Apple-Smoked Stuffed Pork Chops

Stuffed pork loin chops smoked over apple wood at 225° F.

Stuffed pork loin chops smoked over apple wood at 225° F.

Here’s a great way to add a new dimension to an old favorite – stuffed pork chops that are smoked over apple wood chips and then finished off with a rich, decadent gravy.  Incredible!


4 stuffed pork chops
2 cups apple juice
1 cup apple wood chips for smoking
1 peeled, cored and sliced apple
Meat tenderizer

For the Gravy:
1 can Campbell’s Cream of Chicken soup
10.5 oz. beef broth (enough to fill the soup can)
1 strip bacon, minced
1/2 small onion, fine chopped
Dash of Worchestershire sauce
Dash of Kitchen Bouquet seasoning
Dash of paprika; about 1/2 tsp.
Salt and Pepper to taste


Pierce the pork chops on each side (1/4″ spacing) with a pronged tenderizer or sharp knife. Work in the meat tenderizer and let stand in the fridge for two hours.

Prepare an outdoor smoker by placing 2 cups of apple juice in the water pan and preheat to 225° F.
Warm the chops to room temperature before smoking. Rub peanut oil on the grilling grate and place the four chops directly on the grate (uncovered) in the center of the smoker.

Smoke for 1 hour with one cup of apple chips. Keep the top vent almost shut.

While the meat is smoking, prepare your gravy.  Combine 1 can of Campbell’s Cream of Chicken soup and 1 can of beef broth in a saucepan. Whisk to incorporate.
Heat on low and stir occasionally. In a heavy fry pan, add the minced bacon and saute until slightly browned. Add the fine-chopped onion and heat until just lightly carmelized.
Add the sauteed onion and bacon to the saucepan with the drippings from the bacon. Add the worchestershire sauce, Kitchen Bouquet, salt, pepper and paprika to taste. Stir to ensure it doesn’t burn and keep the heat at an absolute minimum. Cover partially to keep warm.

After one hour, remove the chops from the smoker and place in a shallow baking dish (ensuring that the dish fits the maximum width of your smoker box, when closed.)
Pour the heated gravy over the top of the chops and wrap the baking dish tightly in aluminum foil. Braise in smoker for 1.5 hours covered with NO SMOKE. (Smoke will not penetrate the meat at this point, so it’s not needed.)
After 1.5 hours, turn the chops over and add the sliced apple to the top. Cover again with foil and heat for an additional 1.5 hours with no smoke.  Remove and serve. The chops should be fall-off-the-bone tender.
Keep the heat in your smoker at 225 °F for the duration of the cooking process.

Serve with your choice of potatoes or wide buttered egg noodles.

Serves 4
Total Cooking Time: 4 hours + prep

Note: The preparation method shown is for a 30″ Masterbuilt Smoker with internal probe. Every smoker is different, so make sure you experiment to find the method that works best for you. For this recipe I didn’t use the probe due to the long braise time. In my opinion, one hour of smoke is all that’s needed. You’ll quickly overpower your food if you add more.

Smoked pork chops eady for a slow braise with homemade gravy.

Ready for a slow braise with homemade gravy.

Beef Tips with Gravy

This easy-to-prepare meal is an excellent dish that is very economical to make. It’s a perfect example of great-tasting home cooking tailored for busy families that don’t have a lot of time to prepare gourmet meals.  I received the instructions for this recipe from my cousin. I have no idea where she got it from, but it’s been a family favorite for many years.



3 pounds cubed beef stew meat
2 10.75-oz. cans Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup
2 10.75-oz. cans Campbell’s beefy mushroom soup
1 package Lipton onion soup mix
1.5 cups of water



Mix everything together and bake covered at 300 degrees for 4 ~ 4-1/2 hours. You can also prepare it in a slow cooker on medium-low heat for 6-8 hours. The meat will be done when it easily shreds with two forks.  Serve over egg noodles, or shred and serve on buns with Provolone cheese and the gravy.

Serves 6

Slow Roasted Pork with Gravy

This is a simple, savory recipe that tastes fantastic considering the minimal ingredients devoted to its preparation. The pork roast can be made in a dutch oven or slow cooker. With mashed potatoes on the side, there’s nothing better on a cold winter night.


1 two-pound lean pork roast
1 can Campbell’s cream of chicken soup (with two cans hot water)
1 package Lipton Onion Soup Mix
2 tbs. fresh chopped chives
2 tbs. fresh chopped parsley
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. chicken base
Salt and pepper to taste
Butter for browning
1 tbs. corn starch and water slurry

Mashed potatoes and your choice of vegetable or salad


In a large, heavy 12″ cast-iron skillet, bring one tbs. of butter up to frying temperature and brown the roast lightly on all sides. Shut off the heat and set the roast aside. Preheat your oven to 240 degrees F.

In a five-quart cast-iron dutch oven, add the soup ingredients, water, spices and chicken base. Whisk to incorporate and then carefully add the browned roast. Cover tightly and cook for three hours, or until the meat is evenly done and starts to fall apart.

When the meat is done, remove from the pot and reserve on a cutting board. Let stand for five minutes and then slice into 1/4″ pieces.

Add the corn starch with one tbs. water in a small mixing bowl and mix to form a slurry. Add to the pot gravy and mix well.
Bring the gravy up to a low simmer and cook until thickened to your liking.

Add the pork back to the pot and serve with mashed potatoes.

Serves 4-6

Swedish Meatballs

Swedish Meatballs | Culinary Compost Recipes

This recipe is a hands-down favorite in my family. My grandmother was Swedish, and her recipe was very similar to this. The kids request it about once a month. The key to making this a success is browning the meatballs until they have a really great crust, AND creating a proper roux for the gravy. If you rush it, the gravy will be flat and taste of flour and sour cream. Patience and a good eye are key. The recipe is a fair amount of work, but definitely worth the effort. Leftovers keep wonderfully.




For the Meatballs—
1-1/2 to 2 lbs. lean ground chuck
1/2 cup chopped onion
3/4 cup dried bread crumbs
1 tbs. dried parsley
1-1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. Worchestershire sauce
1 egg, beaten
1/4 to 1/2 cup of milk
3 tbs. real butter
1 tbs. beef base

For the Sauce—
2-3 tbs. drippings from meatballs
1 stick salted butter
1/4 cup flour (plus an additional 2 tbs. if necessary)
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
3 cups water
3/4 cup sour cream
1/2 tbs. beef base
2 tsp. Kitchen Bouquet browning mix

3/4 package large egg noodles



Mix the meat ingredients well by hand in large mixing bowl. Pat out into medium sized meatballs. Brown well in a large, heavy cast-iron skillet, working in batches. Drain fat off and reserve. Place meatballs aside in Dutch oven, covered on low heat.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Reserve 2-3 tbs. of the meat drippings in the skillet and reduce the heat to medium-low. DO NOT burn the flour in the next step, or it will taste bitter. Add the butter until melted, then add the flour and mix well with a large flat spatula to form a paste. Keep mixing constantly, and increase heat to medium for about 10-15 minutes to form a golden roux as a base for the gravy. Add the paprika, salt, pepper, water, beef base. Bring the mix up to a simmer and add the sour cream. Add the Kitchen Bouquet while stirring constantly. Check the seasoning and add to the Dutch oven when gravy is the desired consistency. (I keep mine a bit thick as it seems to thin out after baking.)

Bake covered for 1 hour, stirring once at 1/2 hour.

Remove from oven, stir and let stand for five minutes. Serve over egg noodles.

If you are delayed and need more time, you can reduce the heat of the oven after one hour to 200 degrees or less, with the same fantastic results.

Serves 6.

Swedish Meatballs | Culinary Compost Recipes

Brown the meatballs by working in batches. Two pounds of ground chuck will yield about three pan’s worth of one-inch meatballs; roughly forty to forty-two. Note the nice browned crust, which really adds to the flavor of the gravy made in the next step.

Authentic Swedish Meatballs - preparing the roux for the gravy

Time and patience are needed to prepare a proper roux. The dark color comes from the browned flour and crusty bits left over from the meatballs and onion. The rendered fat is liquid gold, so make sure you save a few tablespoons for the gravy. Wait to season it until you prepare the gravy, so you can check and adjust the flavor.

Authentic Swedish Meatballs - preparing the gravy

Leave yourself about a half hour to prepare the gravy. It should be reduced slightly and have a velvety sheen.

Hamburgers in Gravy

This regional Wisconsin favorite has got to be a lakeshore Manitowoc/SheVegas thang, because I’ve never heard of it elsewhere. Try it at your next Superbowl party. If you need more burgers, just add more soup.


6-10 hamburger patties
1 can French Onion soup
1 or 2 cans Golden Mushroom soup
2 cans water
1 ginormous spanish onion, peeled and sliced in 3/8″ rings
butter for frying
1 tbs. dry beef flavored base
salt and pepper to taste
Hamburger buns
Sliced provolone cheese (optional)
1 can sliced mushrooms (optional)


In a large, heavy skillet (I prefer cast-iron) heat a pat of butter and place the burgers in pan. Lightly dust with salt and pepper. Flip and cook until browned — or as in my house — when the smoke alarm goes off.  The key here is getting the skillet to a nice medium-high heat to char the burgers, while leaving the inside moist. The crust on the burgers is what really adds to the taste of the gravy.

Remove burgers from skillet and transfer to covered slow cooker set at 300 degrees F.

Fry the onions in butter until caramelized. Add to slow cooker.

A small amount of fat drippings from the skillet adds to the flavor, but if you’re health conscious, it’s not needed.

Add the soup, water, mushrooms and beef base to the slow cooker and heat covered until you reach a good rolling boil, then turn the heat down until it just reaches a low simmer.
Cook covered for two to three hours. Carefully flip burgers once during this time.

Serve on buns with cheese. Top with onions and au jus gravy.
I like to provide each guest an individual small gravy dish so they can dip the sammich.

Chicken-Fried Steak with White Gravy

From most references, the history of this recipe originated somewhere in Texas during the Depression Era. Other accounts indicate that it came from German immigrants who settled in the Lone Star state around 1844-50; the recipe based on the Austrian/German classic, wiener schnitzel.

The first written reference to “chicken-fried steak” appeared around 1952. This is an entirely-Southern inspired dish which is very economical to prepare. Serve with mashed potatoes and grilled corn-on-the-cob. Enjoy!


1/3 cup vegetable oil or 1/2 stick real butter
2 lb. tenderized Angus cube or round steak
Meat tenderizer to coat steak
1 cup all-purpose flour for dredge (reserve 3 tbs. after for gravy)
1/4 cup corn starch
1 tsp. salt (or Lawry’s seasoned salt), to taste
1 tsp. fresh-ground black pepper
Dash of cayenne pepper, to taste
1 tsp. garlic powder
4 eggs, beaten
2 1/2 cups milk, warmed to room temperature
1 small onion, cut in rings
Dash of Worchestershire sauce


Put the flour, corn starch, garlic powder, salt cayenne and black pepper in a shallow dish reserved for dredging the meat. Mix well.

Beat the four eggs and place in another shallow dish large enough to coat each side of the steaks.

Round steak by nature is a slightly tougher cut of meat. Try to buy round steak that has been run through a tenderizer by your butcher. If this is not possible, you can use a meat mallet and pound each side. If the steaks are large, cut each in half. Sprinkle both sides with meat tenderizer and set aside on a plate and allow to warm up to room temperature.

Preheat a large 12″ cast-iron skillet (please, no other skillet will produce the same results with this recipe) to medium heat and lightly spray with non-stick cooking oil.

Dredge the steaks in flour, then the egg (ensuring that they are evenly coated) then back into the flour and place in the skillet with enough vegetable oil or butter to just coat the bottom surface. Increase heat to medium high and brown each side about 4-5 minutes. Work in batches, cooking two steaks at a time. Add more butter or oil if needed. Fry the sliced onion until lightly carmelized.

If the heat is too high, the batter will come off the steaks. Turning them only once will ensure the batter sticks.

When the steaks and onion are done, remove from skillet, reduce the heat to low and reserve the steaks on a baker’s rack over a cookie sheet placed in your oven at 200 degrees. Keep the onions covered in a small dish for serving.


In the same skillet, reserve three tbs. of the pan drippings. Add three tbs. of the reserved seasoned flour and three tbs of butter. Stir with a spatula until mixed. Slowly add the milk and a dash of worchestershire sauce.

Increase heat and bring gravy to a low simmer, stirring constantly with a wide spatula; breaking up any lumps and deglazing the skillet. Taste and correct the seasoning if necessary. When thickened, transfer the gravy to a serving dish.

When ready, spoon gravy over steak and mashed potatoes.

Serves 4-6.

NOTE: For more flavor, add 1 tbs. of rendered bacon fat to the pan when frying the steaks. It will create a richer gravy.