When I was growing up, Campbell's® soup held a near-daily presence at dinner time, as did other convenience foods such as Bisquick®. I tend to avoid these things, now, but every once in a while you find something that stands the test of time.
In this case, it was a recipe I found long ago in a little Bisquick® cookbook belonging to my mother. It was the sort of booklet you might find on a rack at the supermarket checkout line, or send away for with a money order for a dollar and a couple of box tops. Back when, my mom was into the various "Impossible Pie" recipes in that booklet. We ate so many of them that until recently I've been quite gunshy of anything even remotely resembling quiche. But fear not, this is not a quiche recipe!
As I got a little older, I began to experiment with cooking, and one day – I think I was a freshman in high school – I prepared a pork chop recipe from this booklet for dinner. My dad loved it, and in the two-plus decades that followed, he often requested it when I was home from college or visiting at holidays. Anyway, time went on, I lived alone and cooked small meals for myself, my father passed away, and I forgot all about the little recipe that meant so much to me once upon a time.
Today on the way home from work I swung by the supermarket to pick up a few things. After a long moment of absentminded end-of-the-day wool gathering, I blinked, found myself staring straight at a pack of pork chops, and suddenly...I remembered.
Of course, I had to buy them. I surprised myself by remembering the ingredient list well enough to pick up a few more things I needed. Once home, some rummaging turned up a stained, slightly age-brittle photocopy of the recipe, and I set to work. As I read through it, though, I realized it needed some serious updating. Here follows the result.
I have reduced fat and calories from the original, and also cranked up the flavor substantially with substitutions and additions. My husband, a notorious mushroom hater, is currently gleefully devouring a plateful, and the gravy is even better than I remembered. I sincerely hope you like it.
- 4 to 6 boneless pork loin chops, 1/2 inch (1.25cm) thick
- salt, preferably sea salt, a small pinch per side per chop
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1.5 tablespoons (22g) unsalted butter
- 6 to 8 fresh sage leaves, sliced into pieces roughly 1/3 inch (1 cm) square (or 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon dried sage)
- 5 cloves fresh garlic, or to taste, peeled, smashed and roughly chopped
- 8 ounces (240g) fresh button or cremini mushrooms, stems removed, sliced about 1/2 inch (1.25cm) thick
- a 10.75 oz (310g) can of Campbell's® Healthy Request® cream of mushroom soup, or equivalent
- 3/4 cup (175ml) water
* * *
- 1.5 cups (375ml) Reduced Fat Bisquick® baking mix
- 1/2 cup (125ml) nonfat milk
- 3/4 teaspoon (3.75ml) dried sage leaves, crushed
- 1/2 teaspoon (2.5ml) celery seed
* * *
- 2 tablespoons (30ml) chopped fresh parsley
Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C / moderate / gas mark 4).
Sprinkle the top side of each pork chop lightly with sea salt and black pepper.
Heat a large nonstick frying pan over high heat until you cannot hold your hand over the pan surface for more than about 5 seconds. Lay the pork chops into the pan, seasoned side down, and listen to the instant sizzling. Sprinkle the top sides of the chops with more salt and pepper, then leave them alone for 1 to 2.5 minutes. (If in doubt, go for a shorter time, as the chops will finish cooking in the oven.) By now they should be beautifully browned on the bottom. Flip them over, let them sear for another 1 to 2 minutes, then remove them to a 2 quart square lidded CorningWare® ceramic casserole dish. Keep the chops in a single layer if at all possible. This works fine for 4 pork chops; for six you will probably need to overlap them or use a bigger dish.
While your pan is still over high heat, add the unsalted butter and sage. With a wooden spoon or heat-proof spatula, quickly scrape up the browned bits left over from the pork as the butter melts. When the sage starts to smell heavenly (no more than a minute or two), lower the heat to medium. Pull the pan off the fire to let it cool slightly; this is to prevent scorching the garlic, which is going in next.
Add in the mushrooms and garlic and sauté them for a few minutes. Then, cover the pan, and walk away for a minute. Come back, stir it well, cover the pan again and walk away again. By now, the mushrooms should be a beautiful deep golden brown.
Add in the condensed soup and water, stirring to combine it all well, and reduce the heat to medium-low. Stir occasionally until the mixture has become smooth, lightly browned, and slightly reduced, a minute or three.
Pour the mixture over the pork chops. Cover the dish and bake for one hour or until the pork is tender.
Once your hour is done, pull the dish out. Increase the oven temperature to 425°F (220°C / hot / gas mark 7). Gently combine the baking mix, milk, sage and celery seed in a medium bowl just until it forms a soft and rather sticky dough. Eyeball the dough and divide it so that you will have one portion per chop. Drop each portion on top of a chop. I use my fingers for dividing and dropping the dough, and inevitably I'm trying to scrape my fingers down to get it all off. Once you're done with that, sprinkle everything with parsley. I've found that the parsley likes to fall down into the gravy. That certainly doesn't hurt anything, but using your fingertips to tap it very gently into the dough will help some stay on the dumplings.
Once your oven is up to temperature, put the dish back in the oven again, but this time leave the lid off. Bake about 15 minutes or until the dumplings are lightly browned on the topmost crinkles.
Serve with your favorite vegetables. You may be tempted to serve this with mashed potatoes because of the gravy, but don't. The gravy gets its richness from cooking down, and you'll get just enough to make each chop and dumpling very nummy indeed.
Allow any leftovers to cool, uncovered, before you refrigerate them. The dumplings will get a bit damp regardless, but don't refrigerate them warm lest the sog factor take over. I've tried storing the dumplings separately, but it really doesn't help, as they've baked on top of the gravy and their undersides are soaked anyway. Still, they're definitely worth eating, even cold for breakfast. I'd warm up the meat, though.
Credit and notes
I searched the Betty Crocker® website and was unable to find the original recipe, which is titled "Pork Chops with Herb Dumplings". It calls for a lidded oven-proof skillet. If you have one, that's great, but I don't, which is why I went with the CorningWare®.
If you don't eat pork and/or are a vegetarian, I encourage you to try this recipe with whatever comforts you as a substitute. It would be fine to use extra virgin olive oil instead of butter, as well.
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North American Recipes