Sep 28, 2010

My Pot Problem

Are you a freak like me?
Just say yes.  Even if it isn't true.

It'll make me feel better.

When I start dinner, there's a little routine I go through.  Before cooking I first ask myself:
Which pot do I usually use for this?

Sometimes I haven't made a dish in a while.   It might take me a good ten minutes of standing in the middle of the kitchen, turning around in a slow, tight circle, eyes skimming each cabinet, thinking about the pots and pans and bowls that each holds.  And wondering:
What do I usually use for this? 

I could just jump in and cook so my poor family can eat at a decent time.  I could.  But I can't.  Know what I mean? Here's where you say yes again.  Don't want to be the sole resident of weirdoville.

In my (very weak) defense, sometimes it matters.  It really does.  I have two Dutch ovens.  Which do I usually use for the pot roast that's baked?  And does it matter?  You bet!  One is completely oven safe.  The other has plastic handles. 

So there!

Sometimes it's not practicality but aesthetics that bring on my pre-dinner spinning and chanting.  The pasta with olives, parsley, and lemon that we like so much just looks (and therefore tastes) better when served in this bowl.

So there!  Again!

Imagine the dinner delay when I revived a recipe I found in a stack of yellowed index cards.  Hadn't made it in at least a dozen years.  It's something I came up with when I was first married and had limited food in the house garage apartment.  And I had practically no cookbooks.  And definitely no Google because your average Jane didn't even have a home computer. 

Oh, but we had pork chops.  Because I could get huge packs for super cheap.

So recently there I was slowly spinning around in my kitchen staring at the cabinets, engaged in my pre-cooking ritual.  Chanting to myself (yeah, to least there's that.):

What did I use for this?
What did I use for this?
What did I use for this?
What did I use

Oh crap.  I used the electric skillet.  The electric skillet whose heat element gave out back in the late 90s.  The electric skillet I never replaced.

I admit this threw me off.  There were visions of wheels flying off my dinner cart.  Or maybe I was just dizzy from the extended spinning. But I found a replacement pan.

Now about that broccoli casserole I made last year...what did I use for it?

Mise en place for Saucy Pork Chops:
4-6 pork chops, Worcestershire sauce, seasonings such as salt, pepper, Tony's (whatever you like), oil or a mix of oil and butter, onion, green pepper, garlic, 1 large can diced tomatoes, green onions &/or parsley to finish,
cooked rice

Note: Normally I'd use bell pepper, but I had a leftover poblano pepper.  My motto is use what you have.
The tomato sauce is for stretching the meal.  I'll get to that later on.

First, rub each pork chop with Worcestershire sauce.  Then liberally season with a mixture of salt, pepper, and Tony's (or whatever your little heart desires, cher).
Let the chops sit while you chop this and that, open cans,
and spin and chant while searching for the right pan.
Heat the oil, then brown the pork chops on both sides.

Afterwards, your pan will look like this. 
You might say, "You little so and so!  Look what you made me do to the pan I worked so hard chanting about."
If you say that, you clearly have not been a loyal follower.
All this gunk on the bottom of the pan will give you one amazing sauce.
Almost as if you performed some kind of ritual.

Either remove the chops or scoot them off to the side.
Add the chopped onion and green pepper and saute.  Use them to help scrape the pan.  If needed, use some liquid from the tomatoes.
See?  That pan'll be just fine.

When the onions and peppers are soft, add the garlic and saute a few more minutes.  I like to wait to add garlic so it doesn't burn.

Next, add the tomatoes (don't drain).  Also add the chops back to your pan if you took them out earlier.
Simmer until the sauce thickens up and the pork chops are cooked through.
Don't let the sauce boil or the chops will be tough.
If the chops were very well seasoned, you shouldn't need to add anything else to the sauce.  Just taste to be sure.

Don't forget to make the rice.
Just before serving, add green onion and/or parsley to the sauce.

And here ya go...

Here's a little trick to help stretch things.  Served as above, each person would take a pork chop.  And let's be honest.  Most of the time, pork chops and chicken breasts are way bigger than a serving size should be.  If you're cooking on a tight budget like I was when I first made this dish, cut each chop into pieces before browning and add a can of tomato sauce along with the tomatoes.

I'm always amazed at how much farther I can stretch the few measly pork chops from the back of the freezer or a pound of chicken breasts when I cut them up.

Linked to the following:

What's On the Menu Wednesday @ Dining With Debbie
Tip Day Thursday Carnival @ Around My Family Table

Saucy Pork Chops
from Ms. enPlace

4-6 pork chops
Worcestershire sauce
salt, pepper, Cajun seasoning, all to taste
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
½ green bell pepper, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
cooked white rice
2 green onions, chopped

Rub Worcestershire sauce on each chop (both sides). Season each side with your choice of seasonings and rub. Set aside for about 8-10 minutes. Chop the onions, bell pepper, and garlic while you wait.

Add butter and olive oil to large skillet and heat over medium high to high. When the oil and butter are hot, add the pork chops and brown on both sides. Dobatches if needed.

Lower the temperature to medium and remove the chops from the pan or move them to the side. Add the onion and bell pepper and sauté while scraping to remove any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add some of the liquid from the tomatoes if needed. When the onion and bell pepper are tender, add the garlic and sauté a few more minutes.

Lower the temperature to a simmer and add the tomatoes with their juices. If your chops were well seasoned, there’s no need to season further. Simmer until sauce is thickened and chops are cooked through. Add green onions just before serving. Serve over rice.


  1. Hey,dear,i really love the post and bookmark it. thanks for sharing!Cheers!

  2. Oh my goodness...those look great! And I totally do the pan thing too! Good to know it's not just me! Giggle!

  3. I'm a total freak when it comes to pots and pans. The biggest issue is when I'm cooking multiple things at once and I need THE pan for something and it's already being used. Panic!

    Remember when pork chops used to be inexpensive? Were it because they were a secret back then? I feel like they are high dollar nowadays. I'm lucky if I can get 3 for $6. Either way, I still buy them because they're one of our favorites. This whole meal looks delicious!

  4. Awesome post! I don't have too many pans so I don't have that issue!

    Great tips, I know what you mean by cutting the meat up to make it stretch. I do those kind of things sometimes too!

  5. I'm weird like you!
    (and I love pork chops)

  6. Glad I'm not the only one! And Kim, it is a big problem for me too when I'm cooking many things and need a pot that's in use.


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