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Crockpot Chops

10/14/2010

I’ve long wanted to try cooking pork chops in a crockpot, so I tested a new recipe last week and tried a variation tonight with slightly different ingredients. One of them came out perfectly, while the other was merely acceptable.

You’d think with all the moisture trapped inside a slow cooker, the meat couldn’t come out dry, but it’s entirely possible to wind up with pork that’s break-apart-soft yet somehow not moist. The bottom line is that it’s best to use bone-in chops. If you use a boneless cut, you should follow a recipe meant for pork tenderloin, which has less fat and requires less time to cook: 4-6 hours vs. 7-8 hours.

I knew that overcooking was a risk when I left tonight’s boneless chops going for seven hours on low heat, but I thought the extra time might make the chops disintegrate. It didn’t occur to me that they might dry out. On the plus side, the pork wasn’t tough the way it would be if overly fried, baked, or broiled. But who wants mediocre food when a delicious, mouth-watering alternative is equally simple (and probably less expensive)? Not me.

So here’s the good recipe, which comes from the Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Slow-Cooking. It’s called Maple-Cooked Pork Chops. It’s one of the easiest things I’ve come across lately, and it was a real crowd-pleaser.

All you need are bone-in pork chops, maple syrup, chicken broth, diced onions, a dash of Worchestershire sauce, and a bit of chili powder (the surprise ingredient)—plus a bit of flour, salt, and pepper to coat the meat before browning. I rarely flour meat before browning because I typically use the fattier, dark cuts of chicken for crockpot recipes, but in this case, with a lean cut of pork, I did coat the meat, and I think it’s better that way.

Dip the chops in the flour.
Coat chops in flour mixture.

Brown until golden, a few minutes on each side, and then place the chops into your crockpot.
Brown on both sides.

The recipe doesn’t call for caramelizing the onions, but I did (and always do). After dumping the onions on top of the chops, the rest of the ingredients go into the frying pan for deglazing and a quick boil. I also added a lot more garlic than the recipe called for. That’s a personal choice, up to you.

Once everything was in the pot, I let it all cook on low for about seven hours. Somewhere around the halfway point, I rotated the chops in the pot. The recipe was intended for four servings, and I was cooking for six, so the first four chops were “underwater,” with two additional pork-chop islands braising on top of the others. I thought it would be a good idea to swap them around, to make sure that they all cooked evenly.

Here is a photo of the final result, served with greens and creamy mashed potatoes. Perfect!
Dinner is served!

Just to be clear, you don’t need a Rival-brand slow cooker for this recipe—or any other that I’ve posted. Like “Kleenex” and “Dumpster,” the term “Crockpot” has morphed from a brand name into an everyday word. So, slow-cook away using whatever contraption suits you.

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From → Crockpot, Food

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