Crock Pot Smothered Pork Chops

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

Crock Pot Smothered Pork Chops

Ingredients:

  • 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

Directions:

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

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5 thoughts on “Crock Pot Smothered Pork Chops

  1. I completely agree that the crock-pot is one of the best things in the kitchen all year. I was surprised though once when I went to the farmer’s market and the meat guy said he had trouble selling “slow cooking” meat because people either didn’t know how to cook it or didn’t want to learn. He literally has to try and teach people how to cook anything that isn’t ready for the grill or the frying pan or he just can’t sell it. People like us who cook and take food seriously seem to be a minority these days. I think that after another generation has gone by, we’ll see just how little the younger generations cook (I sound like an old man, *sigh*)

    Great recipe as usual. How could it not be, it has BACON in it. 😉

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    1. “Slow cooking” meat is awesome because it’s usually a tougher cut (usually a great bargain) and the toughness breaks down during the slow cooking process. Learning to braise and slow cook meat (especially roasts) is one of the best kitchen skills I’ve learned.

      I started learning to cook early, but I didn’t really take food seriously until about five years ago when I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder that can largely be controlled by limiting the amount of junk I put into my body. That’s not to say I don’t reach for ramen noodles every once in a while, or that I live a life devoid of takeout and pizza, but at least now I do these things consciously and in a balanced manner. We don’t buy all organic and I’m sure there’s some GMO stuff in the cabinets, and a post for later this week involves making frosting out of marshmallow fluff (which isn’t exactly good for you even if you make your own). Balance is the word I use most often concerning our food choices.

      You’re in good company, I was in the grocery store yesterday shaking my head at a woman (like an old lady- so it begins!) who was proclaiming the wonders of Chicken Voila to her friend. For less money, you can make the same pasta and chicken dish without all of that fat and sodium. As a once in a while food, it’s probably fine. As a dinner time staple, it’s a heart attack waiting to happen. These foods appeal to people because they seem cheap (I’ve made a lot of this stuff with fresh ingredients for way less per serving than the bag of frozen stuff amounts to) and they seem quick (homemade bread takes me less hands-on time than going to a store). Part of what I do here is to try and show people that it’s not always more time or cost effective to reach for convenience foods. That’s a big reason for my love affair with my crock pot. Little hands-on time, and a healthy meal all from “real” ingredients that can control. Because it really is all about balance, a sprinkling of bacon can’t hurt 🙂

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  2. Wait, wait, wait…WHAT is a a Crock Pot liner?!

    Oh, I’m excited about this new possibility! I heart me a good crockpot meal. I probably use it for 70% of dinners. It’s so much easier to be able to leave it and come back to it and not worry about something catching fire while I chase my toddlers away from the toilet.

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    1. Reynolds makes the magical crock pot liners (the box says “slow cooker liners,” one person’s crock pot is another’s slow cooker). http://www.reynoldskitchens.com/products/slow-cooker-liners/ I SWEAR by them. They’re about 2$ for a box of 4 at our local Walmart (they’re a little more at Target and the grocery stores) and sold in the section where the plastic sandwich bags or aluminum foil can be found. It’s a big plastic bag that goes into the crock pot before you fill it, and doesn’t melt or burn while the food cooks. When you’re done, remove the liner and toss it in the trash. Even though the stone part of my crock pot is removable for easy cleaning, I love not having to wait for it to be cool enough to handle then wrangling it into the sink to wash it by hand. It’s also great if there are any leftovers to package up for another meal- I pour them right out of the liner into a plastic container and clean up is DONE!

      It’s been a while since I had to chase toddlers away from anything, but the resident 9 and 6 year olds find plenty of ways to keep me on my toes. It’s nice to not have to interrupt helping with homework to stir something or being at soccer practice knowing that dinner will be waiting for us when we get home. I now actually have 3 crock pots, because I love using them for parties or if I want to make dinner in one and a side dish in the other.

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