John Welles’s first day of school at the University of Maryland was marred by a bad case of nerves. His Aunt Prudence eased the situation by planning a large, country-style breakfast like those John used to enjoy as a boy on the farm. Unfortunately, Prudence couldn’t cook to save her life, but the rich socialite didn’t trouble herself with such minor details. Instead, she wisely placed all responsibility for any culinary success upon her brilliant cook, Lucia.
The ever-observant Lucia knew there was more troubling John than new school jitters. She calmed his distress by preparing his favorite dishes including pan-fried pork chops, fried apples, buttermilk biscuits, and fried eggs. The following recipe for pork chops is the one I had in mind for the above-mentioned scene. The originator of the recipe is the type of cook who doesn’t measure as she creates, preferring to cook by taste, smell, and sight. I watched closely, and being a good judge of quantity, I copy-catted her recipe for this post.
2 center cut, bone-in pork chops
2 T olive oil
Approximately 1 c buttermilk
1 t honey
1 T rosemary
½ t salt
Several grinds of black pepper (I used quad-color peppercorns when preparing the chops.)
Rinse the pork chops and pat them dry. Don’t trim the fat as it will flavor the chops while cooking. You can trim them afterward if you desire.
Put 2 T of olive oil in a one-cup measure and fill with buttermilk to make a full cup. Pour into a mixing bowl and add the honey, salt, pepper, and rosemary. Whisk thoroughly.
Pour half the marinade in an 8 x 8 glass baking dish, add the chops, and pour the remaining marinade over the top. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate in the refrigerator at least four hours or overnight.
¼ c flour
2 T yellow cornmeal
½ t salt
¼ t garlic powder
¼ t onion powder
¼ – ½ t cumin
¼ freshly cracked black pepper (Again, I used quad-colored peppercorns.)
Combine the dry ingredients. Remove the chops from the marinade and drain them thoroughly. Dredge them through the coating mixture on each side.
2 T unsalted butter
Bring the butter and enough peanut oil to cover the bottom of a 12-inch cast iron skillet to a medium-high heat. Place the coated chops in the skillet and fry each side for eight minutes, turning in four-minute intervals, until they are no longer pink inside and the coating is crispy.
Serve with the suggested menu items for which I have provided recipes. This recipe can be increased as needed by doubling or tripling the quantities.