Browning Pork Chops or How To Start A Kitchen Fire

Browned Pork Chops

My Kitchen Expertise

I know how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and how to whip up a quick bowl of Cheerios.
Other than those staples, I’ve depended on Frances for almost 55 years to produce something edible.

Skipping the part about arriving at a guilty conclusion, I bought a slow cooker and a recipe book. It turns out, I can cook. Chef Ramsay will be calling me any day now.

The book has a general theme for most recipes: mix some stuff, called spices, together in a bowl, put some protein in the cooker and pour the mixture over it. About a half a day later, a tasty meal is ready.
I was getting good. The only thing is that the slow cooker doesn’t brown the meat and you really don’t want it to look raw. I read that it helps looks and taste to sauté pork before placing it in the cooker.

Have you ever had such a firm grip on a fact that you’ve never felt the need to verify it? I had that experience with “sauté.” I thought it might be French but it turns out to be a CIA word to describe an apocalyptical event.

Olive Oil Is Good For Everything

You can stop hinges from squeaking, put it on a red ant bed, and cook with it. I gathered my ingredients.

A Yummy Preparation

Getting back to the “fact”, I knew that in order to brown the chops, the skillet had to be as hot as possible. Would you believe that a ceramic stovetop can get incredibly hot? Did you know there is such a thing called a “bridge” burner that is a funny shaped burner between the front and rear burners?

She Knew All Along

Later Frances said she knew that I had the oil too hot. I asked how she would know that. “Oh,” she said, “the noise … the smell … the way you were jumping.”
“Why didn’t you say anything?”
“I didn’t want to interfere. Besides, I thought you’d turn down the heat, move the pan away, not drop a cold pork chop into the oil with half of the stove glowing like the flow from Kilauea.

She was right. Have you heard bacon sizzle and been popped by a spot of grease?
I had that on steroids.
Sizzle, hah! The kitchen was inundated with the crackling, unceasing sound of tornado energized hail furiously slamming a tin roof.

Not only did I drop a cold pork chop into the inferno, I did it six times. And the chops were more than cold. The thick-cut chops were thawed in the refrigerator overnight but were still icy in the middle.
When water immediately converts to steam, it doesn’t transition gently.

Along About Here, She Said Something

Frances finally came to realize that she had to pull an intervention to save the kitchen.
There was no fire.
There was, however, a ceramic stove top with a cooked-on brown crust, an oily overhead microwave … and counter … and floor.

My t-shirt was machine-gunned with grease bullets. Two washings later, after spraying with stain remover each time, the olive oil is still winning.

But, you ask, how about the pork chops?
They came out tender and edible. But the next time, I won’t put in two cloves of garlic and a tablespoon of garlic powder. A greasy, garlicky house kind of dims the ambience somewhat. It might be a good thing that the taste of basil, rosemary, or one of the other spices overpowered everything else.

And there will be a next time. Frances is so appreciative of my feeble attempts that she even tried a turkey chowder I concocted. You can’t let down such faith.

How are your culinary skills? Leave a comment.

Writing Fiction is posted on Wednesdays.

Thank a veteran.

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