Pork Chops and Sweet Potato Gravy

This hearty recipe that I adapted from Emeril Lagasse Louisiana Real and Rustic(New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc., 1996) is perfect for a chilly autumn evening. It is sweet without being cloying and just nicely spicy. Serve it alone or with a simple side dish of greens.

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • Boneless pork loin chops———————— 2, around 6 ounces each
  • Dried thyme—————————————- ¼ teaspoon
  • Dried oregano————————————– ¼ teaspoon
  • Garlic powder————————————— 1 teaspoon.
  • Black pepper, preferably coarse grind——- 1 teaspoon
  • Kosher salt——————————————- 1 teaspoon
  • Cayenne pepper———————————– ½ teaspoon or to taste
  • Paprika, sweet or hot—————————- 1½ teaspoon
  • Dry mustard powder—————————— ½ teaspoon
  • Oil, lard, or a combination———————– 1 tablespoon
  • Sweet potato————————————— 1 medium, about 12 ounces
  • Flour—————————————————- 1 tablespoon (I use white rice flour)
  • Onion, thinly sliced——————————— 4 ounces, about 1 medium
  • Chicken or pork stock, or water—————- 1 cup
  • Pecan halves, coarsely chopped—————- 2 ounces
  • Steen’s Cane Syrup or molasses————— 1½ tablespoons
  • Scallions, chopped——————————— ¼ cup

Method

Mix the thyme, oregano, garlic powder, black pepper, salt, cayenne, paprika, and mustard in a small bowl. Pat the pork chops dry and coat generously with the rub. Set aside while you prepare the sweet potato.

Preheat oven to 400°F (205°C). Prick the sweet potato a few times with a small knife and microwave on high for 5 minutes. Bake in the hot oven for 15 to 20 minutes. You will be able to smell when it is done. Set aside to cool. When cool enough to handle, peel, and mash.

Put a cast iron skillet (it really is the best pan to use for this recipe) over medium-high heat, add the oil and/or lard and let it get nearly smoking hot. Cook the pork chops in the hot skillet for 3 to 4 minutes per side. Remove to a plate and set aside.

Reduce the heat to medium. Adjust the fat, if necessary, to about 1 tablespoon, sprinkle in the flour, and stir to combine. Cook the roux, stirring constantly, for about 3 minutes or until well browned but not burnt. Add the onions and sauté until soft, about 5 or 6 minutes. A bit at a time, pour in the stock allowing it to come to a boil before the next addition. Add the sweet potatoes and mix well to make a smooth gravy. Stir in the pecans, scallions, and syrup or molasses. Check the seasoning then return the pork chops to the pan and bury them in the gravy. Simmer on low heat for 5 minutes. Serve hot.

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