One of us did a silly thing. One of us wrapped pork chops in plastic and put them in the basement freezer without dating them. We rarely put meat in the basement freezer, but this was even in the fridge’s freezer, not the deep freeze freezer. They were in the one that is the ultimate backup freezer for Christmas baking. They were lost for a long time, methinks.
When my P.S. sheepishly brought them upstairs with a roast and confessed, I sighed. How do you tell if they’re still edible? I suppose we should have just tossed them and wrote it off as bad storage practices. One of the chops had some freezer burn in one small spot and the rest looked pretty normal. But I’m no judge of meat. We’ll leave that statement right there.
I decided to take a chance and make the pork chops anyway. If they weren’t good we had leftovers and plenty of ham we could eat for dinner instead. I sprinkled salt and pepper on the chops and patted them with a coffee rub my P.S. buys. I heated a large skillet with a little oil, seared both sides of the chops well and set them aside. I’d finish them in the oven with some potatoes.
My potatoes were also a bit old, starting to sprout in places. Everything was aging for this meal, including the cook! I like to leave skins on potatoes when possible but I peeled them this time due to the sprout bumps. They were still firm and edible. I cut them into a small dice, about 1″ pieces, and layered them in a baking dish I’d sprayed with cooking spray. I sprinkled salt and pepper on them, hearing the chefs on The Chew in my mind ordering us to “season every layer”. OK! I did!
After I set the chops aside on a plate I used the drippings and 1/4 cup butter to saute a chopped onion. I let the onions caramelized slightly until they were browned around the edges. The browned butter smelled nutty and oh so good! I didn’t do a full caramelization; it takes about 45 minutes and I wasn’t feeling particularly patient at the time.
I did try a new trick I heard on The Chew from Chef Carla Hall. She suggested using baking soda, just a light sprinkling, to help speed up the caramelization. The baking soda changes the pH of the onions so they brown faster. I’m not sure if that worked, but they did seem to brown faster and the taste wasn’t changed in any way.
I wanted mushroom soup in my dish and dug into my lower cupboard that has a really big variety of oils and vinegars, and some odds and ends. We rarely buy soup anymore as I prefer to make it from scratch. But back in the corner we had a can of cream of mushroom soup that was also slightly out of code date. More aged food! I’d remembered it was back there and had been meaning to use it soon. Today was finally soon.
I actually wanted more of a golden mushroom flavored gravy over my potatoes and chops. I love that soup but the msg factor drives me away now. I looked up a recipe online for golden mushroom soup and decided I could get close to that flavor with some additions. I opened a can of diced tomatoes and scooped about a cup into a bowl. I needed tomato sauce and this would have to do. I used my immersion blender and had tomato puree in no time.
To the bowl of tomatoes I added the soup, some garlic powder, black pepper, and 1/4 cup sherry. The heck with golden mushroom, we were going sherry! I totally love the flavor of a sherry mushroom soup. I also added 1/2 cup of heavy cream and 1/2 cup of water. I used the last of the cream or I’d have added a full cup of it to the sauce.
I stirred my sauce and when the onions were nicely browned I added the sauce to the skillet and let it simmer and bubble away for about 5 or 6 minutes. I wanted the onion and mushroom (and sherry!) flavors to meld a little. I stirred it occasionally to prevent it from burning.
Next I poured about 3/4 of the sauce (gravy?) over the potatoes. I laid the pork chops over the potatoes and covered them with the remaining sauce. The food all looked pretty, we would soon know if they were edible.
I let the dish bake in the 350°F oven for an hour then checked to see how the potatoes were doing. I’d cut them small enough to cook a little faster than usual. I’ve mentioned how scalloped potatoes never soften for me? That goes for most any oven baked potatoes. They often like to surprise me and be crunchy and barely edible.
The potatoes were fork tender after an hour and I slid the dish out of the oven and onto the stove. Time to serve dinner, which might or might not be edible. Can you guess? There’s a twist to this mystery that we didn’t see coming. Much like the mysteries on TV where they are so many variables and twists it’s difficult to see the ending, this recipe post follows suit.
The pork chops were horrible! Not inedible due to age and being lost in the wrong freezer as we discussed earlier, however. The coffee rub was the culprit. I hadn’t thought to make sure the rub was still fresh! It was so rancid it tasted like.. well I’ll leave it to your imagination. After we each had a bite we decided those needed to hit the trash can, pronto. The bottle of coffee rub also hit the trash, with a great deal of force! Man!
While I was at it I checked the dates on all of the meat rubs and seasonings labels and tossed several others out. When the oils in herbs and seasonings go bad they all taste like you’re licking the underside of a dock. heh No, I haven’t done that. With just two of us around to eat meals anymore, we have things going bad more often than before. Flour, rice, quinoa, shortening, and now spice rubs are things I’ve learned to sniff before using in dishes. You learn to recognize the smell of rancid oils or your meals can be easily ruined!
We loved the rest of the meal and had some leftover ham with the potatoes and gravy. Dinner was easily fixed.
Mushroom Smothered Pork Chops
4 pork chops
salt and pepper
drizzle of oil
1/4 cup butter
1 cup onion; cut in large pieces
6 medium potatoes; peeled and diced 1″ pieces
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 cup diced tomatoes; pureed with immersion blender
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup cream
1/2 cup water (or more cream, depending on how rich you want the gravy)
1/4 cup sherry (optional; add more cream or water if omitting)
Preheat oven to 350°F
Salt and pepper both sides of pork chops and rub coffee rub on them. Place in a large skillet that’s been heated over medium high heat with a generous drizzle of oil. Sear both sides quickly and remove; set aside.
In the pan drippings add 1/4 cup butter and diced onions. Saute for 5-6 minutes until the onions are browned around the edges and the butter is bubbling and brown.
While the onions are browning peel and dice potatoes and place them in a greased 2 quart baking dish. Lightly salt and pepper the potatoes.
In a mixing bowl puree the tomatoes; add soup, sherry garlic powder, black pepper, cream and water. Mix well. Pour into skillet when onions are browned. Stir occasionally, cooking for 5-6 minutes to let flavors meld.
Pour 3/4 of soup mixture over potatoes. Layer pork chops over potatoes and cover with remaining soup mixture.
Place in oven and cook for 1 hour.