Old Favorite, New Twist (Recipe: Baked Pork Chops with Tomatoes and Rice)
While I never lived in coastal rice country such as Savannah or Charleston, rice was an important part of our cuisine. It was inexpensive and accessible. It made a better host for gravy than mashed potatoes because of the ease of preparation. Chicken and rice was a staple for us. A favorite side dish was tomatoes and rice.
Taking inspiration from tomatoes and rice, I created a one dish bake-in-the-oven meal. My choice for rice is Basmati which was unknown to my mother and grandmother. They pretty much stuck with Mahatma Rice. Basmati is an imported rice that has a butter popcorn flavor. I don’t know if Basmati would have even been available to them.
The contents of this dinner just fit in my 12-inch cast iron skillet. It was brimming full but the skillet managed to contain it all. For larger quantities, the recipe can be doubled and cook in a big Dutch oven. The cooking times might need to be adjusted. Cook until most of the liquid has been absorbed by the rice and the pork chops are tender and the juices run clear.
My mother, especially, would have loved this dish. And she would have thought I was so smart for coming up with it.
I don’t know about smart. I just know what tastes good, how to keep it simple and how to add to it to feed lots of people. If that’s being smart, I’ll accept it.
Y’all come see us!
Baked Pork Chops with Tomatoes and Rice
yield: 4 to 6 servings
A one dish meal that goes on auto-pilot once it’s put together and in the oven. The pork chops are tender and juicy and the rice is flavorful.
4 to 6 bone in pork loin chops
2 tablespoons bacon grease
1 1/2 cups rice (I use Basmati)
1 sweet onion, chopped
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
3 cups water
Sprinkle pork chops generously with seasoned salt. Let them come to room temperature for one hour prior to baking. Melt bacon drippings in a large hot skillet. Brown chops on both sides. Remove from skillet.
Add rice and onion to skillet and cook, stirring constantly, for 3 to 4 minutes or until rice has started to brown and onion has softened.
Stir in tomatoes and seasoned salt.
Place pork chops on top of rice.
Add water to skillet. Cover and bake covered at 350 degrees for one hour. Remove from oven, keep covered and let sit for 15 minutes.