My family will never turn down a slab of meat that’s been drenched in gravy! These classic Smothered Pork Chops are just the comforting dish my family craves during the cooler months.
Hearty thick-cut pork chops (because, let’s be honest, bigger is better) are seasoned, then seared in a cast iron skillet, creating crispy browned bits of flavor that are later used to develop a robustly flavored gravy.
WHAT IS THE BEST CUT FOR PORK CHOPS?
A center-cut rib chop is the best cut of pork to use in this recipe. Because it comes from the loin of the hog, the least used part of the animal’s body, this means the meat from this area is more tender than cuts from parts of the pig that are used more often.
The center-cut rib chop gives you the best of the hog—a tender cut of meat with just enough fat around the edges to help season the dish, plus a bone, which retains moisture as you cook the meat (but is easy to remove later).
Choose chops that are a bright pink color with creamy white fat around the edges.
- Bone in or out? A bone-in pork chop is preferred over boneless, because bones are surrounded by a small amount of fat which helps retain moisture in the meat. The bone also acts as a heat conductor to maintain an even temperature when cooking the chops.
- Thick or thin? Over the years I’ve made it a point to befriend the butchers in my city. I mean, who better to ask your most pressing meat-related questions? I’m going with the experts’ advice and using 1-inch thick cut pork chops for this dish. Thick cut pork chops are usually found right next to their thinner, center-cut counterparts in the meat case. Because we’re using a thicker cut of meat, we need to finish cooking the chops in the gravy in order to bring it to a safe internal temperature.
HOW TO TELL WHEN PORK IS COOKED
The USDA recommends cooking your pork to at least 145°F, and I recommend cooking them no higher than 165°F. The chops will continue to cook for 5-10 minutes after they’re removed from the stove, which means they’ll dry out if left to cook too long. Try not to let them exceed 170°F.
Fixing gravy to suit your tastes is pretty simple. Here are some tips:
- Too Thick: Just add a few tablespoons of beef stock (or water) to thin the gravy out as needed.
- Too Thin: Combine 1 tablespoon of all-purpose flour with 1 1/2 tablespoons of cold water to form a loose paste. Whisk this into the gravy a few drops at a time until the gravy is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
- Too Salty: Whisk in 1 or 2 more tablespoons of heavy cream to counteract the saltiness.
- Too Bland: A few drops of Kitchen Bouquet, a browning and flavoring agent that’s most often used in gravies and brown sauces. It’s essentially a heavily condensed vegetable stock that’s combined with caramel. It has an herbaceous flavor and it’s not sweet, despite the caramel. Using it will not only darken your gravy but will add even more flavor from the concentrated veggies and aromatics to this already flavorful sauce.
HOW TO MAKE GRAVY GLUTEN FREE
There are so many gluten-free thickeners on the market these days. I like to use a mixture of 2 teaspoons of cornstarch mixed with a tablespoon of cold water to thicken the gravy. This slurry is used in place of the flour and added to the pan with the beef stock.
WHAT CAN I USE IN PLACE OF HEAVY CREAM?
If you want to make this dish a little less rich, omit the heavy cream in the gravy, or use whole milk instead.
WHAT TO SERVE WITH SMOTHERED PORK CHOPS?
STORE AND REHEAT LEFTOVERS
Leftovers may be kept for 72 hours in the fridge and reheated in the microwave until warmed through.
MORE PORK RECIPES FOR DINNER
Easy Smothered Pork Chops Recipe
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil or lard
- 4 center-cut pork loin chops, cut 1-inch thick (about 3 pounds)
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 large yellow onion, halved and sliced 1/2-inch thick
- 2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 3 cups beef stock
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 Season and sear the pork: In a large (12 to 14-inch) skillet set over medium-high heat, add the oil. While the oil is heating, sprinkle one side of the pork chops with salt and pepper.
Place the chops into the hot pan, seasoned side down, and sear for 4 minutes, or until they are a dark, golden brown. While the first sides are searing, season the top side with more salt and pepper. Flip the chops over and cook for another 4 minutes. Transfer the chops from the pan to a platter. You may have to do this in batches for a good sear.
2 Sauté the vegetables: Add the onion and garlic to the pan and cook them over medium heat, stirring frequently for 3-4 minutes or until they are softened and become a deep golden color.
3 Make the roux: Once the onions and garlic are cooked down but still a little glossy, sprinkle flour over the veggies. If the onions aren’t glossy, add 1 tablespoon of oil before adding the flour. Cook the flour for one minute to remove the raw, starchy taste from it.
Add 1/4 cup of beef stock to the pan and use your spoon to scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. The mixture will look like a very thick paste at this point.
4 Finish making the gravy: Combine the cream with the rest of the beef stock and pour this liquid into the pan. Add the rosemary sprigs and bring the mixture up to a gentle simmer, stirring frequently, until thickened.
5 Return the chops to the pan to finish cooking: Nestle the pork chops into the simmering gravy, then cover the pan. Allow the chops to simmer in the thickened gravy for 10 minutes, or until their internal temperature reaches at least 145°F and no higher than 165°F.
6 Serve the chops: Place the pork chops over a bed of mashed potatoes and smother them in the onion gravy.
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