Sunday, August 19, 2007

Italian Pork Chop Caserole

A One Dish Wonder

Late last week I was wandering down the meat isle of our local grocery store, looking for bargains, when I noticed packages of little boneless pork chops "buy one, get one free." They were sliced about 1/4" to 3/8" thick, had a nice pink color, and I just couldn't resist.

Two packages came home with me.

Thin little chops like these cook in just a couple of minutes on each side in the skillet, and it's easy to over cook them and dry them out if you're not careful, so I started poking around the Internet looking for something different to do with four of my little chops for dinner tonight.

I came upon this recipe for something called "Italian Pork Chops," but I wanted something a little heartier, so I made a few modifications and here's what I came up with for dinner.

four pork chops
one link of andouille sausage (or Italian sausage)
five medium sized red potatoes
28 oz can of petite diced tomatoes
12 oz can of cream of Mushroom Soup
dried tarragon
one cup of shredded cheese (I used Swiss and Parmesan, but most any kind will work)
bread crumbs

First wash and slice up your potatoes into 1/8" slices and toss them in a pot of cold salted water to soak for a few minutes. I leave the skins on my new potatoes because I like the texture and flavor, but feel free to peal yours if you want to.

Now grate up your cheese and start heating up a medium boiler of water for the potatoes and a large skillet on high to sear the pork chops and sausage in.

Dump the water off the potatoes down the sink, then place the drained potatoes into the pot of hot water on your stove top and bring them to a rolling boil to pre cook them slightly.

Toss the chops into the hot skillet with a little olive oil and sear them lightly on both sides, being careful not to cook them too much or they'll be tough when they're done baking later.

The sausage should be seared also, but you don't have to be as careful and you can give it some nice color if you want, then pull it out of the skillet and slice it into 1/8" to 1/4" thick slices.

Take your potatoes off the stove and pour them out into a colander to drain well.

Now you can start putting your dish together. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and grease a 13" x 13" Pyrex dish with your favorite fat. I used spray olive oil.

Now layer half of your potato slices evenly in the bottom of your dish, then lay your little pork shops and the sausage slices on top in a nice layer and sprinkle with about a half teaspoon of dried tarragon.

Spoon the can of Cream of Mushroom Soup over your meat and potato layers and smooth it out.

Sprinkle in a little of your grated cheese if you want to. I saved all of mine for the topping.

Now layer the last of your potatoes across the top of everything, then spoon the diced tomatoes out over the dish. Crack a little fresh black pepper over the top of it all, and sprinkle with another half teaspoon of dried tarragon and some dried basil and parsley if you're in the mood.

Step back from the stove to admire your work.

Isn't that pretty?

It gets better... spread your grated cheese evenly over the THAT looks Yummy.

Set your timer for 40 minutes, pop your dish in the oven, and go watch TV or surf the Internet or play with the dog or something while your casserole cooks. How about washing your car?

After 40 minutes, pull the dish out and sprinkle about 3/4 cup of bread crumbs on top of the melting cheese, then put it back in the oven and cook it for another 20 minutes.

For the last three minutes I kicked the oven broiler on to give the bread crumbs a nice color, then pulled it out and let it cool for about ten minutes.

If you can remember where you put your pork chops, try to dive in with a giant spoon or spatula and scoop out a nice slab of everything. If it falls apart, just spoon it out in a pile, then grab yourself a fork and napkin and EAT.

Regards Y'all

The Redneck Gourmet

Pizza Revelation

A Saturday Night Tradition...

After doing virtually nothing all day today (as opposed to getting virtually nothing done), I fired up the new oven and worked on my thin crust pizza recipe. The solution is coming along nicely, and I feel good enough about things to publish it for public consumption.

Here's what you need to make a nice 15" thin crust pizza...

For the starter dough:

1/4 cup of 110 degree F water1 pack of yeast

3/4 cup of flour

For the main dough:

3/4 cup of room temperature water

1-1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
pinch of sugar


(add or subtract as you like, but you really should try this combo unless something on the list gives you hives or makes your spleen rupture or something...):

olive oil

1 pound whole milk mozzarella cheese, cut into little blobs and evenly distributed
Enough pepperoni slices to cover the affected area
Four (4) strips of bacon, fried crisp and crumbled
1 small chicken breast half--pan seared to about 140 degrees and diced into 3/8" cubes
A couple of hand fulls of baby spinach leaves
Fresh sliced mushrooms
3/4 cup of diced colored bell peppers (I used orange, Red, AND Yellow)
1/2 cup sliced red onion
1 small can of sliced black olives
6 oz of crumbled feta cheese (put it right on top of everything when you're finished)

First things first.

Put your yeast in the warm water, stir it up well, and let is sit for about fifteen minutes.

Once you have a bunch of hungry yeast breasties, howling for something to eat, dump your yeast/water mixture into your 3/4 cup of starter flour, stir it up to form a blob of dough, cover it with a clean dishtowel, and walk away and ignore it while it rises for a half hour or so.

Make yourself a nice glass of iced tea or open a beer and watch TV while you wait.

Now here's the difference between thick and thin crust...

You DON'T do a secondary rise on the dough. It's just that simple.

You dump your 3/4 cup of water into your starter dough to dilute, stir it all up, then pour it into a medium mixing bowl with your flour, salt, and sugar mixture.

Stir, stir, stir.

Do you have a stiff, yet slightly wet dough mixture yet?


Then add a LITTLE flour or water until you get it right, then dump it all out onto a floured surface and start working it over with your hands.

Preheat your oven to 500 degrees F.

Now the idea is to incorporate some more flour into the slightly wet dough, ending up with extra on the outside surfaces as you begin to flatten it out to form a crust. After two or three minutes of kneading, break out your rolling pin and roll things out to a nice uniform disk about 18" in diameter and 1/4" to 3/8" thick (I use a 15" pizza stone to cook on.)

When you're finished rolling, pick up your crust and carefully place it on your pan or stone (dusted well with flour), then fold and pinch the extra 1-1/2" of dough over around the edges to form a rim on the crust.

Next spoon out some olive oil (a table spoon or two) onto the middle of your masterpiece and smear it around the area inside the rim, then add your cheese, meat, and veggies, toss the whole thing into the oven for 17 to 20 minutes (depending on your oven), pull it out and let it cool a little, cut it into slices, then grab yourself a napkin and EAT.

Regards Y'all,

The Redneck Gourmet