Saturday, October 4, 2014

Easy Sweet and Sour Pork Chops

A huge sweet and sour pork chop (cut in two), rice (with drippings) and peas
It may look a little homely, but don't be deceived.  The flavor is there!

     It has been a looong time since we've posted anything on this particular blog.  We have been in between homes for well over five months and I haven't really had my own kitchen.  It has definitely been an interesting journey!  Now that we are somewhat settled into our new home, I'm motivated to get this going again!  I am well aware that many folks out there are struggling financially, and groceries are getting more and more difficult to afford.  I hope to provide some ideas, affordable recipes, and some strategies for feeding a large family on a tight budget in the weeks to come.  May the Lord continue to provide for your family as you continue to seek Him and praise Him through it all!

     I have been wanting to share this recipe for some time now and the opportunity arrived today.  My mom used to make this dish when I was little.  I actually hated pork chops as a child and remember groaning in disappointment whenever they were on the menu.  This was the only way I would eat them.  If you are a sweet and sour fan like me, you'll be excited to try this simple, quirky, flavorful recipe.  If you tolerate sweet and sour (like my husband), simply scrape off all the goodness, and put butter on your rice instead of the drippings.  Happy compromise.  

pork chops of your choice
brown sugar 
1 onion
2 lemons
large bottle of ketchup

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

First, I rinse and rub the pork chops.  I actually do this with just about everything except ground meat. (I soak lettuce as well.)  This may seem a little excessive to some, but I like clean food.  It is unfortunate, but there may be a few folks lurking in your local meat department who lack your integrity.  Not all wear their little hair nets and plastic gloves.  Some may even slap that dropped piece of meat right back onto the package.  Sorry to be nasty, but it does happen.  Heat may kill germs, but it will not remove debris. I also have to add that there are some WONDERFUL folks in the meat department who have been a a great help to me. Nevertheless, I rinse.  Make sure you clean your sink afterward and try not to be messy while you do this. (Ooooh, my daughter Emily just brought me an iced coffee she made in the "Magic Bullet" as I type this. We'll have to post that. Thank you, Emily!)

I spray a little Pam onto the casserole dishes before shaking off the water and placing in the pork chops.

Sprinkle pork chops generously with brown sugar.

Top with sliced onion.

 Top onion with seeded, sliced lemons. Yep, I wash the outsides of those too.

Okay, it gets a little weird here.  Generously squirt your favorite ketchup on top of the entire thing and bake in the oven at 375 degrees for about an hour unless pork chops are boneless, really thin, or extra thick.  I would bake the boneless or extra thin about 30-40 minutes and the extra thick about an hour and 15 minutes.  Be aware that if you shorten the baking time, your onions and lemons may not be as tender as you would like.  I usually go with a standard bone-in pork chop for this reason.  The flavor of the ketchup will transform into a tangy sweet and sour topping, and the meat juices will mix with the flavors of the toppings to make a wonderful sauce for rice.

Within 10 minutes, your house will smell fabulous.  I almost always serve this with buttered rice and ladle the yummy drippings on top.  The rice does better with a sweeter fare than potatoes.  My husband's "rule" in our house is to serve peas with rice and corn with potatoes. If you serve peas with potatoes or corn with rice, the entire space-time continuum will be thrown off.  Just sayin'. The chops below are almost done.  If it seems too intense to leave the thick ketchup glaze on top, remove casserole dishes from the oven a few minutes early. Flip over the pork chops and finish baking. When baking time is over, remove chops and set aside while you whisk everything together in the casserole dish (a little tricky with the onions and lemons).  Return chops, spoon thicker drippings over the top, and serve.

The onions and lemons should be very soft.  I have been known to snag several remaining lemons out of the casserole dish after dinner and nibble on them.  Yum!

You can also use this same recipe with chicken, and yes, it is good.  I have to admit, however, that the chicken does not have the same intense flavor as the pork chops.  There is something the pork just adds to the sauce that makes it superior to the chicken!

In light of the adventure the Wand family has just experienced, the verses below sum up the value of such trials and should encourage you as well:

Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content:  I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound.  Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.  I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Philippians 4:11-13


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