Ever wonder who decided fluffy biscuits infused with tangy fruit jam would be an unforgettable combination? Who was the creator of the first plate of bacon and eggs? Has the genius who served crispy, salty French fries alongside a juicy burger been singled out? The mastermind who first poured hot melted butter over bland popcorn needs to be applauded. These and other questions arose in my mind this week as I made a baked dish I’ve dubbed “Shrimp boil in a bowl." It's a delicious combination of boiled shrimp, sausage, and potatoes.
As I added the spicy ingredients to a large dish and baked them in a creamy cheese sauce, I wondered who decided tangy boiled shrimp pairs wonderfully with soft, succulent potatoes and spicy sausage. I mentally combined a list of other delicious food combinations, the origins of which are unknown to many, but enjoyed by millions worldwide. I thought I’d at least find a few “can’t live without” favorites. I soon realized each one is an integral part of our culinary world.
Just a few of the best food combinations are pasta, tomato sauce, and meatballs; grilled steak and baked potato; red beans, sausage, and rice; corn on the cob and butter; grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup; chicken and dumplings; shrimp and grits; buffalo chicken wings and blue cheese; pancakes and syrup and fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy.
Speaking of gravy, it’s inherently necessary in a number of dishes, not just fried chicken. Who can imagine country fried steak without thick onion gravy? Swiss steak requires a covering of mushroom gravy. Fried pork chops are fabulous with brown milk gravy. And there’s nothing wrong with dousing homemade biscuits with a sausage gravy. In fact, fat and calorie count aside, a lot of things are right with this picture.
As I ran my iconic food pairings list by a Northern friend, he casually mentioned I’d omitted one important combination from the list. Turns out, his favorite childhood dish, one he swears is a staple in northern kitchens, is pork chops and applesauce. I prefer my pork chops to be pan-fried, grilled, or baked in a bed of savory sliced potatoes. To humor him, I agreed to give the family recipe a try.
My skepticism was replaced with delight as I tasted the tender, moist chop with just a hint of apple flavor. It won’t replace biscuits and gravy as the number one food combination, but it’s now on my favorite food combos list.
Southern Kitchen Pork Chops and Applesauce
3 pounds pork chops (boneless if possible)
3 cups apple sauce
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 tablespoons dried minced onions
Salt and pepper to taste
Spray a large crockpot with non-stick cooking spray. Place half of the pork chops in the bottom and sprinkle with half of the ginger. Add salt and pepper to taste, then sprinkle half of the minced onions on top. Cover the pork chops with half of the applesauce and sprinkle half of the cinnamon on top.
Add another layer of pork chops and sprinkle the other half of the ground ginger, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and add other half of minced onions. Spread the other half of applesauce over the pork chops.
Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours. Serve over cooked shredded hash browns, rice, or pasta. Serves 6.