My mother did not make smothered pork chops. She was Southern but pork chops were rarely on the menu, perhaps never come to think about it. Perhaps my father didn’t like them, for instance lamb was not allowed in the house. No further data is available.
She did however make something very similar with round steak. First, she would select the steak and then ask the butcher to run it through the tenderizer not once but twice. She taught me to never buy the cube steak in the package since it was hard to see just what the original meat looked like. It was also cheaper to buy the steak. Cubed steak was more expensive but butchers didn’t charge for the tenderizing if you brought them the steak.
My mother did not call the dish smothered, she just said we were having steak and gravy, usually with mashed potatoes.
The process is simple. Bread your meat with flour, brown in oil, and cook in liquid with onions until tender. I made the beef version fairly often while I ate beef but then decided to try it with pork. Any cut of pork chop will do. I also cook Farmer’s cut Ribs like this. The extra fat adds flavor. Sometimes I will cut pieces from a pork shoulder or butt as well.
Over the years, I have modified the recipe in a number of ways to suit my tastes. Since smothered was not in my Mom’s food vocabulary, I have always thought of it as Slow Cooked Pork Chops.
If you bread your chops, and have more than one round in the pan, the flour always burns. This makes a bitter gravy and cleaning out the pan between rounds is a pain. So, no breading at all. The downside to this is that it is the flour that helps thicken the gravy. Once the meat is close to done, make a roux and add it to thicken the sauce. It is an extra step but an easy one.
Once I heard of smothered pork chops and looked at recipes, I found that the cooking time is fairly short. Brown the chops, make the gravy, cook the chops in gravy for 15-20 minutes. My version cooks until the chops are almost falling off of the bone and that can take an hour or more depending on the chops. If I have mushrooms, they make a great addition.
Cooking the onions in the pan helps deglaze the wonderful fond (brown bits) on the bottom. This is pure flavor.
I like chops in gravy. Tender meat that melts in the mouth is what I am looking for. Give this a try, you will be glad that you did. My personal preference is a fairly thin gravy that just coats a spoon. If you like a thicker sauce, just make more roux.
Slow Cooked Pork Chops in Onion Gravy
- 2 lbs Pork chops, Farmers Ribs, or pieces of Pork Butt
- 1 medium Onion chopped
- 2 Garlic cloves smashed
- Salt and Pepper
- Water or Stock
- 1 tbsp flour
- 1 tbsp butter
- Generously season chops with salt and pepper
- Brown in pan with a bit of oil, 2 chops in pan at a time. Add oil as needed for 2nd round
- Once chops are browned, set them aside, turn down flame and add onions to pan. After a few minutes add garlic
- Onions will help deglaze the pan as they release water
- Once onions are translucent and a bit browned, return chops to pan
- Add water or stock to almost cover meat
- Bring to simmer and cover. Cook until meat is very tender, 60-90 minutes
- Use small saucepan or skillet to make roux. Melt butter, add flour, and cook on low flame for a minute or two to cook out raw flour flavor
- Slowly add liquid from chops stirring or whisking to avoid lumps, you can add ¼ cup of milk for a richer flavor
- When thick, add roux to the rest of gravy, whisking to avoid lumps, It is usually easier if you take the chops out of the pan first
- Add chops back to the pan and cook on low until gravy thickens
- Serve with mashed potatoes or rice
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