Tender boneless pork chops are slow cooked in their own rich brown gravy. Served over whipped mashed potatoes & topped with crispy crumbled bacon- these crockpot smothered pork chops are an excellent meat & potatoes meal that’s the ultimate in comfort food.
As the household ‘chef’, or primary cooker of main meals, you’d usually think you have a general idea of everyone’s palates and tastes and going on that info alone.
You’d think you’d have a pretty good idea of what recipes will be a hit or a miss.
But even with all that information handy, most pork chop recipes have always been more of a miss than a hit for me in the dinner dept.
There’s never been anything particular to lay the finger on, just more of nothing being a show-stopper.
And apparently that’s the bar I’ve set.
I am so glad now though that I hadn’t given up completely on finding a successful recipe, especially with my husband!
After all, the hubs is my pickiest eater.
Finally with these crockpot smothered pork chops, we have a winner!
Why Call Them Smothered?
While smothered may not typically be something I’d enjoy hearing, when it comes to these pork chops, it is essential.
‘Smothering’ is actually a whole style of cooking in the South.
It involves creating a savory gravy, one that usually begins by rendering (cooking down) bacon.
Vegetables are added and cooked in the fat, along with various seasonings and flavorings.
The sauce is then thickened into a gravy like consistency which bathes your seared meat of choice.
The meat will finish cooking in the sauce so that it really absorbs the flavor on every level.
It’s also served ‘smothered’ with the thick gravy.
It’s one of my favorite ways to take simple cuts of meat like chicken breasts or pork chops to the next level.
Slow Cooking Is The Trick For Pork Chops
Usually Southern smothered dishes are made in cast iron skillets, or Dutch ovens.
My Grandma would swear by that method, I assure you.
Pork chops though are a fickle thing to cook with.
They’re such a lean cut of meat it can be tricky to cook them in a way that leaves them juicy & tender, instead of overly dry.
Nobody wants a sad, dry pork chop for supper. Especially not when this savory gravy is on the line.
Pork chops cook so quickly, whether on the grill, stove top, even in the oven- before you know it they’ve become tough, chewy, and no longer appealing.
Thankfully, that’s where slow cooking in the crockpot comes into play.
This low and slow method lets them absorb all the delicious flavors of the gravy, without drying out or over-cooking.
All with minimal work or involvement on your part!
Talking about cooking techniques may make this crockpot smothered pork chops recipe sound complicated, but it’s really not.
The ingredient list is pretty simple!
- pork chops
- brown sugar
- salt & pepper
- chicken broth
- soy sauce
- corn starch
- bay leaves
- apple cider vinegar
- fresh parsley
How To Make
As mentioned above, any good ‘smothered’ recipe worth it’s salt begins with bacon.
Start this crockpot smothered pork chops recipe off by cooking the bacon in a large skillet over medium/medium high heat. Turning it as needed, until the bacon’s cooked crisp.
Remove the bacon to a paper towel lined plate to let the excess grease drain away.
Discard all but roughly two tablespoons of the bacon grease, leaving that in the pan.
Add sliced white onions, brown sugar, garlic, thyme, and salt to the remaining grease. Gently stir everything to combine.
Cook the seasoned onions over medium heat, stirring often, until they’ve begun to caramelize. This can take anywhere from 10-15 minutes.
Pour 1 cup of chicken broth into the skillet, and use a sturdy wooden spoon to scrape the bottom of the pan.
Make sure to dislodge and stuck on browned bits- these are flavor gold, don’t skip this step!
Carefully pour this onion sauce mixture into the waiting bowl of your crockpot, using a spatula to scrape it all away and into the pot.
Whisk in two more cups of chicken broth, the remaining brown sugar, soy sauce, and bay leaves.
Season all of the chops liberally with salt & pepper, and then add them to the bowl of the crockpot.
Use the spatula to gently press them down into the juices.
Cover and cook on low for 6-7 hours. Alternatively, you can cook them on high for 4-5 hours.
When there’s only an hour left of cooking time, gently stir in the cornstarch slurry.
That’s an equal mixture of two tablespoons cornstarch & water, stirred together until smooth.
Using a pair of tongs, carefully remove the pork chops to a waiting plate, and cover them tightly with foil.
Finishing The Gravy
Remove the bay leaves from the liquid in the crockpot.
At this point you have options. You can proceed with everything left in the bowl of the crockpot, and mixing it from there.
Or you can take an extra step to remove excess, unwanted fat from the gravy.
I’ve done both, and I prefer taking the extra step.
To do this, carefully transfer the gravy liquid to a large waiting bowl. Use potholder to handle your hot crock and pour, or ladle the mixture instead.
Let the mixture rest for 5-10 minutes, and use a spoon to remove any obvious fat or grease hanging out on top.
Whisk in the apple cider vinegar, and season the gravy with salt & pepper- to taste.
Serve the pork chops with a generous ladle of onion gravy served over top.
Top with crisp crumbled bacon & chopped, fresh parsley leaves.
If you’re unsure about cooking with pork chops, or have been burned by pork chop recipes before- this is a perfect starting-over/beginning point.
Tips & Tricks For This Recipe
- Use good quality pork chops. I recommend boneless, and look for ones on the thicker side.
- You can use either white or yellow onions in this recipe, but don’t try substituting red onions.
- Serve the pork chops with mashed potatoes or cooked white rice. You can serve it on the side, or as a bed for the chops and gravy.
- Taste the gravy, carefully because it will be hot, before seasoning with extra salt. Its next to impossible to un-salt an over seasoned gravy.
Slow cooked, all day long, in their rich, onion-based gravy they’re fall-apart tender and every bite is dee-vine. Topped with a generous bit of crisp, crumbled bacon and parsley? Ohhhhh, yes.
We serve our crockpot smothered pork chops over a bed of fluffy mashed potatoes so we can truly appreciate every single bit of gravy, even after the chops are gone.
And don’t forget the hunk of crusty bread on the side, you know, to sop up any possible remaining juices.
This meal’s good to the last drop!
Other Savory Pork Chop & Gravy Recipes To Try
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Crockpot Smothered Pork Chops
- 5 strips of bacon cut into small pieces
- 2 onions thinly sliced
- 4 tsp brown sugar divided
- 4 garlic coves minced
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- salt and pepper to taste
- 3 cups chicken broth
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 2 tbsp cornstarch + 2 tbsp water
- 2 bay leaves
- 6 pork chops quality cuts
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- fresh parsley for garnish
- In a large skillet or sauce pan, over medium heat, cook the bacon until crisp.
- Place the cooked bacon on paper towels to soak up the excess grease, leaving bacon fat in pan.
- Discard all but about 2 tbsp of the remaining bacon fat and add in the onions, 2 tsp of the brown sugar, garlic, thyme, and salt. Cook, stirring often until the onions have softened and have begun to caramelize, about 15 minutes.
- Add in 1 cup of the chicken broth, scraping the bottom of the pan to remove any stuck on browned bits. You want those!
- Place the mixture in crock pot and add on the remaining 2 cups of chicken broth.
- Add in the remaining 2 tsp brown sugar, soy sauce, and bay leaves. Stir to combine
- Season the pork chops liberally with salt and pepper and add them into the crock pot, pushing them down into the juices.
- Cover and cook on low for 6-7 hours or high for 4-5 hours. When there’s only an hour or so left, stir in the cornstarch and water mixture to the gravy.
- Place pork chops on a serving plate and cover with foil.
- Remove the bay leaves from the gravy and transfer the ‘gravy’ to a bowl to ‘rest’ for 5 minutes. Scrape off as much fat from the surface as possible.
- Stir in the vinegar and add any additional salt and pepper, if needed.
- Serve the finished pork chops over a bed of mashed potatoes, or even cooked rice. Ladle a generous helping of onion gravy over the top of the pork chops and top with bacon and parsley before serving.
recipe originally published June 10, 2015