Most recipes for smothered anything involved a can of condensed soup, usually cream of mushroom. But we think you can do better. Kick the can and start from scratch. It’s surprisingly easy.
You’re going to need your cast iron skillet, dutch oven, or another large pan. Also, you need a small saucepan, around two-quart size.
Start with four pork chops. Place them in a single layer (or as close as you can get) in a plastic container that can be sealed. Mix in a bowl or other container a simple marinade of red wine vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, Worcestershire sauce, a few of your favorite spices, and a couple cloves of minced garlic. You want a little more vinegar than oil and don’t skip the garlic. Because we’re going to leave this on the counter in the sealed container, the garlic acts as a natural anti-bacterial. Along with the vinegar, you can leave the meat at room temperature for up to two hours.
While the meat is marinating, chop half an onion into rough pieces. Mince another two cloves of garlic, this time for flavor. Rinse about eight ounces of sliced mushrooms. Heat up your skillet over medium heat. Add about two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, then your onions. Stirring often, cook the onions until they just begin to brown at the edges. Add in the mushrooms. A pinch or two of salt will help bring out the moisture in both the onions and mushrooms and help the caramelization. Now is the time to add the garlic. Don’t add it too soon as it will burn and turn bitter. Some ground pepper will also help.
Meanwhile, put your saucepan over medium-low heat and add two or three tablespoons of butter. Allow it to melt. Slowly whisk in an equal amount of flour and whisk into a paste. VERY slowly add about two cups of milk, whisking constantly. Turn the heat down to low and when the mix begins to thicken, add the mushroom and onion mix. Allow it to simmer lightly, stirring frequently.
Put the skillet back over medium heat and add another tablespoon of olive oil. One at a time, place chops in the pan. Let the meat sit for about two minutes, then turn it over onto another area of the pan. Wait a minute and add the next chop. Do not crowd the pan. After both sides are browned, you can stack the chops if you need the space. Once all the chops are browned, spread them out in a single layer and pour in enough of the marinade to cover the bottom. After five minutes, turn the meat over.
By now, the mushroom sauce should have thickened a lot. Pour it over the chops, cover the skillet, and turn the heat to low. Allow the chops to simmer for another five to ten minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 125ºF. Turn off the heat and finish your side dishes. Rice or potatoes go well, along with some steamed broccoli.
Who needs canned soup?