With Sunday being Veteran's Day, I was already in a nostalgic mood, so having a package of pork chops defrosting in the fridge made me think back to the first meal I ever made for my family as a kid. From the time I received my first Nancy Drew book, I was hooked, so it should come as no surprise that I also had the Nancy Drew Cook Book. All I remembered about The Case of the Smothered Pork Chops is that they were on the pale side, but since I made this dish several times back in the day, they had to be at least pretty good, right??? If you knew my Mom, you would know if it had been a fail the first time, they would not have made a second appearance - she would definitely have diverted me on to something else.
Although the recipe calls for four chops, I was using a package of three. I'm now left wondering what I did about the rice back then. It seems silly to me to cook a half cup of rice for four people (at least if not making a veg side as well). "OK, here's your nice big pork chop and a teaspoon of rice, enjoy!" You might want to double the rice, but as you will note from the picture of the dish upon coming out of the oven, you do not need to double the liquid, just increase it slightly.
4 pork chops, fat trimmed
1/2 c rice
2 t freshly grated ginger *
1 med onion
1 orange *
1 can beef broth
Salt and Pepper
* As I remembered it, I had always made this dish with orange slices, so as much as I love lemon, I went with that and used an orange. Rather than slicing the whole orange, I cut one slice to top each chop, then squeezed the juice from the rest of the orange over the dry rice. I also seasoned the chops with S&P before browning, and decided to introduce some fresh ginger to the dish for a more flavorful rice. Oh, and I also skipped the part about melting the fat to brown the chops and opted to just give my grill pan a shot of cooking spray.
Preheat oven to 325°.
While heating a grill pan or skillet to med-high, trim the fat from the chops and season on both sides with salt and pepper. Brown on each side for approximately 3".
While I would normally have seared the chops longer, to give them more color, because they would be baking for an hour, I didn't want them to dry out. If you find the final color to be less than appetizing, you could always give the rice a head start and add the chops to the pan part-way through. Just make sure if you do that to add the onion slices at the same time as the rice, so they are cooked through. The citrus can be held back until the chops are added.
Slice the onion and citrus into rings, leaving part of the citrus intact if you intend to squeeze the juice over the rice.
Pour the uncooked rice into the bottom of a baking pan/casserole dish, and top with the citrus juice (if using), then grate the ginger over the top.
When the chops are browned place over the rice and top each with a slice of onion, followed by a citrus ring. Pour the beef broth and reserved citrus juice over the top and bake, uncovered, for 1 hour.
Although my chop looks like it needs a tan after bathing in broth for an hour, it was quite juicy and tender. I really enjoyed the addition of ginger to the rice as a nice complement to the citrus.