Okay, I am a self admitted food snob but I am also a bit of an inconsistent food snob. The bottom line is that I like delicious food and for the most part, that also means real, whole foods. Blah blah blah
I also love McDonald's fries, Nacho Cheese Doritos with a hot , white passion and don't even think about getting me to promise that I will never eat doctored up ramen again. So, admitting that I do love selective crappy foods, I have been feeling a bit guilty about my rantings and railings against the use of "cream of cack" in dishes that are , otherwise, composed of yummy ingredients.
I also have to admit that I have lots of time to cook things from scratch during the week because I work freelance (which often means that I don't work for days on end and can sit at home on my butt, playing Candy Crush Saga on facebook and soak great white northern beans for soup) and I only have one kid who is gone from 8:30am to 6pm because, unlike his mother, he WORKS after school most days.
So, I have been gently lectured by some busy, working moms with lots of kids and crazy schedules. They say that sometimes a crock pot and a well place can of cream of mushroom soup can save the day and it's often the only thing standing between a meal with meat and veggies and a take out pizza or drive thru.
This has been weighing on my mind lately as it is and then I saw this recipe for Slow Cooker Pork Chops in Dijon Paprika Sauce on The Cooking Photographer. For some reason I really wanted to make this. Perhaps it reminded me of something my mom would have made (she had no problem throwing cans of cream soup at anything that moved), I don't know, but I kept craving it and trying to figure out ways to get around the whole cream of cack thing. Today I was going to make it and was thinking that I should make a béchamel and then use cream and some stock and wondering if that would work. I looked up and found myself in the soup aisle of the grocery store and there it was, staring me in the face. Campbells cream of chicken soup in a can.
Why couldn't I just pick it up? What is going to kill me about using a can of soup? I could get the healthy choice stuff with less sodium and that wouldn't be that bad. I have no problem using Campbells low sodium chicken stock in the tetra pack all the live long day but I have a mental block when it comes to this stuff.
I finally decided to confront my fear and I grabbed a can and ran out of the store before I could change my mind. Okay, I didn't run right out of the store because that would be shoplifting, but I did go straight to the cashier before I could change my mind.
I made a couple of changes, used smoked paprika and grainy mustard and stock instead of cooking sherry - I can't get on board with cooking sherry even if I did just use a can of cream of cack. A girl has to draw lines in the sand at some point.
I KNEW that Shack would like it and he did. I have to admit that it was really good, it took about five minutes to assemble, including the browning of the chops, it was tastier than I want to admit AND it was reminiscent of something my mom would have made us growing up and that is never a bad thing, is it? She would have never used the mustard or smoked paprika though and you couldn't really taste the soup - it was really more for substance and texture and ease.
Shack had a lot of opinions about it and how to make it even better next time and they were good ideas. He suggested using a pork roast or pork butt that would actually fall apart and shred into the sauce and instead of putting potatoes in it, make it more like a stew with root veggies and then serve it over rice. RICE!
He never wants me to serve rice but, there it is. They both really liked the flavour of the sauce but they didn't love the actual chops (they aren't big chop people in the first place so if you and your people are chop people, carry on with those).
Am I going to use canned cream soup all the time now? No, but even I have to admit it was fast, easy and really tasty and way healthier than ordering in pizza.
Smoky Dijon Crock Chops
adapted from The Cooking Photographer
1 1/2 lbs red and white potatoes quartered
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 onion, sliced
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/4 + 2 tbls chicken stock
1/4 old fashioned grainy dijon
a few sprigs fresh thyme
2 tsp smoked paprika
glug olive oil
approx 650kg (or about 1.5 lbs) center cut bonless pork chops
salt and pepper
Oil the inside of the crock pot with a bit of olive oil and cover the bottom with your potatoes. Sprinkle the garlic and sliced onions on top of that.
Now, mix together the chicken soup, 1/4 cup chicken stock, mustard, thyme and the paprikas and pour that over the potatoes.
In a frying pan, heat a little glug of olive oil over med high heat, salt and pepper your pork chops and brown them. When they have a nice bit of colour on both sides, lay them on top of the potatoes and sauce. Add a couple tbls chicken stock to the frying pan to deglaze it and scrape all of that on top of the pork.
Cook over low heat for about 7 hours or on high for about 3 1/2 hours.
To serve, put a couple pork chops (mine were small so if you got fewer, bigger chops, divide it up accordingly) and some potatoes on each plate and spoon some sauce over both.