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  • Writer's pictureTommy Centola

Finishing competition in big way

I just got back from a quick weekend trip to New Orleans. March 29-30 was the 11th annual Hogs for the Cause BBQ competition/festival. This year was the 5th year for team Rugaroux Q, a team consisting of my brothers, brother-in-law, and friends. From April 2019 to March 2019, Hogs for the Cause raised two million dollars for families dealing with Pediatric Brain Cancer. More than 800 direct grants to families in need have been made to children’s hospitals in New Orleans, South and North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Atlanta.

It was also a banner year for team Rugaroux Q. This year, we placed 8th overall out of 92 teams. Our top score was a 2nd place finish in the Whole Hog category. We also raised over $12,000 for the cause.

You would think that after a weekend full of pork that recipes for this meat would not be on my mind. The one type of pork that I did not see out there were pork chops. What a better way to close this years competition that with three recipes: Sauerkraut and Pork Chops, Pannee Pork Chops and Lyonnaise Potatoes and Smothered Pork Chops.

A trip back to New Orleans always brings back some memories. So, I reached in to my collection of my mother’s recipes and found one of her favorites. Since her picky eaters at home did not care for sauerkraut, she often prepared this dish for covered-dish suppers.

Sauerkraut and Pork Chops

6 Pork Chops

1/2 pound Bacon, diced

1 15oz can Apple Sauce

1 19oz can Sauerkraut, rinsed and drained

1 tablespoon Brown Sugar

1/2 teaspoon Dry Mustard

1/4 cup dry White Wine or Chicken Stock

1/4 teaspoon Paprika

Dash Pepper

Fry Bacon and drain. Save drippings. Mix bacon, sauerkraut and apple sauce. Add brown sugar, mustard, wine, paprika, and pepper. Put in casserole. Brown pork chops in bacon drippings. Put chops on top of sauerkraut. Cover and bake in a 350 degree oven for 1 hour or until chops are tender.

This next recipe comes from Chef Warren Leruth’s cookbook, Front Door Back Door cookbook. LeRuth’s, my first job, was a 5-star restaurant that was only open for dinner. Every day around 4pm, the staff would gather around a long table brought into the kitchen for their staff meal. This was one of the dishes that would often show up for this meal. It is great down home New Orleans cooking.

Pannee Pork Chops and Lyonnaise Potatoes

2 cups White Onions (sliced)

1/2 cup Vegetable Oil (divided)

1 teaspoon Garlic Salt

2 eggs (beaten)

6 thin Pork Chops

1/3 cup Flour

1/2 cup fine Bread Crumbs

1/2 cup Butter

3 cups New Potatoes (boiled, peeled & sliced)

Salt to taste

Cook onions slowly in one fourth cup oil, approximately thirty minutes until limp but not brown. Set Aside. Meanwhile, mix garlic salt into eggs, dip chops in flour, then egg and coat with crumbs. Sauté chops in remaining oil over medium heat until brown on both sides. Lower heat and cook slowly until done. Melt butter and gently sauté potatoes until lightly brown. Combine cooked onions and potatoes and season with salt. Serve immediately with pork chops.

The cooking technique of smothering is a staple in Creole and Cajun cooking. It is a simple and tasty way to cook meats, seafoods and vegetables. Rice makes a great side dish for smothered meats, topped with the gravy from the pan.

Smothered Pork Chops

3 Pork Chops (8 ounces each)

Creole Seasoning to taste

2 tablespoons Flour

1/2 cup Vegetable Oil

1 cup Water

2 Onions, sliced

1 Green Bell Pepper, cut into long strips

Rub chops with creole seasoning and dredge each chop in flour, coating lightly. Heat oil in a large sauté pan over high heat. Place chops in hot oil and brown about 4 minutes per side. Drain out excess oil. Add water and scrape the bottom of the pan. Turn chops over. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and let cook for 5 minutes. Add onions on top of chops, cover, and cook until onions are just soft, about 10 minutes. Add bell pepper. Season, to taste with more Creole seasoning and let simmer for 5 minutes longer.

Although I am happy to share these recipes with you, there is one dish I am happy I will not see until next year. I spend the two days manning the griddle and cooking Pulled Pork Pimento Cheese Grilled Cheese sandwiches. As tasty as they were, I will not be cooking one until next March. I hope you have a porktastic day!

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