Snippets of my grandfather’s life are keeping me company these days, ever since last month’s Christmas letter. Tucked within the envelope was one of papa’s recipes — the same one I’ve shared below — with a note telling how he prepared this recipe both at home and in his restaurant kitchen.
I wish I knew more about papa’s early life, but all I have are a few facts, like how he was born in Tripoli, Greece in the late nineteenth century and how he was the oldest of seven children born to a professor and his wife. In the photo, he’s the man on the left in the back row. I also remember a story being told of how papa immigrated to the United States in the early part of the twentieth century to join other siblings already living in New England. He was a young man then, but I don’t know how young. Papa himself never knew his actual birth date. But whenever it was called for, like in completing a government form, he would specify it as New Year’s Day. He thought any ole’ day would do, one being as good as another.
This same line of thought did not apply to his grandchildren however. Eveyone knew I was papa’s favorite, although no one knew why. I was neither his first grandchild nor his last or even his first or last granddaughter. And to this day, I would bet good money that even papa didn’t know the reason. I was his favorite, just because I was.
When it comes to my own cooking, this simple recipe is one of my favorites. And I know the reasons why. Because it’s quick, easy and tasty. And because it’s part of who I am. It’s a piece of my family heritage, a gift from papa’s life to mine…and from mine to yours. No reason. Just because.
Papa’s Greek Pork Chops
Serves 4 comfortably Prep time – 30 Minutes
Ingredients: 8 thin boneless pork chops, 1 lemon, butter, olive oil, salt, pepper, dried thyme
Heat ¼ cup butter and ¼ cup olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Season chops with a sprinkling of salt, pepper & thyme on both sides. Sauté chops until golden brown – 5 to 7 minutes each side. Turn off heat. Squeeze fresh lemon juice from 1 lemon over chops and leave in the pan to season pan juices. Cover until ready to serve.