With its Creole heritage, smothered pork chops is hearty comfort food at its most straightforward. Just brown some chops and cover ’em with a thick, savory layer of sautéed onions and gravy; you’ll have a satisfying meal in no time. But don’t mistake easy for bland. My flavor-first version of this southern dish will satisfy even the most ornery eater—guaranteed.
The secret to a smashing onion gravy, of course, is the roux—the thickening agent traditionally made from approximately equal amounts of fat to flour. My Paleo roux substitutes arrowroot powder for the flour, and uses bacon drippings as the fat of choice, which adds a wonderful smokiness to the sauce.
And what goes better with pork chops than apples? Answer: nothing.
The sweetness of the fruit and onions strikes the perfect counterbalance to the bacon-y richness of the gravy. An apple a day doesn’t just keep the doctor away—it also takes these pork chops from good to great.
Is your stomach growling yet? Then let’s get down to business!
Here’s what you need to gather to feed 4 people:
- 3 slices thick cut bacon, cut into ¼ inch slices
- 2 tablespoons arrowroot powder
- 1½ cups bone broth or chicken stock
- 1 teaspoon fish sauce
- 5 (¾-inch-thick) bone-in pork chops (about 2 pounds total)
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon ghee
- 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 1 apple, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 fresh thyme sprigs
Here’s what to do:
Start by rendering the bacon drippings by frying the bacon in a small saucepan over medium-low heat.
Once the bacon bits are crisp, spoon them out…
…and set the bacon aside on a towel-lined dish.
There should be about 2 tablespoons of bacon drippings left in the saucepan. Over medium-low heat, whisk the arrowroot powder into the drippings to form a smooth roux.
Keep whisking as you cook the roux until browned.
Then, pour in the broth and fish sauce and stir until incorporated.
Increase the heat to medium-high, and bring the sauce to a boil.
Cook until it’s thickened (around 3 minutes). Cover the saucepan and set it aside.
Season the chops on both sides with salt and pepper.
Heat 1 tablespoon of ghee in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add the chops and cook on each side for 1 minute or until golden-brown.
Transfer the chops to a plate.
Toss the onions and apple—along with a sprinkle of salt—into the empty skillet.
Cook, stirring constantly, until the onions are browned on the edges (about 5 minutes). Be sure to scrape up as much of the browned porky bits on the bottom of the skillet.
Add the minced garlic and sauté until fragrant (about 30 seconds).
Transfer the chops back into the skillet, and smother ’em with the cooked onions and apple.
Pour the reserved sauce onto the chops…
…and add the thyme sprigs…
…before bringing the sauce to a boil over high heat. Then, reduce the heat to low, and cover the skillet. Simmer for 30 minutes…
…or until the pork chops are fork tender.
Plate the chops, and top them with gravy and the reserved bacon bits.
Serve with your favorite comfort food side. (I love pairing these pork chops with garlic cauliflower mashed fauxtatoes!)
Looking for more recipes like this one? Head on over to my Recipe Index. You’ll also find exclusive recipes on my iPad® app, and in my New York Times bestselling cookbook, Nom Nom Paleo: Food for Humans (Andrews McMeel 2013).