Recently, I whipped up this family favorite, with a few new twists. That’s the beauty of recipes – always evolving. First off, I used pork chops that were about 3/4 of an inch thick rather than my usual thin cut chops. As I was seasoning my chops for the skillet, it dawned on me to use a little bacon drippings rather than oil to prep the pan. Bacon drippings would help to crisp up the thin ribbon of fat on one side of my chops while adding a nice, smokey flavor. Sure enough, the chops browned up beautifully in the bacon grease. While the chops browned, I mixed up my potato soup, ready to smother those chops in the flavorful soup mixture. When the chops were pulled from the skillet, I noticed a nice rendering of pan drippings left behind. Hum, seemed a shame to let those beautiful drippings go to waste. I poured my potato soup mixture into the pan, scraping up all those wonderful bits of brown goodness. Wow, what an awesome difference! The chops were seared on the outside, moist and tender on the inside. The sauce was infused with a wonderful, smokey flavor.
This recipe has been in my collection for years – ever since I first created it one evening when I went to the cupboard with one recipe in mind only to discover that I had the wrong can of soup in my cupboard. It was my plan to bake pork chops in a sauce made from Cream of Mushroom Soup. Somehow, I had Cream of Potato Soup in the cupboard. Most unusual. The fact that I had Cream of Potato Soup in my pantry at all told me I had grabbed the wrong soup at the market. I was tired, it had been a long day, and I simply did not feel up to running to the market for a can of soup. I decided to make the best of things, and use the Cream of Potato Soup instead. That first creation of Potato Pork Chops was made with a can of water, a little seasoning and no tarragon. It was good, but a bit bland. Over the years this pork chops recipe has evolved into a much more flavorful dish.
In the winter of 2011, my brother came to stay with us for a while. Hands down, he is one of fussiest eaters on the planet. Now I love my brother, and I love my mother (God rest her soul) but he is a monster she create. My brother was the only boy in the family – and he became king of the hill – with one set of rules for us girls, and another set of rules for him. While my sisters and I had to eat whatever was placed before us or go without, our brother was allowed to eat whatever made him happy. While we ate fish sticks on Fridays, he ate chocolate cake! As a result, his culinary palate is limited to foods generally eaten by teenagers – hamburgers, hot dogs, and pizza – not the gourmet kind, but with a red sauce and plenty of pepperoni, thank you. While I prepare wonderful meals on the weekends for the family breakfast, my charming brother dines on popcorn and turkey sandwiches – bread and meat – nothing else, not even mayonnaise.
One evening my brother wandered into the kitchen to inquire what I had planned for dinner. (Depending upon his finances and my answer, he would then decide if dinner meant a trip to McDonald’s). When I said Potato Pork Chops, he made his “I’m not going to like this” face and said pork chops are fried, barbecued or fixed “Filipino” style (adobo). It took some convincing, but he decided to give it a try. This dish, like my Parmesan Pork Chops, was a hit with the King. If you have fussy eaters in your house, this is one dish that is sure to please. My brother is coming along, trying new things in his old age and he’s discovering a completely new world – one with flavor.
Potato Pork Chops with Tarragon
6 Boneless Pork Chops, about 3/4 inch thick
Sea Salt, to taste
Fresh Ground Pepper to taste
1 tablespoon Onion Powder, enough to lightly season each chop
1 Can Cream of Potato Soup
1 Can Chicken Broth
2 teaspoons Tarragon Leaves, finely chopped
Season chops with salt, pepper and onion powder on both sides. Rub gently to get more of the seasoning into the chop.
Over medium heat, brown chops in enough bacon drippings to lightly coat bottom of large skillet. Cook chops 3 minutes per side or until lightly browned.
Place pork chops in a large casserole dish. Mix Cream of Potato Soup, chicken broth and tarragon together in a large bowl. Add the soup mixture to the now empty skillet to bring all those lovely browned bits into the sauce. Pour over pork chops. Cover tightly with foil and bake in a preheated 400-degree oven for about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Turn chops over about half way through the cooking time to allow both sides to be saturated in sauce.
Serve with garlic-mashed potatoes and steamed green vegetables. For extra flavor, drizzle liquid from pork chops over mashed potatoes.
Note: When using fresh ground pepper, I like to grind the pepper into the palm of my hand, then “sprinkle” over the pork. About two turns of the mill per side is usually enough pepper.