We’ve made Cook’s Illustrated’s non-slow cooker Smothered Pork Chops (especially the variation that includes collard greens) multiple times. But today, we were going to the Utah RV Show, so I wanted something that I could stick in the slow cooker so it would prepare itself in our absence. Luckily, there’s also a Slow-Cooker Smothered Pork Chops recipe in the Cook’s Illustrated The Best Slow & Easy Recipes. I whipped that up this morning while my husband was at music class with the kiddos and it cooked while we were looking at RVs in Sandy, Utah. (More on the RV Show tomorrow.)
It turned out almost as good as the non-slow cooker version, just with a slightly thinner sauce. We loved it. The chops (which we bought locally from Christiansen Farm) were so tender, we could cut them with a fork. We served it with brown rice and Brussels sprouts. The sauce was super yummy on rice.
My son’s demanding my attention and my daughter’s begging to play a board game before bed, so without further ado…
Slow-Cooker Smothered Pork Chops
from Cook’s Illustrated The Best Slow & Easy Recipes cookbook
4 ounces (about 4 slices) bacon, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
3 medium onions, halved and sliced thin
4 t light brown sugar
3 medium garlic cloves, minces or pressed
1 T minced fresh thyme leaves, or 1 t dry (I used dry)
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 c soy sauce
2 T Minute tapioca (I used tapioca flour, which as a GF-type cook, I always have on-hand)
2 bay leaves
6 bone-in blade-cut pork chops, about 3/4-inch thick (I used 4 pork chops. I have no idea what cut they were. They were probably about 3/4-inch thick, though.)
Ground black pepper
1 T cider vinegar (I used rice vinegar. That’s what we stock in our kitchen. We like its incredible mildness.)
1 T minced fresh parsley leaves (I didn’t use these. Garnish isn’t something that moves me.)
1. Cook the bacon in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp, about 8 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate, leaving the fat in the skillet, and refrigerate until serving time. (I’m trying to move away from paper towels, but I didn’t know what else to use in this situation. So I used one. Just one.)
2. Pour off all but 2 T of the bacon fat left in the skilet and place over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the onions, 1 t of the brown sugar, garlic, thyme, and 1/4 teaspoon salt to the skillet and cook, stirring often, until the onions are soft and caramelized, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in 1 cup of the chicken broth, scraping up any browned bits.
3 Transfer the mixture to the slow cooker and stir in the remaining 2 c broth, remaining T brown sugar, soy sauce, tapioca, and bay leaves until evenly combined. Season pork chops with salt and pepper and nestle them in the slow cooker. Cover and cook, either on low or high, until the meat is tender, 7 to 8 hours on low or 4 to 5 hours on high. (I started out on high, thinking we didn’t have enough time to finish it on low. After about two hours, I conversed with my husband about it and we agreed that we should switch it low for the remainder of the time. Turns out, we ate later than we expected and would have had plenty of time to cook it on just low. The two hours on high just gave this ex-vegetarian peace of mind that the meat was cooked through.)
4. Transfer the pork chops to a serving platter with a large spoon, tent with foil, and let rest for 20 minutes (I think we left it for about 5). Let the cooking liquid settle for 5 minutes, then gently tilt the slow cooker and remove as much fat as possible from the surface using a large spoon. Remove the bay leaves, stir in the vinegar, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Reheat the bacon in the microwave on high power until heated through and crisp, about 30 seconds. Pour 1 cup of the sauce over the chops, sprinkle with the crisp bacon and parsley, and serve, passing the remaining sauce separately.