Pork Chops-cheap, easy, so June Cleaver

» June CleaverRemember June Cleaver?  I never missed a Leave it to Beaver episode & coveted June’s pearls.

For those of you who either don’t remember (you probably don’t recall The Honeymooners, Bonanza or I’ve Got a Secret either) or if your parents never educated you about “the good programs they used to have”, June Cleaver was the perfect stay at home mother.  Her freshly pressed poufy skirt dresses never had a spot on them (no Tide Stain Sticks for June) and she always wore her trademark string of pearls. If she went out of the house she wore white gloves, high heels and her make-up and hair were perfection.  When she was in the house she added a clean 1/2 apron & ditched the gloves.  She never missed greeting her loving husband Ward with a kiss and marching orders to “go talk to the Beaver”.  We never really knew what June did all day but it probably included playing bridge (can’t golf in heels) and sucking down a few Tom Collins’ before getting dinner on the table promptly at 5:00.   Other than the famous brussel sprouts incident with “the Beaver” I don’t think we ever knew what the family really ate but I do know that June didn’t have the internet, food shows with chefs throwing things around a kitchen, or hundreds of food blogs so I’m only guessing she put what my mother put on the table – meat, potatoes, vegetable, dessert, maybe a Jello mold to be creative & festive.

So what I’m getting around to is this… not every meal needs to be gourmet or even clever- it doesn’t even need to have a name! Some days I just don’t want to chase down ingredients then get into the mincing, dicing, deglazing, reglazing, sauteing… well you get my drift.  Therefore, I present to you the first in my June Cleaver recipe series.  I think I remember back in the 50’s that Campbell’s soup ran some sort of promotion/contest for recipes using good ol’ Campbell’s Soup.  So if you’re hoping for something upscale and time consuming, this one won’t be it and you can get out the food processor.  But maybe I’m expected to come up with a name for this dish – they all seem to have  a name.  How about Pork Chops with Campbell’s Golden Mushroom Soup with onion and lemon?  Or, if any of you would like to make this into a contest, send me your creative name ideas and I’ll send you a can of Campbell’s soup.  Seriously, this is very cheap, easy & the pork chops are very tender if you just leave them alone in a baking dish for eh… a long time.

– Sprinkle bone-in pork chops with salt & pepper (you can brown them in a skillet if you feel energetic).  Put in baking dish.
– Empty a can of Campbell’s Golden Mushroom Soup in a bowl, mix in a can full of water – stir then pour over the pork chops.”
– Thickly slice large white onions & put on top of chops
– Top with slices of lemons
Bake, covered at 350°, 375°, or even 400° for at least 45 minutes -longer makes them juicier.  Oh, and when you serve this remember to wear your pearls… seriously, I really loved June’s pearls.

Pork Chops in Cherry Sauce

Since we’re back to winter weather here, I’m in the mood for richer, meaty meals again.  The dried cherries and port give this sauce a sweet flavor while the balsamic vinegar adds just a little bit of tang for contrast.  This is a variation of a William Sonoma recipe that is very easy and can be on the table in 1/2 hour, however if your husband happens to forget to tell you that he’s working late you can just let this simmer in the oven with a cover almost forever and the pork just gets more & more tender.

Pork Chops with Cherry Sauce 

2     Thick cut boneless pork chops
2     Teaspoons minced rosemary
4     Tablespoons butter
2     Shallots, thinly sliced
1     Cup chicken broth
1/2  Cup Port wine
2     Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2   Cup dried cherries
Salt & pepper to taste

Press minced rosemary into each pork chop, both sides.  Season with salt & pepper (if you brine your chops first, I’d suggest leaving off the salt).  Melt 2 TBL of the butter in a heavy skillet, add chops to sear until golden brown on both sides.  Transfer to a baking dish (something like a Corningware w/glass top is perfect).

Add remaining 2 TBL of butter to the skillet over medium heat.  Saute the shallots until soft, lightly brown.  Stir in the chicken broth scraping up the browned bits then add in port, vinegar, and cherries.  Simmer to combine the ingredients then pour over the pork chops in baking dish.  Bake for about 30 minutes or until your husband/wife gets home.  I’ve also tried this sauce on steaks which worked out very well.

Bourbon Pork Chops – excellent!

Not being a bourbon drinker I didn’t have any on hand & didn’t really know what to ask for.  There’s a wonderful little package store in Marlboro with a very helpful owner.  When I ran in and asked for 1 cup of bourbon he took it all in stride & didn’t even reach for the baseball bat that I’m sure he keeps under the counter for “those” kind of customers.  He even looked up the conversion of 200 ML on the computer to come up with what looks like a pint bottle and suggested Jim Beam.  As I said, I don’t know bourbon, so if you have a preference feel free to substitute but the Jim Beam was a great choice.

I made these Monday for dinner & woke up Tuesday morning still dreaming about the buttery, brown sugar, cinnamon & apple sauce.  I even wondered how the leftovers would be for breakfast.  The actual prep time on this isn’t very long because the chops just sit in the marinade all afternoon until you’re ready to start dinner & then after browning go back in the oven to finish cooking.  Will definitely be making this again soon.

1          Cup bourbon (a 1/2 pint of Jim Beam works just fine)
¾         Cup cider
2          TBL light brown sugar
1          Tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch    Nutmeg
Couple shakes of Tabasco sauce
2-4       Pork chops boneless, thick cut (1 ½-2” thick)
Olive oil to coat skillet
2-3      Apples-I used Braeburns, peeled & cored in 1” slices
2         TBL butter

In medium bowl, combine bourbon, cider, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and a couple dashes of Tabasco sauce (if you like spicy, you can add more to taste).  Combine until the sugar dissolves, then add pork chops & marinate for at least a few hours.

When you’re ready to start cooking, heat oil in heavy skillet at med-high for a few minutes.  Remove chops from marinade (save for the sauce), pat dry, then brown on each side & on the ends.  Don’t bother to clean the skillet since you’ll be using that in the last step.  Place chops in a baking pan & cover with about ½ of the liquid.

Cover with foil & bake at 375° until cooked through – about 30-40 minutes, depending on thickness.  Take a break while the chops are baking.

In the skillet you used for browning pork chops, add the remaining ½ of the bourbon marinade, plus the marinade & juices from the baked pork chops pan.  Increase heat to med high, scraping the bottom of pan to loosen any stuck bits of pork.  Add butter, stirring until melted allowing the liquid to reduce and thicken.  Add sliced chunks of apple until just cooked –don’t let them get mushy.  Place pork chops on serving platter, pouring sauce and apples on top.  And yes, any leftovers are still great microwaved for breakfast.