Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Low Down On Aunt Ruby's Pork Chops

When my kids were babies we lived next door to Mr. RainbowCreek's Aunt Ruby. We were poor. Not like dirt poor, but like when you have 3 kids and one of them outgrows their shoes suddenly and there goes the grocery budget poor.

So sometimes I used to go next door and literally "borrow" dinner from Ruby. She was just one of those kind of Aunt's, so when I would mention that I just didn't know what to do for dinner she would pull out a few things from the cupboard and 'frig and rattle off some instructions for how to make a certain dish and send me on my way. She raised 7 kids and she knew how to make all those good comfort foods. And she made pork chops that I craved but could not quite accomplish.

It took me a while to figure out how those pork chops always were so tender and delicious, but finally it came to me that she just cooked them for a very long time on low heat in a heavy skillet. Some things can't be done in a hurry and I guess pork chops are one of them. If you cook them that way all they need is a little salt and pepper. I prefer mine pretty peppery, but just pepper to taste and they will be good. Start them on medium and as soon as you get them brown on one side turn the heat down. Cover the pan and turn them every so often, for about 45 mins. or even a little longer if you want. When you remove them from the pan you will have the perfect makings for an excellent cream gravy.

How to make a gravy: You will need a little bit of fat in the pan for making a proper gravy so if your pork chops were too lean (yes, there is such a thing as too lean) you may need to add a tablespoon of vegetable oil or butter.

You will want to turn the heat up a little bit but not too much, and add 3-4 tablespoons of all purpose flour to the pan. Stir this around with the oil for a while to get it mixed in and slightly bubbly and brown. This should look smooth with no lumps before proceeding to the next step.

Add about a quarter cup of water or chicken broth to the flour mixture and stir this until it is mixed and smooth. Now you can turn your heat up a little more to medium high, and add some milk, probably about a cup and bring this to a boil so it starts to thicken. If it is too thick add a little more milk until it is the right consistency. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper if needed.

This basic technique of making a roux for thickening a sauce may take a little practice. The most important thing is to control the heat, start slow so things don't go crazy on you all at once and remember to taste and re-season before serving your final product.

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