a little discouraged. The recipe calls for four six-ounce chops, and I was lost in a sea of thin 4-ouncers and ultra thick, nearly 1-pounders. Some were loin chops. Some were rib chops. Others yet, center loin. And when I did find the right size, it was boneless, and I needed bone-in. I sifted for quite awhile, annoying many people, I’m sure, as I tried to convert pounds to ounces in my head and do math with an imaginary pencil in the air.
But then I recalled how the same thing happened when I was picking out chicken breasts for the stuffed chicken. And again with thighs for the Indian dish. Yet both of those meals came out great. So at that moment, I decided that it was ridiculous to stare at shrink-wrapped meat for more than three minutes. You just can’t get too worked up over details like that, because unless you’ve got an in with the butcher, you’ll probably never find cuts in the exact weight the recipe calls for. I grabbed two packs of medium-thick, center loin chops, and got out of there.
I made the meal a couple days later, after a fun day with the family in Dearborn, Michigan, touring the Ford Rouge factory. We walked along an elevated walkway, watching from above as they built F-150 trucks. I’ve never seen anything like it – a humongous, never-ending maze of people, parts and machines, all flowing seamlessly on the conveyor belt below us. So cool. And watching all those people do manual labor sure built up our appetites. So when we got home, I got to work.
First, I popped the garlic in the oven to roast for the garlic butter. This was a cinch, as I did it the previous week for the pierogies. While it roasted, I chopped the onion for the sauce, and the shallots and herbs for the potatoes.
Next, I trimmed the pork (which was much easier than those chicken thighs, thankfully), sprinkled them with salt and pepper, browned them, and set them aside. Then whipped up the sour cream sauce while sautéing the mushrooms and onions. I’ll tell you, nothing smells better than mushrooms and onions sautéing in a kitchen already full of fragrant roasted garlic. And it only got better when I added the whiskey. Although, I don’t recommend taking a huge whiff of simmering whiskey fumes with your nose only inches from the pan. It doesn’t have to be in a glass to end up in your brain. Oops. Nothing like an accidental brain buzz in front of your family. While working with sharp knives and boiling liquids.
I poured in the sour cream sauce and started to drool. It looked so good. At that point, you’re supposed to add the chops back in and bake the whole thing in the pan for an hour. But after the browning, my chops were already done. I mean, totally done. So the thought of baking them for another hour, even at a low 300-degrees, had me envisioning dry, tough meat and forced politeness from my guests.
So I posted a quick thread on the cooking light message board, and literally within minutes, I had advice. So I went ahead and baked it. Seems you really need to in order for all the flavors to soak in. I used a casserole dish (covered with foil) however, because my pan is entirely too small and old for the oven. And I only left them in for about 25-30 minutes.
While they were baking, I boiled the potatoes and mixed up the garlic butter. The rosemary smelled amazing. Like spring. And we could use a little spring around here, seeing that a few days ago, the beautiful golden leaves covering the ground were sadly covered in frost. Fall is far too short of a season.
When the potatoes were tender, I mashed them, skins and all, along with the buttermilk, broth, garlic butter and seasoning. I took out the chops and hooray! They weren’t dry at all. Although, I think next time I’ll get those mondo-thick cuts so they’re still a bit raw when I put them in the oven, creating an even more tender outcome.
I tossed a quick salad with dried cranberries, almonds and shaved Parmesan, removed the magically empty bowl of hummus from my husband's death grip, and we sat down to eat. It was great to have all four chairs filled. And the food, if I don’t say so myself, was awesome. I’ve never made pork chops before, and I've only had them on one other occasion, so I don’t have the authority to say that they were the best pork chops ever. But I can say that the table was silent while we were eating. Aside from the sounds of clinging silverware and men stuffing their faces. Music to my ears.
The sauce was delicious. Peppery, flavorful and creamy. It made a perfect gravy for the potatoes. And the potatoes – superb! Definitely restaurant style. Although, as much as I love garlic, I think I liked the herbed mashed I made in my second recipe better. Just had less landmines in there. But I loved including the skins. Next time I think I’ll do a combo of the two – start with the herbed recipe, but keep the skins and add a bit of roasted garlic.
I highly recommend this dish. It’s ridiculously easy for what you get. And what you get can be summed up with this quote, said by both my dad and my brother. “This is awesome. You’ve gotta give this recipe to mom.” So, mom. Recipe is below.
One Pan Whiskey-Flavored Pork Chops
Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 pork chop and about 1/3 cup sauce)
2/3 cup fat-free sour cream (I used reduced fat)
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried rubbed sage
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
4 (6-ounce) bone-in center-cut pork chops, trimmed (I recommend thick-cut)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 (8-ounce) package presliced mushrooms
1/2 cup whiskey (I used Jack Daniels)
Preheat oven to 300°.
Combine the first 6 ingredients in a small bowl. Sprinkle pork with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
Add pork; sauté 5 minutes on each side or until golden. Remove pork from pan.
Add onion and mushrooms to pan; sauté for 3 minutes. Carefully add whiskey to pan; cook for 1 minute or until liquid almost evaporates. Stir sour cream mixture into pan. Return pork to pan; spoon sauce over pork.
Wrap handle of skillet with foil. Cover and bake at 300° for 1 hour. Serve immediately.
Nutritional Information: Calories: 310 (28% from fat), Fat: 9.6g (sat 3g,mono 4.5g,poly 1.1g), Protein: 29.5g, Carbohydrate: 24.3g, Fiber: 1.3g, Cholesterol: 71mg, Iron: 2mg, Sodium: 546mg, Calcium: 16mg.
Source: Cooking Light, 2001.
Mashed Potatoes with Roasted Garlic Butter
Yield: 8 servings (serving size: 2/3 cup)
Yield: 8 servings (serving size: 2/3 cup)
Cookbook note: Make the garlic butter ahead and refrigerate it for up to 3 days.
2 whole garlic heads
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 tablespoon finely chopped shallots
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
2 1/2 pounds cubed Yukon gold or red potato
1/3 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 350°.
To prepare garlic butter, remove white papery skin from garlic heads (do not peel or separate the cloves). Wrap each head separately in foil. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes; cool 10 minutes.
Separate cloves; squeeze to extract garlic pulp. Discard skins. Combine garlic pulp, butter, shallots, and rosemary.
To prepare potatoes, place potato in a saucepan, and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 15 minutes or until tender.
Drain and return potato to pan. Add broth and buttermilk; mash to desired consistency. Cook 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated, stirring constantly. Stir in garlic butter, parsley, salt, and pepper.
Nutritional Information: Calories: 181 (30% from fat), Fat: 6.1g (sat 3.7g,mono 1.7g,poly 0.3g), Protein: 3.9g, Carbohydrate: 28.8g, Fiber: 2.4g, Cholesterol: 16mg, Iron: 1.4mg, Sodium: 375mg, Calcium: 39mg.
Source: Cooking Light, 2002.