The best thing about having a vacuum sealer is that I can buy things in bulk, portion it out, freeze some and save lots of money.
One of the best deals is going to Costco and picking up one of those full pork loins. They are so reasonable; it is less than two bucks a meal, not including the sides. Usually, I will cut the loin into chops and just season, sauté and make a pan sauce for them and then have them with apple sauce, but there are a million ways you can vary the preparation, so that you have something totally different every time.
When I was growing up, my Mom never used one of those slow cookers. There was no such thing as slow-cooked food when there were nine kids to feed. It kind of makes a lot of sense when you think about it. I mean, you know how when you’re hungry and you start smelling food cooking you get hungrier? One of the whole ideas of slow cooking is so you can put dinner on and forget about it and do other things. Well, if there are nine kids getting hungrier by the minute, the last thing you want to do is leave the kitchen unattended. It wasn’t that we would sneak in and make ourselves snacks and ruin our appetites for dinner: it was more like we would make snacks and there wouldn’t be anything left to make tomorrows lunches. I would need a calculator to figure out how many times my Mom would make me get up early to go to the store and buy another loaf of bread because I sat next the toaster making toast and jelly for a snack using at least half a loaf.
Anyway, every once in a while, Mom would make this pork chop dish that is as close to slow cooking as we got, only because it was a one-pan meal. Well, sometimes two if she had another veggie besides the tomatoes in the recipe. It is wicked tasty and easy to make, and it takes less than an hour to get it ready and fully cook it. It’s so easy, I don’t know why we didn’t have it more often. Enjoy.
Mrs. Smith’s Pork Chops and Rice
For 4 servings
4 pork chops about 2” thick (bone in or out)
1 C rice
1½ C chicken stock
1 can stewed tomatoes
1sweet onion, ¾ sliced and ¼ chopped (yellow or red also are fine)
1 stick of butter
2 bay leaves
1 t thyme
1 sprig of rosemary, with leaves fine chopped
1 T granulated garlic
Salt and pepper
Season the pork chops with salt, pepper, rosemary and granulated garlic. Sear on all sides in a large heavy skillet with 1 T butter and remove to a plate. Sauté the sliced onions until just caramelized in 1 T butter and place with the chops.
Sauté the chopped onions in 4 T butter until start to soften, add the rice and sauté until clear. Add the chicken stock and bring to a low boil for 2 minutes. Stir and add the thyme, bay leaves and about 1 T rosemary, and then arrange the chops pushing them down, but not scooping rice over them. Spread the caramelized onions over the chops and then pour the tomatoes over the onions. Cover with foil and bake for about 40 minutes at 350 degrees until the chops and rice are done. Discard the bay leaves before serving.
Trained under Master Chef Anton Flory at Top Notch Resort in Stowe, Vt., Smitty is a personal chef specializing in dinner parties, cooking classes and special events. For more information and archived copies of Stir it Up, visit chefsmitty.com. Smitty welcomes your questions and comments at firstname.lastname@example.org or (530) 412-3598.