In 2014 and 2015, I inherited recipes written by the women in my family, including my mother, grandmother and great grandmother. Based on the dates they were alive, these recipes likely span from 1900-1985. I’m making them by following the original instructions as closely as I can. This is my history.
This week’s recipe seemed like a sure bet – just glazed pork chops, after all, but ended up giving me a fair number of problems. I often rail against recipes that specify “reduced-sodium soy sauce,” for example. I figure that if I am following a reduced sodium diet, that’s what I’ll have on hand, and I don’t really need to be directed to do so unless it makes a marked difference to the recipe. Sometimes, it does…
The first question I faced here is “what kind of pork chops?” Could be loin chops, could be bone-in or boneless, could be thick or thin cut. Looking at the specified cooking time, I hazarded a guess that it could be bone-in, medium cut chops (which tend to cook longer).
There’s another choice that the original cook would not have to make that I did: I had to make sure to get sliced peaches in heavy syrup – not light syrup, not “water with no sugar added,” not 100% juice. None of those would have created a good glaze.
You see that jar of ketchup (or “catsup,” per the recipe)? It very definitely does not still have a 1/4 cup worth of ketchup in it. This was not ideal.
I had to make a number of assumptions about the recipe to make this one work, and they didn’t all pan out as I’d hoped. The first problem was that my baking pan (a standard 9×13) was far too small for 6 bone-in chops – much less the 7 I actually had. I chose to layer the chops, knowing as I did so that it wasn’t the best solution, but that’s what I had.
I also failed to brown them quite as well as I should have – a known problem when I try to sear meat. Together, these meant that the chops gave off a lot of liquid while cooking, so much so that I lost about 1/4 cup of stuffing when I spooned it between the chops.
If I were to make this again, I’d make the following changes:
- substitute boneless chops and significantly reduce the cooking time, perhaps even by half for the first cooking, then until they reached a safe (160F) temp for the second cooking.
It tasted great, even if the stuffing ended up being a little moist. I think with the right meat and the right sized pan this could be quite good. It reheated about as well as you can expect pork to – which is sort of meh. If I had seared the meat a little better, they might have been less dry. It feels like I’m damning with faint praise here, but this really was quite good.
Cheesy Tuna Noodle Casserole*
(Makes 6 servings)
- 6 pork chops
- 1 T oil
- 1 can diced peaches in heavy syrup
- 1/4 c firmly packed brown sugar
- 1/4 c “catsup”
- 2 T vinegar**
- 1 1/2 c very hot water
- 1/2 stick margarine (1/4 cup)
- 1 box Stove Top stuffing
Season chops with salt and pepper, brown well in oil on medium. Place in shallow baking dish. Drain peaches and reserve syrup. Heat 1/3 c syrup, sugar, vinegar, and catsup in pan. [Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer and stir continuously until the liquid reaches the consistency of a glaze and has reduced to roughly half volume.] Brush part of glaze on meat. Bake at 350F for 35 min.
Meanwhile, make stuffing, spoon between chops after baking, arrange fruit around chops & brush w/ remaining glaze. Bake 20 min. longer.
*I’ve cleaned up the recipe slightly by standardizing the abbreviations and adding information where it may be otherwise unclear (particularly the directions for the glaze). Everything else is as it was written.
**I used white wine vinegar.
(Next week: “Ethel Miller’s Casserole!”)