Happy Accident Pork Chops

Remember this story?

One day a husband and wife were preparing Christmas dinner together. The man watched his wife cut the end off the ham, creating a flat spot on one side, before placing it in a large baking dish and then into the oven.
Curious, he asked, “Honey, why do you always cut the end off the ham like that before you cook it?
She replied, “Well, that’s the way my mother always did it.”
“OK, but why did your mother do it?”
“I don’t know. I never asked. We can ask her when she comes over.”
When the mother arrived for Christmas dinner, they asked her together, “You know how every time you cook a ham, you cut the end off of it so it’s flat on one side – why do you do it that way?”
The mother thought for a moment, and finally, replied, “Hmmm. I guess I never thought about it, but that’s the way my mother always did it, so I do it too.”
One day, the young couple went to visit Grandma and they asked her, “Mom says whenever you cook a ham you cut one of the ends off, but she couldn’t tell us why. Why do you do that, Grandma?”
Grandma smiled, “Well, you see, sweetheart, one day Grandma dropped her large baking dish and broke it. The ham didn’t fit into the smaller dish, so I cut the end off of it so it would fit. I never got around to getting a new large baking dish, so I always had to cut the end off the ham.

I have a recipe similar to that in my collection; it’s these pork chops. My mom found this recipe on an occasion when she didn’t have all the ingredients. The original recipe called for a lemon slice in addition to the other toppings for the meat. She didn’t have a lemon on hand, so she went ahead and omitted it, and she liked the final product so much that she never went back.

I learned the recipe my mom’s way, and then as a result of another shortage, I made my own (small) amendment.

So as a result of two happy accidents, we have one of my favorite cold-weather meals, and one of my husband’s favorite meals, year round. We had these last night for dinner, and the kids gobbled them up…there were no leftovers from six chops (two of them quite large!).

I must apologize in advance for the lack of specificity in this recipe — I do it entirely by sight with no measurements. But it really is that easy!


  • Pork chops, enough to feed your family (I prefer thin-cut ones for this recipe)
  • One medium yellow onion, diced* (smaller for
  • Brown sugar
  • Ketchup

Preheat oven to 350. Arrange pork chops in a single layer in a 9×13 baking dish. Sprinkle onion pieces evenly over meat. Using about one tablespoon of brown sugar per chop, sprinkle sugar over meat and onions. Pour ketchup over everything, using a light hand (you don’t want to drown the meat…some should still be visible). Cover with foil and bake for about 40 minutes. Uncover and continue baking about 20 minutes or until done.

*this is my amendment. Mom always sliced the onions in rings. I didn’t have a big enough onion one night, so I chopped up the one I had and tried to spread it thinly. As I was cleaning up after dinner, I noticed that the kids had actually eaten the onions rather than leaving them on their plates like they usually did.

Mom always made these with baked potatoes (you can cook them alongside the meat in the oven). I made mashed potatoes last night as a special treat. My children would eat mashed potatoes every day all day if they could.

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