Kasseler Rippchen

An easy-to-prepare pork chop casserole from Germany, Kasseler Rippchen (kah-sell-ah rip-shen) traditionally served on a bed of sauerkraut with mashed or boiled potatoes. It is a marvellously warming dish to serve on a winter evening. If you cannot obtain smoked or cured pork chops, ordinary pork chops may be used.

½ tablespoons butter

2 medium-sized onions, chopped

2 medium-sized carrots, scraped and sliced

2 large tomatoes, blanched, peeled, seeded and chopped

6 large smoked pork chops

3 juniper berries, crushed

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

15 fl. oz. cold water

2 teaspoons cornflour mixed to a paste with 1 tablespoon water 8 fl. oz. sour cream

Preheat the oven to fairly hot 375 °F (Gas Mark 5, 190°C).

In a large flameproof casserole, melt the butter over moderate heat. When the foam subsides, add the onions and carrots.

Cook them, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the onions are soft and translucent but not brown. Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring occasion-ally, for 3 minutes.

Remove the casserole from the heat. Place the pork chops on top of the vegetables in the casserole. Sprinkle the chops with the crushed juniper berries, salt and pepper and pour in the water.

Tightly cover the casserole and place it in the centre of the oven. Bake for 30 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to moderate 350°F (Gas Mark 4, 180°C) and remove the lid from the casserole. Continue baking the pork chops for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the chops are thoroughly cooked and browned.

Remove the casserole from the oven and, using tongs, transfer the chops to a heated serving dish, arranging them so they slightly overlap down the centre of the dish. Keep the chops warm while you make the sauce.

Strain the vegetables and liquid in the casserole into a medium-sized saucepan, pushing down on the vegetables with the back of a spoon to extract all the juices. Discard the vegetables remaining in the strainer.

Place the saucepan over moderate heat and bring the liquid to the boil, stirring constantly. Mix in the cornflour mixture and continue cooking and stirring for 6 minutes, or until the sauce is thick and smooth. Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the sour cream.

Pour the sauce over the chops, or serve the sauce separately in a sauceboat. Serve immediately.