Another quick supper, this time a one-pot oven dinner, pork chops and rice cooked together. The very first meal I cooked, memorable for reasons good and bad!
Here’s to memories, the ones connecting home-cooked food and real life.
On March 31, 1970, I cooked this easy one-skillet supper. Yes, I really do recall a single meal cooked exactly 39 years ago today, perhaps more than the one cooked yesterday, all because:It was my mother’s birthday, her 40th.
It was the first meal I ever cooked.
It was a disaster.
But there’s more to the story, one that demonstrates how kitchen disasters can have happy endings and how some times, no matter what is served, meals are not about the food.
Mom had a new job, she was working long hours. That morning, she jotted down her recipe for a standby pork chop supper she’d made herself many times, one so familiar that she left out one itsy bitsy detail: browning the pork chops. Oops. An experienced cook might have realized. Me, I was 11 and following her recipe to the letter.
I baked a surprise birthday cake and frosted it with blue icing, a disaster in its own right. Worse? I forgot the sugar. Oops.
Weary from her day, hungry for real food, Mom arrived home to pale pork and an inedible gooey-blue cake. Still, she was full of smiles and her characteristic hear-it-from-across-the-room laugh.
You see, five years earlier, Mom had been diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer, a near-certain death sentence. Turning 40 meant she’d reached the five-year mark of breast cancer survival: she’d beaten the odds. Supper may have been a mess, but Mom – and all of us – had good reason to celebrate.
PORK CHOPS & RICE OVEN DINNER
Time to table: 2 hours
Serves 4 (easily divided or multiplied)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 thin-cut bone-in pork chops, about 1-1/4 pounds
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup rice (see TIPS)
- 4 onion slices
- 4 rings of green pepper
- 4 tomato rounds
- 1-1/2 cups broth (chicken, beef, vegetable)
- Generous salt & pepper
Preheat oven to 350F.
Heat olive oil in an oven-safe skillet until shimmery on medium high. Rinse and dry the pork chops, season with salt and pepper. (Don’t forget this important step!) Drop the chops into the skillet (they should sizzle). Brown each sides, about 3 minutes each, without moving. Set the chops aside.
Stir the rice into the pan drippings, then arrange the chops over top. Atop each chop, layer a slice of onion, a ring of green pepper and a tomato round.
Pour the broth over the rice and around the meat. If the broth is lightly seasoned, sprinkle it with salt and pepper. Cover with foil and bake for 90 minutes.
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