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Inever can make decent gravy. Perhaps it's a problem of technique, but I suspect the culprit is lack of time and patience. One night, in a flash of frustration, I invented Automatic Gravy.

At our house, this became a celebrated miracle. Here's how it happened:

Knowing well how my family craves rice and gravy, I looked at the lovely brown bits left in my pan after frying plump pork chops. I looked at my pot of plain rice. What would happen if I just dumped the two together?

What happened was that the brown bits from the bottom of the pan gave the rice a slightly brown, warm burnish, similar to the effect you achieve with rice pilaf cooked in beef broth. It's a light flavor -- not quite gravy, but close enough considering this technique requires virtually no work and absolutely no skill.

Just toss the rice around in the pan until it absorbs all of the remaining meat essence. This technique works equally well with any meat you happen to be pan-frying -- pork chops, beef steaks of any sort, hamburger patties and even boneless, skinless chicken breasts. The more meat you cook, the richer the rice and "gravy" will be.


Pan-Fried Pork Chops

Rice and Automatic Gravy

Steamed broccoli spears

Frozen prepared biscuits


1tablespoon vegetable oil

4boneless pork loin chops, cut about 1/4 -inch thick (about 3/4 of a pound)

Salt and black pepper to taste

3cups already-cooked rice

1/3 cup water

2teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
Heat the oil on medium in a 12-inch, non-stick skillet. Salt and pepper the chops to taste. Fry the chops 5 minutes on each side or until golden brown outside and just barely pink in the center. (Do not over-cook.) When the chops are done, remove them to a serving platter.

Add the rice, water and Worcestershire sauce. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring often by using a tossing motion until the rice is golden brown and has absorbed the meat essence left in the pan. Season the rice with salt and black pepper to taste. In the final 2 minutes of cooking, pour any juices that have accumulated on the platter back into the skillet and stir until absorbed. Mound the rice in the middle of the platter and serve at once. Makes 4 servings.

Approximate values per serving (using Nutritionist IV software): 357 calories (28 percent from fat), 11 grams fat (3 grams saturated), 70 milligrams cholesterol, 29 grams protein, 34 grams carbohydrates, 77 milligrams sodium.

Cook's notes: This recipe works best with a firm rice, such as converted, 20-minute rice.

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Send us desperate tales of woe or everyday success stories and your favorite quick recipes to Desperation Dinners, 2212 The Circle, Raleigh, N.C. 27608, or e-mail:

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