Here’s what I’ve learned from cooking over the past several years: even the classics can be given a twist from time to time.
Case in point would be a recipe I picked up from one of the cookbooks at home which involves simmering browned pork chops in tomato sauce. In itself, it’s a wholesome dish: properly-cooked pork with a moreish sauce – perfect on top of hot rice. However, the serving suggestion in the book was more than a little fiddly, calling for two side dishes and a soup. Certainly not the sort of thing you’d want to faff about during an evening when everyone’s tired and hungry and wants dinner now.
This version of pork chops in tomato sauce turns it into a composite dish, combining the main course with the veggie sides in a single delicious casserole that’s bound to appeal to even the heartiest appetites and the hungriest diners. Baking allows the chops to absorb more of the flavorful sauce, making them more tender, tastier. A layer of grated cheese on top adds savor, too.
Italian Baked Pork Chops
- 4 bone-in pork chops
- 2 tablespoons cooking oil
- 1 bouillon cube
- 1 small can/retort pack tomato sauce (not the sweet style!)
- 1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed, peeled, and finely chopped
- salt and pepper
- 1 eggplant, peeled and diced
- 6 – 8 string beans, sliced on the bias
- 1/2 cup mild Cheddar cheese, grated
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
- 1/2 cup water
- butter for greasing the baking dish
Season the pork chops with salt, pepper, and half of the Italian seasoning. Heat half the oil in a large pan over medium heat. Brown the pork chops on both sides; drain well and set aside.
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees / Gas Mark 5. Butter an 8-inch baking dish; set aside.
Add the remaining oil to the pan. Sprinkle in the remaining Italian seasoning and heat till fragrant. Add the onion and cook until softened; add the garlic and cook till lightly browned. Add the vegetables and cook for two minutes before adding the bouillon cube, tomato sauce, and water; bring to a boil, stirring till the bouillon has dissolved. Lower heat slightly and add the pork chops. Cook for five minutes.
Transfer the pork chops and sauce to the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the cheese evenly over the top. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes. As this dish is best piping hot, serve immediately.