Chicken Fried Pork Chops

In Texas, it seems like we will chicken fry just about anything. I’ve seen pickles, short ribs and (of course) the ever popular chicken fried steak, but one of my favorites is the chicken fried pork chop. Pork loin is a very affordable cut of meat, but it can be notoriously dry if overcooked. To keep it moist, I’ve cooked it in the Sous Vide or smoked it as a roast, but the best way to keep loin chops from drying out is to chicken fry it. Pair it with some Sausage Gravy and you are in southern-fried-heaven!

For the brine:
3 cups water
½ cup brine mixture (I used a pre-made store bought)

For the pork chops:
4 boneless pork loin chops, pounded to ½ inch thick
1 cup buttermilk
Few dashes hot sauce (I used Frank’s)
2 cups flour
1 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. salt. More to taste after frying (the brine is fairly salty)
Canola or peanut oil for frying

To prepare the brine: in a medium saucepot, combine water and brine mixture over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Once brine mixture is fully dissolved in water, turn off heat and let cool completely. Pound boneless pork chops to ½ inch thick and pour the cooled brine over the chops. Let sit in refrigerator 6-8 hours.

When ready to cook, remove pork from brine, rinse and pat dry. In one bowl, combine buttermilk and hot sauce (if using). In another, combine flour, black pepper, garlic powder, cayenne pepper and salt. Dip the pork chops in the buttermilk, then dredge in flour mixture. Dip back in the buttermilk and into the flour again to ensure a thick crispy coating.

Heat oil on medium-low heat. Place breaded pork chops in pan when oil looks shimmery (chops should sizzle in pan). Fry for 5-7 minutes per side until crispy. Remove from pan and let drain on a wire rack. Serve as is, or topped with Sausage Gravy.

Wine Pairings:
Montgo Monastrell 2012




Sausage Gravy

Sausage Gravy is a southern staple for breakfast. It is delightful on some homemade biscuits, and (my favorite!) anything chicken fried. It couldn’t be any easier to make, and a perfect way to add flavor and spice to your next brunch. I used hot sausage because I like things spicy, but mild breakfast sausage can easily be substituted if you prefer.


½ tbsp. bacon grease
4 oz. crumbled pork breakfast sausage (I used Jimmy Dean)
2 tbsp. flour
¾ cup milk
Salt & pepper to taste (I like lots of pepper!)

Heat cast iron or heavy bottom skillet on medium-low heat. Add bacon grease and crumbled sausage and stir until cooked throughout, about 5 minutes. Add flour to pan and continue to stir for 2 minutes more, until all of the sausage is coated in flour. Add milk, salt and pepper and let simmer until thick, about 5-8 minutes. Serve immediately over biscuits or Chicken Fried Pork Chops. Enjoy!

La Posta Pizzella Family Vineyard Malbec 2014

La Posta Pizzella Family Vineyard Malbec 2014
Argentina – Mendoza
13.5% ABV
My Rating: 86 points

Argentinian Malbecs are pretty versatile wines. They seem to pair well with most meals, as long as there is lots of meat involved! Malbec is full bodied enough for a big steak, but doesn’t have the same long finish that most Cabernets have, so I prefer it with casual meaty dishes. La Posta Pizzella Malbec is a pretty grape color, with the telltale magenta rim, common in Malbec. There was lots of this wine at Costco, so grab a few bottles to enjoy at a cool weather BBQ.

Lots of blueberry and blackberry, smoke on the front and black pepper with smooth tannins on the finish.

Pair with: burgers, BBQ chicken, ribs, brisket

Recipe Pairings:
Best Baby Back Ribs
Sweet and Salty Pork in Sherry Garlic Sauce

From the winemaker:
“The Pizzella family invites you to journey westward in the Uco Valley for a Sunday afternoon with them. There will be no agenda beyond the sun warming your skin and the air filling your lungs. You will sit at the family table, and with each passing moment, you will become more of a part of it. And it will remind you of important work – to enjoy simpler times.”

Carlos Serres Rioja Reserva 2010

Carlos Serres Rioja Reserva 2010
Spain – Rioja
13.5% ABV
My Rating: 89 points

Costco has some of the best prices and selections of Spanish red wines from Rioja. They get a few new ones in monthly, and you can usually spot the great bargains by reading the labels. Riojas fall into one of four categories; Rioja (under a year aging), Crianza (2 years aging, 1 of which is in oak), Riserva (3 years aging, 1 of which is in oak) and Gran Riserva (5 years aging, 2 of which is in oak). This is a great example of Riserva that is priced better than some of their younger counterparts, and there really is a big difference in the depth and complexity of the wine from the oak aging. This 90% Tempranillo, 10% Graciano blend is a fantastic value at $11.49, worth stocking a few bottles to enjoy with meaty dishes.

Cherry, oak, long finish with well integrated tannins

Pair with: steak, grilled lamb chops, aged cheeses

Recipe Pairing:
Perfectly Seared Steakhouse Steaks
Sous Vide Flank Steak
Instant Pot Carnitas

From the winemaker:
“Carlos Serres was a pioneer in Rioja. He arrived in Spain in 1896 and created one of the first wineries in Haro, in the heart of Rioja. Carlos Serres went on to be an instrumental figure in promoting the early exports of Rioja wines, and today is one of the only a few centenarian producers in Rioja.
Our Rioja is aged 24 months in oak barrels and an additional 12 months in the bottle before its release. It is a complex and elegant wine with aromas and flavors of mature black fruit and mineral notes, a perfect match with grilled meats, stews and stronger cheeses.”

Korean Beef

I didn’t realize how much I would miss all the great take out options in New York until I moved away. Whenever I visit family and friends, I make sure to get my fix at all my favorite places, but between visits, I’ll make mine at home. I love the flavors of Korean BBQ – salty, sweet, garlic and ginger – I could eat it any time. This Korean Beef recipe is easy to make, and really tender since it simmers away in the slow cooker for hours.


1 – 1 ½ lb. flank steak, thinly sliced against the grain
2 -3  tbsp. corn starch
2 tbsp. canola oil, divided
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. ginger, grated

1 cup water
¾ cup soy sauce
½ cup brown sugar
½ tsp. red pepper flakes
2 green onions, whole
1 cup shredded carrots
Green onion, sliced for garnish (optional)

Turn crockpot on low heat, add water, soy sauce, brown sugar, red pepper flakes and green onions and stir together.

Heat heavy bottomed skillet on medium heat and add 1 tbsp. oil. In a medium bowl, toss together sliced flank steak and corn starch until each slice is coated. Add steak strips to skillet and brown on each side, then add to crock pot. Reduce skillet to low heat, add remaining 1 tbsp. oil and sauté garlic and ginger until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add sautéed garlic and ginger to crock pot.

Cover crock pot and cook on low for 3 ½ hours, then add shredded carrots and cover for 30 minutes more. Garnish with sliced green onions and serve over rice or with broccoli.

Montgo Monastrell 2012

Montgo Monastrell 2012
Spain – D.O. Alicante
14.5% ABV
My Rating: 89 points

Costco has been offering some great bargains on Spanish wine, and the Montgo Monastrell 2012 is a steal at $8.99. A quick search online shows this wine being offered at $18 elsewhere, so grab a few bottles of this bold Monastrell, awarded 91 points from wine enthusiast. Monastrell, known as Mourvedre in France, has qualities reminiscent of Zinfandel, but tends to be bolder and a little spicier. This makes it a perfect pairing for pork, and spicy or savory dishes. Since Monastrell tends to be on the inexpensive side, it also makes a nice pairing for casual Mexican food, like tacos or fajitas

Dry with a bit of spice. Blueberry, blackberry, black pepper and oak. Medium tannins on the finish.

Pair with: pork ribs, grilled pork, sausage, Mexican food

Recipe pairings:
Best Baby Back Ribs
Chicken Fried Pork Chops
Sous Vide Carnitas
Green Chile Pork Soup

From the winemaker:

“Montgo Monastrell is a flawless balance between dark fruit and toasted oak. Innovative and passionate winemaking teamed with terroir and historical vineyards, results in a wine bold in personality and independent in its expression.”

Green Chile Pork Soup

Depending on the season, my healthy meal choices revolve around either soups or salads. On a chilly winter day, nothing beats a hot, steaming bowl of soup, and a savory, spicy soup like this warms you from the inside out.  Added bonus! This Green Chile Pork Soup imparts all the flavors of a typical Tex-Mex green chile pork, but is made with the lean tenderloin instead of pork shoulder, which eliminates a substantial portion of the calories. This soup also freezes well and can easily be doubled to stock some in the freezer.

Ingredients (serves 6):
2 lbs. pork tenderloin, cut into cubes
1 tbsp. canola oil
6 cups chicken broth
14 oz. can diced tomatoes
3 poblano peppers, ribs and seeds removed, diced
2 stalks celery, sliced
1 onion, diced
1 lb. potatoes, peeled and cut into bite sized chunks
½ bunch cilantro, tied together
1 tsp. cumin
Salt and pepper, to taste
Juice from ½ lime
Optional garnish: lime wedges, sliced jalapeno, chopped cilantro

In a large stock pot, heat canola oil on medium heat, brown cubed pork tenderloin on all sides, being careful not to overcrowd the pot. Work in batches if necessary. Add chicken broth, diced tomatoes, poblanos, celery, onion, potatoes and cilantro. It’s easier to remove the cilantro at the end of cooking if it’s tied together, but it doesn’t need to be. Add cumin, salt and pepper (I like lots of pepper!). Simmer for 2 hours, until pork is tender. Remove cilantro, and add lime juice before serving. Garnish with lime wedges, sliced jalapenos and chopped cilantro. Enjoy!

Wine pairings:
Montgo Monastrell 2012

Pocas Vale de Cavalos Douro Red 2013

Pocas Vale de Cavalos Douro Red 2013
Portugal – Douro Valley
14% ABV
My Rating: 89 points

Portugal has long been famous for producing fantastic Ports, but red blends from Douro Valley can be exceptional values. These table wines are garnering quite a bit of attention from top wine raters (3 of the top 4 wines on Wine Spectator’s Top 100 list in 2014 were from Portugal) and they are starting to show up at discount wine retailers. This wine is a great example; a 50% Touriga Nacional, 20% Touriga Franca, 20% Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo in Spain), 10% Tinta Barroca blend from Portugal, aged in American and French oak for 8 months, followed by a fining period in stainless steel. Grab a few bottles of this one to enjoy over the next few years.

Currants, blackberry, cherry, spiced oak. Dry with well integrated acidity and tannins.

Pair with: Perfectly Seared Steakhouse Steak, lamb, aged cheeses

From the winemaker:
“From the region of Douro Superior, and vinified at Quinta das Quartas, this lovely red embodies red fruit with a touch of balsamic and oak.
Produced with grapes from the Douro Superior region, this red wine embodies aromas of dark cherry fruit and a touch of spice. A parcel matured for eight months in French and American oak barrels. Enjoy with meat, an assortment of medium and full bodied cheeses, as well as wild game.”


I love good food, cooking, wine, and traveling.

One of the things I’ve realized over years is that I learn best when I’m writing things down. I remember the way wine and food taste, the best memories from vacations, and how to make my favorite dishes.

I love wine tasting and pairing wine with my favorite dishes. A perfectly paired wine really enhances a meal. Unless I’m buying for a special occasion, most of the wine in my house is under $20 a bottle. I’m obsessed with the wine departments at Trader Joe’s and Costco, but for very different reasons.

Trader Joe’s has a vast selection of wines under $10, probably more than any other store I’ve seen, but it takes some weeding through to determine if a wine is a bargain… or just cheap. The best bargains at Trader Joe’s are found under labels that are bottled for, and exclusive to Trader Joe’s. You won’t find them anywhere else, and they are usually in stock all year.

On the other hand, Costco’s wine department is forever rotating. They get some great buys on wines that are carried at other retailers, but offer them at a savings, sometimes substantial. They buy them in bulk, and when they’re gone, they’re gone, so buy a case if you find something you like!

Over the next couple of months, I’ll be adding my favorite finds from Trader Joe’s, Costco and some of my other favorites under $20, with pairings to some of my favorite recipes. I hope you enjoy!