Day 2 of the 30 Day COVID-19 Dinner Challenge: Pork Chops with Peach Topping

June 12, 2020 – Center cut pork chops with a peach brown sugar and cinnamon topping, rice, and green beans. Our COVID-19 cooking challenge continues. 

Clearly, Maddie was a fan of this dinner. Though she did not have any of it, at all, she did ask. First, she politely asked Tom. As you can see she asks with her eyes. She never begs for food instead she looks at you with soft eyes and a slightly furrowed brow. At times her curiosity gets the better of her and she sits up to smell what is on the table. Tom is Maddie’s special person. She is his service dog. Tom responds with a hand signal to lay down. Usually, Maddie responds immediately.

Before she laid down she quickly threw a look over at Kate. She is well aware of Kate’s soft heart for her. She was hopeful, as dogs so often are, that her sweet eyes would pull Kate in just enough to give Maddie a taste. It didn’t work. Kate is a third-grade teacher and is not easily sucked in by a look of the eye. Rumor has it Maddie still loves both Tom and Kate despite the silent no that was issued.

Pork chop night was mine to cook on this second day of the thirty-day dinner challenge. It is the first time I cooked pork chops in decades. I made them once when raising the kids.

Growing up it was a dish my mom made regularly. She cooked them in a large roasting pan that seemed to thicken over the years with food that couldn’t be scrubbed off like it was cooked onto, or into, the pan. I vividly remember uselessly scrubbing it. She always said she made this meal for my dad like it was an ode to his German heritage. She put a large can of sauerkraut in, layering the bottom of the pan. Then she put in the pork chops, they were maybe 1/4 of an inch thick. She laid those in the middle of the pan on top of the sauerkraut. Around the pork chops, she layered in potatoes. She sliced the potatoes thin and placed them on the sauerkraut around the pork chops. She put some salt and pepper over the potatoes and chops and into the oven it went until it was done. She served it with apple sauce. My fondest memory of this meal was to liberally mix the apple sauce with the sauerkraut and chop.

My kids would rather starve than eat sauerkraut. Since I knew no other way to make a pork chop except the way mother made them it was quickly crossed off my meal planning rotation when the kids turned their nose up at it. The one and only night I made this meal they probably just ate the apple sauce.

The pork chops I enjoy the most are made by a favorite restaurant of ours in Kure Beach, NC. Freddie’s is a small Italian restaurant that is also known for its pork chop varieties. The version I prefer is the chop with pecans and peaches in a brown sugar gravy. Looking to replicate that with some control over the calories I found a recipe online to mess around with at 

Digging into our ButcherBox supply I took a package of chops out of the freezer to use. The pork chops from ButcherBox are thick. Each one is 280 calories with a thin layer of fat around the outside. I trimmed as much of the fat off as I could. I learned from this recipe that searing the chops would go a long way to preserving the juices inside the chops when cooking them in the oven.

I made some changes to the original recipe:

1. The sage was switched to thyme because that is what I had on hand.

2. Truvia brown sugar was used instead of straight-up brown sugar. I did this to respect Tom’s need as a diabetic to keep sugar content low and to honor my weight loss mission.

3. Cinnamon was liberally used instead of just a sprinkle. Cinnamon is a beloved seasoning in this family.

4. Have you ever tried to get fresh peaches in early June? They are hard as rocks. Instead, a can of no sugar added peaches was subbed for the fresh variety.

To sear the chops the recipe calls for heating up two tablespoons of butter in a pan, seasoning the chops first and then cooking them on each side for a few minutes. The next time I would use a half a tablespoon of butter. Most of the butter was left behind in the pan after the searing process and discarded. It seemed like a lot of butter but what do I know? My reference for pork chop cooking is my mother’s sauerkraut method.

I lined the small, glass, roasting pan with foil and brushed the bottom with a thin layer of olive oil. As per the recipe, I added green beans around the chops. I put the pan in a 400-degree oven for 40 minutes.

While the chops were cooking I made the peach cinnamon brown sugar gravy:

2 tablespoons of butter, melted

1/4 cup of Truvia brown sugar

A bunch of cinnamon

A can of no sugar peaches. I thinned the peach slices before adding them to the mixture.

Brought it to a slow boil then let it simmer so as to thicken the liquid.

To round out the meal I made Jasmine rice.

Between the three of us, we split two pork chops, divvied up the peach topping and the green beans. We each had approximately a cup of rice.

If I made any other changes to the original recipe I would cook the green beans on the stovetop instead of with the pork chops in the oven.

The calorie count for this meal is approximately 600 per person. It rates as a repeatable one for us though sadly that cannot happen for another few weeks.

Until the next time!