People are starting to think I’m having some kind of strange affair with my crock pot, I use it so often. I know many people who only pull out the crock pot for jeans-and-hoodie-weather recipes. I used to be one of them. Every time the weather got colder, I’d reach for the crock pot and churn out hearty foods like beef stew and pea soup and keep right on doing that until the first sign of summer. Now I’ve learned the error of my ways and use the crock pot just as much in hotter weather as I do when the weather is cool. Need to make dinner and it’s hot and humid and the last thing you want to do is heat up the kitchen? The crock pot has it covered. Add a crock pot liner and you have a dinner that didn’t heat up the kitchen and with no cleanup beyond a skillet and the dishes you use for serving.
In hotter weather the last thing I feel like making for dinner is beef stew, so I’m glad the crock pot is more than just the beef stew machine. I made these smothered pork chops, and they are a new favorite. This is possibly one of the easiest meals I’ve ever made, crock pot or not. If you thought pork chops covered in tasty gravy couldn’t be any better, think again. Those pork chops could be covered in gravy and bacon, like these. This is a little more involved than just dumping ingredients into the crock pot and walking away, but not all that much more involved. You will have to cook the bacon and use the bacon fat to cook the onions. I do also recommend giving the pork chops a quick trip through the skillet to brown them a little but that’s really more for appearance than anything. We do eat with our eyes, so I did brown my pork chops but this is just as tasty if you skip that step. At the end, you will take the extra step of turning the cooking liquid into a fantastic sauce. So, while this isn’t exactly “set it and forget it” easy, it’s worth the extra steps to enjoy these simmered-all-day pork chops.
Crock Pot Smothered Pork Chops
- 5 slices bacon, chopped
- 4 boneless center-cut pork chops, about 3/4-inch thick (1-1/2 lbs.)
- salt and pepper
- 2 yellow onions, peeled, halved, and sliced into 1/2 inch thick slices
- 1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. brown sugar
- 1/4 C. plus 2 Tbsp. cold water
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp. dried thyme
- 3 C. low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 Tbsp. cornstarch
- 1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat for 5-6 minutes until lightly browned.
Remove the bacon from the skillet using a slotted spoon and place it on a paper towel lined plate. Leave the drippings in the pan (If you have more than 2 Tbsp. of drippings, drain some of the drippings as well. If you do not have 2 Tbsp. of drippings, add canola or olive oil to make up the difference).
When the bacon is cool, refrigerate until pork chops are almost done.
Heat the skillet with the bacon drippings over medium to medium-high heat until hot.
Pat the pork chops dry with paper towels and sprinkle salt and pepper evenly over both sides of the pork chops.
Place the pork chops in the skillet and cook for 2 minutes per side, just until golden brown on both sides. Do this in batches if your skillet can’t hold all 4 pork chops in a single layer at one time.
Place the pork chops into the crock pot.
Pour all but 2 tsp. of the fat from the skillet.
Add the onions to the skillet along with 1 tsp. of the brown sugar, 1/4 tsp. of salt, and 1/4 C. of the water.
Scrape any browned bits from the bottom of the pan and cook the onion mixture over medium-high heat for about 4-6 minutes until the onions are soft.
Stir in the garlic and thyme and cook the mixture until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Pour the onion mixture over the pork chops in the crock pot.
Pour the broth, soy sauce, and remaining 1 Tbsp. of brown sugar over the pork chops in the crock pot.
Add the bay leaves to the crock pot.
Place the lid on the crock pot and cook for 8 hours on low or about 4 hours on high, until pork chops are tender (I suggest checking at 7 hours for high and 3 hours for low- depending on the pork chops and how hot your crock pot actually gets, they may be done before the 4 or 8 hours).
When you’re ready to serve the pork chops, remove the pork chops to a serving plate and cover with foil to keep warm.
Remove the bay leaves from the crock pot and discard.
Pour the liquid remaining in the crock pot through a mesh strainer into a saucepan and discard the solids, keeping the liquids in the saucepan.
In a small bowl combine the cornstarch and remaining 2 Tbsp. of water, and stir the mixture (slurry) into the liquids in the saucepan.
Stir the reserved cooked bacon into the saucepan.
Cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes until bubbling and thickened.
Stir in the cider vinegar and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Pour the sauce over the pork chops.
Makes 4 servings.
Source: adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe