To say I’m not much of a morning person, is a bit like saying rain is wet. See, I’m a night owl. I’ll either stay up reading, watching some silly TV program or playing “Words with Friends.” It takes me a long time to settle in from the day, but once I do, it’s lights out. And because of that, I don’t like to rise with the chickens. I don’t even like to rise with the rest of the world. I take my own sweet time, stretching and groaning, creakin’ and complaining until my hair and makeup team practically drags me outta bed so they have enough time to make this ol’ bird something spectacular—or at least something passable. And y’all, lemme tell you, this process takes longer and longer with each passing year.
But once in a blue moon I have a morning free from appointments—a morning when me and my hair get some much needed time off. Usually I’ll take advantage and sleep half the day away trying to recharge my batteries, but other times I get a wild hair to jump out of bed and whip up a wonderful breakfast just for Michael and me.
Breakfast is one of my favorite meals to cook, but it’s also the one that I don’t get to enjoy very often because I’m always hurrying here and there. Even an egg on toast has become a bit of a luxury. So with some extra time on my hands and a house free from the “glam squad,” I like to prepare something special.
The perfect Southern breakfast calls for the “3 G’s”: grits, gravy and gusto. The creamy grits are a Southern staple and can be topped with just about anything, including butter, salt, cheese, bacon or gravy. The gravy I make is a real show stopper. It’s a true milk gravy that is just so delicious. But any breakfast worth its beans must have a meat as its main event. I just love country-fried pork. I start off by beatin’ the hell out of it to get the best flavor (that’s where the “gusto” comes in). Then, to maximize taste, I season the meat before dredging it in flour. I heat up a little vegetable oil in the pan and I sear those cuts until they’re golden brown. Between the smell and sizzle, it doesn’t take long for Michael to come running. You’ve never seen a man so eager to set a table!
I round out the breakfast with some fresh fruit, biscuits and jam, and some sparkling water to wash it all down. Michael and I eat slowly, appreciating the flavors and the sacred time together. By the last bite, we’re as full as a tick on a dog. Those quiet mornings are few and far between, and that’s certainly a big part of what makes them so special. But even I can’t deny the magic of a truly Southern, savory breakfast.
Country Fried Pork Cutlet with Cream Gravy
1 (3/4 pound) pork tenderloin, sliced into 4 (½ inch) thick pieces on the diagonal
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¾ cup buttermilk
½ all purpose flour
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 – 1 ¼ cup whole milk
¼ cup water
Use a meat mallet to evenly pound out the pork to a ¼ inch thickness. Season both sides with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Add buttermilk to a baking dish. Add flour to a separate baking dish and lightly season with salt and pepper.
Heat the oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Add the pork and cook, until nice and golden brown, about 3-4 minutes per side. Remove to a paper towel lined plate.
Add the flour (you should have about ¼ cup remaining after dredging) to the skillet and whisk until smooth and bubbly, about 1 minute. Add the warm milk and water slowly and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a low simmer and stir, until thickened, about 5 minutes, adding milk as necessary to control the thickness. Season the gravy with salt and lots of black pepper. Plate the pork over grits and biscuits. Spoon the gravy over the pork and serve immediately.
Serves 2 (generously!)