by Mabel Suen
Last week, Gut Check spoke with St. Louis native Ellen Sweets about her new book, Stirring it Up with Molly Ivins. The memoir celebrates Ivins' life by taking a deep look into her joyous domestic side. As a true testament to the fact that food brings people together, Sweets documents the details of how her friendship with Ivins formed over both sharing and creating fond memories in the kitchen. Recounting some pleasant plates from her own family's dinner table, Sweets shares a recipe for her mother's unique take on baked pork chops.
"Before we had them for dinner, I hadn't seen them anywhere else before. She said she just kind of made it up," says Sweets, explaining in the book that her daughter, a chef, had great success with the pork chops on her menu while in charge of her first commercial kitchen. Read on for the skinny on how to make this wholesome, comforting dish that gets layered for a tasty and impressive meal, and pick up a copy of Stirring it Up with Molly Ivins this Tuesday, Dec. 13 at Left Bank Books (399 Euclid Avenue; 314-367-6731) during a reading and signing by Sweets at 7 p.m.
Melba's Baked Porked Chops from Stirring it Up with Molly Ivins by Ellen Sweets
3/4 cup flour 1 teaspoon kosher salt 2 teaspoons black pepper 1 teaspoon paprika 4 loin pork chops, cut 1 1/2 inches thick 1/4 cup cooking oil 2 large yellow onions, sliced 1/2 inch thick 4 1/2-inch-thick slices of beefsteak tomato 4 3/4-inch-thick slices of large green bell pepper Cooking oil spray 2 cups partially cooked long-grain rice 3 cups chicken stock Extra paprika 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped fine, for garnish
Combine flour, salt, pepper and paprika in a plastic or paper bag. Rinse and dry pork chops and dredge in the flour mixture. Shake off excess flour.
In a nonstick frying pan or a cast-iron skillet, brown pork chops in oil quickly over medium-high heat, searing them on both sides. Put the chops in a casserole or roasting pan large enough to accommodate them.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
On each chop, layer, in order, an onion slice, a tomato slice and a bell pepper slice. Spray a 3/4 cup measure with cooking oil and fill it with rice. Invert cup so that a mound of rice is placed inside each bell pepper ring. Sprinkle all with a light dusting of paprika. Pour chicken stock around chops and seal casserole with foil or a tight-fitting lid.
Bake 35 to 40 minutes covered, 10 minutes uncovered. Serve each chop with pan juices ladled over rice and a sprinkling of parsley. Serves 4.