In the American South, ‘smothered’ refers to any protein that has been fried and then topped with gravy and sautéed onions. I love smothered pork chops. But I do not love frying. Specifically I don’t love cleaning up after frying.
This version of smothered pork chops sears seasoned pork chops in a little vegetable oil rather than dredging them in flour and frying them. This method trims fat and calories—which brings the sexy.
Sexy Smothered Pork Chops
4 cups warm water
¼ cup kosher salt
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
2 thick bone-in pork chops
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
½ teaspoon cracked black pepper
4 Tablespoons canola or vegetable oil, divided
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 cup sliced mushrooms
2 Tablespoons flour
1 cup chicken stock
¼ cup apple cider (I used Hopvine, but any apple cider will do)
Put all brine ingredients in a shallow baking dish and stir until salt is dissolved. Add pork chops and cover the dish with plastic wrap. Place the dish in the refrigerator and let the chicken brine for 30 minutes up to 2 hours.
While the pork chops are brining, heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil over medium-high heat in a saute pan. Once the oil starts to shimmer, sauté onions and mushrooms until they start to brown, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat.
Remove pork chops from brine and pat dry. Season them with smoked paprika and black pepper. Heat remaining oil in a large skillet or frying pan over medium heat. When the oil starts to shimmer, carefully place seasoned pork chops in the pan. Sear on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. Remove pork chops from the skillet and place them on a plate, then cover them with aluminum foil.
Turn heat down to medium-low. Add sautéed onions and mushrooms to the skillet. Sprinkle in flour and stir vigorously to make a roux. Once the flour browns slightly, add chicken stock and apple cider. Stir vigorously, scraping the bottom of the pan to get any browned bits. Bring to a simmer to thicken the sauce.
Add pork chops to heat them through. Taste sauce for seasoning. Add salt and pepper as needed. Serve and enjoy!