Saturday, February 25, 2017

The Littles Come to Visit and Braised Saucy Pork Chops

It's Gramma Day at my house! Actually, it's Slumber Party at Gramma's House today and I'm pretty excited about it. When The Littles, Lucas and Hayla, my adorable youngest grandchildren, who are 6 and 8 respectively, come to visit we know we will be watching lots of kid friendly movies, coloring, and snacking. The kids brought a big stack of movies and I had planned some fun projects for coloring to keep the kids busy.

We made music videos, with the kids playing guitar and singing a song of their choice. Hayla performed a pretty fantastic rendition of Zombie by The Cranberries. I never knew she knew this song! Lucas, who announced "I'm horrible at making sounds" gave his heart and soul in a song that was written by him apparently, a hybrid mix of thrash metal and scratch DJ. Hayla also took a turn as a percussionist, utilizing a single cymbal and a variety of dishes and table surfaces as drums. We watched a movie about Barbie becoming a musketeer and Hocus Pocus, which seemed oddly out of place in February, but fun nonetheless, and munched on popcorn snacks.

While the kids were busy watching movies, I got dinner started. Pork is on the menu tonight and I just happened to get a great deal on boneless pork chops. Iowa is a top notch pork producing state and we always have great availability, awesome options for pork cuts and terrific prices. Unlike the pork of my childhood, which was usually cooked to death and dry, modern pork is tender and juicy and cooks like a dream. Standing at the meat counter yesterday the toughest decision I had to make was bone in or boneless. Now, every good cook will swear that bone in is the way to go. The bones contribute tons of flavor to whatever dish you're cooking. Bones look good on the plate too. Of course, on the other hand, boneless chops tend to cook a little quicker and are just are attractive looking in your finished dish.  It's really a preference- if I am cooking something that requires long slow cooking I always go with bone in, and something that cooks in less than an hour, boneless.

Since I was working with pork I opted to use another Sinful Food olive oil- this time, the Wild Sage. Sage is a natural partner for pork and this infused oil is so flavorful and aromatic. I used the oil to saute the vegetables and sear the chops, and added a teaspoon of crushed dried sage leaves as well for a full and warm sage flavor.

To get your Sinful Food oils and Signature Seasoning, click HERE.

Braised Saucy Pork Chops

6 pork chops
Sinful Food Signature Seasoning
Sinful Food Garlic olive oil
1 small onion
4 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon crushed dried sage leaves
8 oz package mushrooms
1 can golden mushroom condensed soup
1 packet pork gravy mix
1/2 cup dry white wine
fresh parsley

Finely chop the onion, mince the garlic, trim stems and slice mushrooms; set aside.

Season the pork chops with the Signature Seasoning. Heat a couple tablespoons garlic olive oil over medium high heat in braiser or Dutch oven. Brown the chops on each side, in batches if necessary. Remove to plate. Add additional oil to pot if needed. Reduce heat to medium. Add the onion; cook and stir until softened, sprinkling with Signature Seasoning. 

Add the mushrooms; cook and stir until browned. Add garlic and crumbled sage leaves and cook for one minute.

Deglaze the pot with the wine. Stir in the soup and about 1/2 cup water and return the pork chops to the pot. Cover tightly and braise until the chops are tender, about 30-45 minutes, or pop the Dutch oven into a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes.

When the chops are done, remove from pot with vegetables.  In a small bowl, mix the gravy packet with a couple tablespoons of water. Stir into the sauce in the pot. Cook and stir until thickened. Return the chops and vegetables; heat through.

Serve over buttered noodles, mashed potatoes or polenta, sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley.

Normally The Chef moans and groans when I force him to eat polenta. He has not yet embraced it the same way I have. This time, however, he really liked the polenta with the rich and mushroomy pork gravy. He even had seconds. I'll get him on board sooner or later!

Sunday we had a very exciting day! We got up early and had breakfast then made some very colorful Easter Eggs to hang in the windows at their house. When it got closer to lunch time we got a call from my daughter Laurie who invited us to brunch at Malo, our favorite Latin restaurant. Brunch with the kids was fun. They made good choices from the buffet and ate all their food. They also enjoyed some fruit and cookies dipped in the chocolate fountain. The Littles had chocolate beards and mustaches! We had a great weekend at Gramma's house. I can't wait to do it again.

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