Homemade is Better—Pork Chops, Mashed Potatoes & Pan Sauce

Homemade is Better—Pork Chops, Mashed Potatoes & Pan Sauce

This week I decided to get really basic.  Our oven is being flakey, and it might be time to visit a relative who sells appliances to get a new one, but until then we are making do.  When I worked in the industry, it was a regular occurrence to have a piece of equipment not functioning properly.  They get beat up and abused so often that we had to expect it.  Restaurant owners do what they can to get good equipment, sometimes that means they buy used equipment and get it fixed up, sometimes they buy new.  It all depends on the money situation.

I love a good pork chop when it is still juicy and not over cooked.  There was a time when pork had to be cooked to a well-done shoe leather.  The concern had to do with a worm that was common in pork, trichinella.  Joseph Leidy, an American scientist, discovered how this parasite was being transferred.  Since then, hundreds of countries around the world have increased and evolved their inspection processes to reduce the infections rates.  In Canada, the concern about contracting trichinosis is very low due to our inspection policies.  Still, it is recommended that pork be cooked to 71C or 160F, also know as medium.  Another factor that allows pork to retain moisture is resting.  I think every article I’ve written about cooking meats has discussed resting, so I won’t flog that old chestnut again, but rest your meat and wait at least 20 minutes before cutting into it.  This can make all the difference.  When we start hacking up our meat is when it starts to lose moisture and then it dries out—that, or when we cook all the moisture out by cooking it for too long.

Now mashed potatoes in our house usually have only four other ingredients.  Salt, butter, sour cream, and pepper.  Sometimes we’ll change out the sour cream for buttermilk or heavy cream, but that’s it.  One of the key things I’ve learned over my years of cooking is that food of similar size cooks uniformly.  Potatoes are no exception.  When you’re chopping up the potatoes try to make then as close to uniform as possible, and size DOES matter, at least when it comes to cooking.  Larger chunks will take longer to cook.  If you make them about a ½ inch in size, they will cook quicker, and you’ll have mashed potatoes sooner!  As for knowing when they are cooked fully, you want to use a fork to grab a piece of potato.  If the fork can penetrate the potato easily and it breaks apart easily, they are done.

For the pan sauce you can use a couple ingredients: vegetable stock, wine, or bourbon.  All you need is to get the crispy bits off the bottom of the pan.  Be careful with using hard alcohol, as I’ve mentioned in previous articles, if you have a gas stove you risk flambe when the burner is on.  So turn off the burner temporarily to make sure you don’t burn anything.  Once the liquid has cooked down a little bit and you’ve gotten all the “fond” off the bottom of the pan you can add about ¼ cup of cold butter cut into cubes.  This will make for a delicious buttery sauce, and you will not be disappointed!

I hope you enjoy this recipe!  Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram and Facebook, Homemade_is_better_yeg.

Porkchops, Mashed Potatoes, and Pan Sauce

Pork chops

Ingredients:

4-6 porkchops, approx. ½ to 1” thick, not frozen
Salt
Pepper

Directions:
  • About an hour before you want to cook, pull the pork chops out of your fridge and set them on the counter to warm slightly.
  • Set your oven to 350F and pull out an oven proof pan. Cast iron is perfect, but any pure metal pan that can stand the heat is fine.
  • Set your pan on a burner over high heat and add 1-2 tsp of canola oil.
  • Grab your pork chops and add salt and pepper to one side.
  • Once your pan is hot enough add the pork chops, seasoned side down. Add salt and pepper to the side facing you.
  • Let them sear until they can be picked up easily. Don’t force them to release, this will just tear the meat.
  • Once the release turn the chops over and put the pan in the oven. Cook until a thermometer reads 150 – 155F.
  • Remove the pan from the oven once you reach the temperature. Remove the pork chops to a plate and cover lightly with tin foil to rest.  The carryover cooking should get us close to if not slightly over 160F.

Mashed Potatoes

Ingredients:

4-5 medium to large russet potatoes – peeled and diced into ½” cubes
1 TBSP salt + more for taste
1 cup sour cream
1 TBSP unsalted butter
1 tsp pepper

Directions:
  • Wash your potatoes, and if you do not want the skin in your mashed potatoes then peel them.
  • Cut your potatoes into the ½” cubes and put them into a large pot, then cover them with water.
  • Add the salt and turn your burner onto high.
  • You can cover them to speed up the heating, but beware, the starch in the potatoes will cause them to boil over, so keep an eye on the pot and if you start to see steam coming out from the lid, then remove the lid.
  • Boil until you can pierce with a fork and they fall apart easily.
  • Strain out the water and grab your favorite masher. You can also add them into the bowl of your stand mixer and turn it on to medium speed.
  • Once you’ve smashed all the potatoes add your sour cream, butter, and pepper. Mix it up and taste it for salt.  Add ½ tsp of Kosher salt or ¾ tsp of table salt.  Taste again and if your happy with the taste then set aside some where warm.

Pan Sauce

Ingredients:

½ cup bourbon, white wine, or vegetable stock
¼ cup unsalted butter – cut into uniform cubes
Salt
Pepper

Directions:
  • Now your pork chops are resting you can make the pan sauce.
  • Grab your frying pan, but remember that its still probably hot, so be careful not to burn yourself.
  • Heat it up over high heat.
  • Once its at temp add the liquid and stir with a wooden spoon to get the bits of meat off the bottom of the pan. Once you have cleaned most of the pan start adding the butter 2 cubes at a time.  Stir until they are mixed in, then keep adding until all the butter is incorporated.
  • Taste and add salt if needed, but you should add a bit of pepper.
  • Serve it up with a side of your choice, I like corn because they tend to go well together.

 

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