On any given Sunday growing up you would smell my mom’s cooking throughout the house. I actually think you could smell it from outside as you approached our home, and it is because of this that I believe she would make all of our neighbors envious of the aroma too. That aroma belonging to the smell of slowly simmering “meat sauce” on the stove top in the early morning. My mother, very often would start off her Sunday making meatballs, browning braccioli, and pork chops. Then letting them all simmer in a lovely tomato sauce that she made from scratch. As it all cooked and married together she would gently skim the excess fat that rose to the top of the pot leaving these purely intense flavors of what Sunday and being Italian really meant to me. When we would return from Sunday mass was when our feast would start. My mom would place a pot of water on the stove to boil and it was me and my sister’s job to set the table.
We would sit as a family and feast on pasta, meat, veggies, and a salad. We enjoyed it all and the fun was getting to pick what type of meat you wanted to eat. My sister always had a meatball…I on the other hand always went for the pork chop. Both were delicious, but the pork chop was so tender from braising in the tomato sauce. It would literally fall off the bone and you could cut it with your fork. I always enjoyed eating bite after bite of it with the vegetable my mother prepared for the meal. My mom is a fantastic cook; if you could not tell from this by now!
I was thinking of these fond memories of my mom’s Sunday dinner while I was traveling. The smell of that sauce on the stove was home to me. I wanted to recreate it; even if I do not eat meat. I wanted to make it for my husband. I knew he would love walking into our apartment and having the aroma envelope him. I knew he would love finding out that I made a traditional Sunday meal from my childhood. No offence to my mom, but for one person to eat I did not feel the need to go through the making of the meatballs or the braccioli…I would stick to my old favorite the pork chop. I don’t think Brian will miss the other stuff. My mom would be so proud knowing her meals are my inspiration!
Pork Chops in Sunday’s Sauce (feeds 4)
4 center cut Pork Chops, seasoned with sea salt and black pepper
½ yellow onion, chopped finely
1 – 2 carrots, chopped small
2 stalks of celery, chopped small
2 cloves of garlic, minced
¼ tsp of crushed red pepper
¼ tsp of dried oregano
1 28 oz can of whole, peeled tomatoes - pureed
2 tbsp of olive oil
¼ cup of red wine (Merlot or Chianti)
Sea Salt and Black Pepper to taste
1 pound of pasta (cooked to packaged instructions)
First, place a large sauté pan over high heat and pour in your olive oil when pan is heated. Place your pork chops in the hot pan gently and let brown on each side. This will be about 2 minutes per side. Remove from the pan and set aside to rest. (Some of your fat from your chops will render into the pan; this is exactly what you are looking for.)
Next, in the same pan place your onion, carrot, and celery and sauté gently- about 5 minutes. When your onion becomes clear and translucent you may add in your garlic, oregano and crushed red pepper. Stir together about a minute or two. Be sure to keep an eye on your garlic; you do not want it to brown! Lower your pan temperature to a low / medium heat and add your tomato puree, and heat through. Add about 1 cup of water and your wine and bring to a simmer. Be sure your ingredients are stirred well.
Then, place your pork chops into your pan and submerge into the sauce. Bring it to a simmer and cover your pan partially. Be sure your pan is on low heat and cook about an hour and a half. Keep an eye on your sauce, stirring occasionally; and adding a bit more water if you feel it is reducing too much and becoming too thick.
Finally, you can start to cook your pasta and skim off any excess fat that may have accumulated at the top of your sauce pan. When your pasta is cooked through you can drain your pasta and remove your pork chops to a serving platter. Add your pasta to your sauce and toss over low heat about a minute before serving. Taste and adjust with sea salt and black pepper as needed. Place pasta and sauce on serving plate and serve with freshly grated parmesan cheese. Enjoy.