If a man cannot or will not cook, he is not a man. All REAL men – manly men, if you will – know how to cook, and by cook I don’t mean scurry around a studio kitchen yelling “BAM!” and cooking stuff most ordinary chefs don’t cook, like that wretched little Emeril does on his stupid Food Network show. Honestly…what kind of serious chef has his own studio band, complete with an African-American Doc Severinsen? I learned to cook because my mother – God rest her soul – was a superb cook. When I moved out and lived on my own, I had no choice but to teach myself the arcane ways of the kitchen.
This weekend I turn my attention to the glory of slow roasted pork chops. If you are not familiar with slow roasting, please go here first. Slow-roasting the chops on low heat ensures that the pork is both tender and juicy.
4 pork chops, 1-½” to 2″ thick, bone in, fat trimmed off and reserved
2 cups thinly sliced onions (white or Vidalia)
4 cups sauerkraut, drained
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper
Heavy duty aluminum foil, 18″ wide roll
Preheat the oven to exactly 200° F. If unsure, use an oven thermometer to properly calibrate the heat.
Dry the chops with paper towel and rub on all sides with canola oil. Season with salt and pepper.
Heat a large cast iron skillet on high flame for at least 7 minutes until it’s rocket hot. Sear the chops on all sides, making sure they are well-browned and then remove from pan. Add 2 tsp butter to pan and then add onions. Saute on low heat until onions are soft, translucent and just beginning to brown. Add garlic and cook for a couple more minutes, then add sauerkraut. Mix ingredients thoroughly and then remove pan from heat.
Tear off a piece of heavy duty aluminum foil measuring 2 feet long by 18 inches wide and place it on the counter with the long side in front of you. Spoon sauerkraut/onion mixture evenly onto the center of the foil. Place the browned meat on the bed of sauerkraut. Fold the edges of the long sides of the foil together and crimp tightly; fold the short ends in a bit and crimp these tightly. Place the aluminum pouch on the top rack in the oven and place a cookie sheet lined with foil on a lower rack underneath to catch any leakage if it occurs. Allow to cook for three hours and then turn off heat.
Place pouch on a large serving platter and use a scissor to cut open one end. Lift up other end and pull away while forcing out the chops and sauerkraut onto the platter.
Serve with pork gravy, mashed potatoes and a garden salad.
Ingredients for pork gravy (save time by preparing this the day before)
Reserved pork fat
6 country-style pork ribs
3 cups water
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 stalk celery, coarsely chopped
1 carrot, coarsely chopped
1 clove garlic, coarsely chopped
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
1 medium onion, finely diced
1 tbsp corn starch
On high heat, cook pork fat in a large saucepan until rinds begin to brown. Remove any solid portions from pan and continue heating until fat begins to smoke. Add pork ribs and brown on all sides. Slowly add water to pan, then add veggies. Cover pan, reduce heat to low and let simmer for two hours. Add water if necessary to ensure that three cups always remain in pan.
Remove pan from heat and then remove pork ribs. Strain broth through a fine sieve and then skim fat off the top. Reserve the fat and return 4 tbsp back to the pan. Turn heat to high and when fat begins to smoke, add finely diced onions. Saute onions until dark brown – DO NOT ALLOW THEM TO BURN. Every so often, add a quarter cup of broth to deglaze the pan and soften the onions, helping them to break apart. When onions are completely browned, add remaining broth and reduce heat to low; simmer covered for 10 minutes.
While broth is simmering, mix cornstarch with ¼ cup of reserved fat. While stirring broth with a whisk, add cornstarch/fat mixture until sauce reaches desired consistency. Continue stirring with whisk and then add a dash of Gravy Master to darken the sauce a bit. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve on the side in a gravy boat.