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Pork Chops & Other Good Things

Pork Chops

by John Raven, Ph. B.

Richard, Scott and I have formed a loose knit organization called "Tres Amigos" (Three Friends). The purpose of our organization is to spend a little quality time together and do man things. Most of our meetings are held around the fire pit at my camp site. We discuss issues of great importance and cook things, and then eat what we have cooked.

Our latest meeting was held without Richard, who had a mission of mercy to perform, so we were Tres Amigos minus One. Scott showed up at the camp site a little before noon. We exchanged news of vital importance and discussed world happenings. Then it was time to cook.

Scott brought his Dutch oven, a half dozen pork chops, two cans of sauerkraut and a couple of sweet potatoes. It was his turn to cook.

We gathered some oak wood and started a fire in the fire pit. While the logs burned down to coals, Scott seasoned the pork chops with salt and pepper. The sweet potatoes were wiped clean and wrapped tightly in foil.

When the coals were ready, the Dutch oven was heated and some fat trimmed from the pork chops was used to grease the bottom. Scott then browned the pork chops on both sides. When the chops were browned, three of the chops were left flat on the bottom of the Dutch oven, a can of drained sauerkraut was spread over them. Then, another layer of the remaining chops and another can of drained sauerkraut. The lid was fitted tightly in place and the Dutch oven brought to a slow simmer. The sweet potatoes went on the edge of the fire where they were turned frequently to equalize the heat.

In an hour or so, we were enjoying a great meal in the warm Texas sun. The steaming sweet potatoes were slipped out of their skins and given a slight sprinkle of salt and a pat or two of butter. Some sourdough bread was handy for sopping up the pork chop and sauerkraut gravy. Dee-Licious.

In an hour or so, we were enjoying a great meal in the warm Texas sun.
If you don't have the wherewithal to prepare chops and kraut in the great outdoors, you can do a very satisfactory job in the privacy of your own kitchen. You will need: 4-6 pork chops about one-half inch thick, two 15-ounce cans of sauerkraut, as many sweet potatoes as you deem necessary, and salt, pepper and butter.

Trim the chops of excess fat and season on both sides with salt and pepper. Use some of the trimmed fat to lubricate the bottom of a heavy skillet or pot. Brown the chops on both sides and then layer with the drained sauerkraut. Cover and reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for an hour or an hour and a half. Don't add any liquid to the pot unless you just have to keep it from burning. If the kraut caramelizes and gets just a little crisp around the edges, it's just that much better.

I would like to suggest that the sauerkraut might be a little tart for some of the members of your family. A teaspoon of sugar should take the tartness out. Also, I was thinking that a sweet, sliced apple might be layered in with the kraut. I'm going to try that next time I do this recipe. If you try it before I do, let me know what you think.

The sweet potatoes can be baked sans foil in the oven. About 350 degrees for an hour or so should do it. When the sweet potato feels soft, it's probably done. Be careful slipping the skins off the sweet potatoes, they are hot. Dab on as much butter as you dare and a little salt.

Scott's Red Fish

Campfire Cooking
Earlier this season, Scott grilled some red fish for us, and it was about the best grilled fish I've ever eaten. Scott filleted the red fish, which must have weighed about six or seven pounds live. He left the skin and scales intact on the filets.

The red fish was put on the grill, skin side down, seasoned with lemon pepper and brushed with Italian seasoning. The skin and scales charred and formed a leak-proof container that kept the fish as moist as you could hope for. The fish was served "on the half shell", so to speak. Really simple, really good. Try it sometime. If you can't find red fish (red drum in some parts), snapper or other scaled fish should work just as good.

Harry and the Greens

My good friend Harry Marlin, who holds court in Brownwood, Texas, has been around a while and knows his country cooking. Harry grew up during the Great Depression and has created a second career for himself writing about what it was like to be poor in West Texas. Harry said one time that when he was young, "We was so poor, our rainbows were black and white". Harry has two books out and does a weekly column for the Brownwood newspaper.

Harry maintains a garden in his backyard that is known as "Harry's Little Acre". Mostly he raises greens. Chard, mustard, turnip and whatever else that is in vogue. Harry sent me a new greens recipe today that he wants to share with the world.

Harry's Greens

  • 1 bunch of greens, Swiss chard, Collards, Mustard or a mixture of any of them
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil or bacon grease
  • 4 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • Chicken stock
In a large pot, saut the garlic in the olive oil if you are having company, use the bacon grease for family.

Wash the greens and dry them as well as possible. Roll them up and cut into one inch slices.

Saut the greens in the garlic oil until they are wilted pretty good.

Cover with chicken stock (homemade is best), add some chopped ham or a ham bone and simmer fifteen minutes or so.

Harry says to be sure and serve cornbread with the greens because if you don't, "No telling what will happen".

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