Pork Chops With Fragrant Gravy

A Google search of the World Wide Web produces about nine million pages of recipes for pork chops  and gravy.  If we assume that ninety percent of the pages simply repeat recipes, that still leaves about nine hundred thousand recipes.  And if we further assume that ninety percent of those recipes have only minor differences, that still leaves us with ninety thousand different recipes.   

And if…..but enough playing with numbers.  I think that we can agree there are lots of recipes for pork chops with gravy.  To paraphrase the Preacher who wrote the Book of Ecclesiastes, “Of the making of many pork chop and gravy recipes there is no end.”

However, this is a really tasty pork chop and gravy recipe that is very simple to make.  The spices produce a hint of Thanksgiving or Easter dinner with sage stuffing in the turkey or roast lamb rubbed with rosemary.  I like ordinary milk gravy with pork chops, but this version is special.  I hope that you enjoy it too.

INGREDIENTS:

4 or 5 boneless pork chops (1 1/2 to 2 lbs.)

5 T all-purpose flour, divided

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Dash of cayenne pepper

1 1/2 T vegetable oil

1 cup whole milk, divided

1/2 tsp. rosemary

1/2 tsp. sage

1/4 tsp. thyme

1/2 cup dry white wine

PROCEDURE:

Blend three tablespoons of flour with the salt, black and cayenne pepper, coat a covered skillet with about a tablespoon and a half of oil and pour about three tablespoons of milk into a shallow bowl.   Dip the pork chops into the milk, coat them with the flour mixture and brown them in the skillet.  

While the pork chops are browning, grind the remaining spices in a mortar or crush them with a spoon in a cup.  Turn the chops and allow them to brown a couple of minutes, then sprinkle the spices over the chops and add the wine.  

Cover the skillet and reduce the heat.  Simmer the meat twenty-five to thirty minutes until the chops are tender

While the meat is simmering, peel two or three large potatoes, chop them into about one and one-half-inch pieces and boil them about twenty minutes in water seasoned with a teaspoon of salt until they allow a fork to penetrate.

Remove the chops from the skillet and keep them warm on a covered serving platter.  Stir about two tablespoons of flour into the pan and use a fork to blend the brown bits in the pan with the flour.  Add a small amount of oil or butter if necessary.  Lightly brown the flour for about two minutes, then stir the the milk into the pan and bring the gravy to gentle boil.  Cook for two to three minutes until the gravy has thickened.  Add a little more milk if the gravy is thicker then you want.  Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Serve with the boiled potatoes and a green salad.  Pass the gravy, salt and pepper.

NOTES:  If you don’t have whole milk, you can add a couple tablespoon of half and half or simply forget about it.  The gravy will be okay, if not quite as smooth and silky.

Sausage Gravy

Sausage Gravy

When we go south to visit friends and family I look forward to three specialties of southern cooks: Barbecue, grits and sausage gravy. Today you can find pretty good barbecue throughout the United States, but the really good barbecue is still made in small out-of-the-way restaurants that sometimes seem a little uninviting until you taste those wonderful ribs, burnt ends or pulled pork sandwiches.

There’s one in Kansas City in what was once a gas station and another in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, in a long low building that grew along with the business. And though it’s a days’s drive north of the Ohio River, you can get some darned good barbecue at a little take-out restaurant near Dale and University in St. Paul, Minnesota.

More than forty years ago some friends at Murray State University introduced me to a great barbecue place in Fulton, Kentucky. Wonderful rib sandwiches were served in the bar room of an old hotel by a waiter in a white shirt and black bow tie. The meat, smoked in the courtyard behind the hotel, was served with plain white bread. The only condiment was a hot sauce that you soon learned to respect. The little unlabeled bottles were plenty big. No Kansas City or Carolina sauces were allowed in the building.

There’s a restaurant along I-35/I-80 at Des Moines, Iowa, that comes close to matching that old place with the meat and sauce, in case you also like real barbecue.

As you can tell, we often stop at different barbecue restaurants on our trips south. Of course we stay at a lot of hotels too, and all of them offer a hot breakfast, which usually means a waffle machine and a slow cooker filled with sausage gravy next to a tray of biscuits. Our favorite hotels, like the Wildwood Lodge at Des Moines, Iowa, often add grits and bacon to the breakfast bar.

But when I think of a gourmet breakfast, I remember the men’s prayer breakfasts with my brother-in-law at the First United Methodist Church in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. Church chef Wayne Rountree served bacon, eggs, sausage gravy, tender hot biscuits and grits to die for. When I told him that his were the best grits I had ever tasted, he smiled and told me that there was a half pound of butter in every gallon batch.

For the lighter appetites there were a couple of choices of cereal, milk, toast, juice, and coffee. It was no wonder that the Men’s Prayer breakfasts were well attended, even though they started at 6:00 AM. I think that every church would benefit from a dedicated church chef like Wayne.

Wayne’s sausage gravy was tastier than most hotel gravies, but I think that mine is better than his. After I posted our sausage gravy recipe on our personal web site a man in England emailed me that he had been making a survey of sausage gravies and that mine was the best one he had found to date. That was a long time ago, so he probably has found another version more to his taste by now, but we still like ours.

With fresh biscuits or toast, sausage gravy makes a hearty breakfast on a crisp morning. You can use either mild or hot pork sausage.

INGREDIENTS:

1 lb. pork sausage
4 T flour
1/4 tsp. white pepper
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. tarragon
2 cups milk
Dash of hot sauce
Salt to taste

PROCEDURE:

In a heavy frying pan or skillet cook the sausage and break it into small pieces. Use a slotted spoon to remove the sausage from the pan once it is cooked. Leave the fat from the sausage in the pan. There should be about 4 tablespoons fat, but this will depend upon the sausage. If there is too much fat, spoon some out. If not enough, add some shortening or butter.

Put the flour, salt, tarragon and white pepper in the pan over low heat and blend until it is smooth and begins to bubble. Cook for about three minutes . Do not brown the flour. Add the milk all at once and cook until it bubbles and thickens. Return the sausage to the pan and stir it into the sauce. Add a dash of hot sauce. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Serve on toast or baking powder biscuits.

NOTES: This recipe serves four adults generously or two adults and one teenaged boy. Add a bit more hot sauce for extra flavor.

Sausage gravy is a good choice for brunch as well as breakfast. It goes especially well with scrambled eggs, bacon, grits and fresh fruit for a brunch buffet.

The white sauce cuts the heat of the spice, so don’t be afraid to try hot pork sausage sometime.