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Cooking in Cast Iron: Pork Chops with Cabbage and Sweet Potatoes

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Skillet suppers, one-pot meals, sheet pan suppers — I’m sure you hear these terms all the time. They’re popular not only for their simplicity but also, of course, the easy cleanup. But choosing the right cooking vessel is key.

As a professional cook, I have a wall of cookware: hand-hammered copper I brought home from France; enamel-coated ovens; high-tech, stainless steel sauté pans; highly designed modern skillets that look more like works of art, and even thin aluminum stockpots for boiling water. Different cookware is needed for different reasons. (Indeed, if I am a guest in a fancy, designer kitchen, and there’s a rack with a shrine of all matching pots, I know that person doesn’t actually cook!)

Still, I’ve got to admit even that with all of my expensive professional cookware, the pan I reach for the most is — without hesitation — my grandmother’s cast-iron skillet.

Cast Iron Cooking

I am now the proud owner of that skillet and calculate that it very well may be 100 years old. To say it’s well seasoned is an understatement. It’s black and shiny like satin, and water beads on it when I wash it, the result of absorbing so much oil through the decades. I know it sounds cliché, but it’s true. This cast iron skillet is hands-down, my absolute most precious possession.

Cast iron gets better the more you use it, because cooking seasons the skillet, giving it a slick surface. In fact, if well-seasoned, you can even use a cast-iron pan to cook delicate dishes like sunnyside-up eggs. Perhaps the very best quality of a cast-iron skillet is its versatility. They can be used for everything from roasting a whole chicken to baking a cake or cobbler, and vegetable cooking, making cast iron a great fit for folks with limited storage. You can see why these pans are treasures passed down from generation to generation.

What is Seasoned Cast Iron?

Not only does cast iron carry valuable memories, but it is also the perfect vehicle for making this one-dish supper sing, along with just about any other kitchen task you can throw at it. It’s slow to heat up, but once it does, it stays hotter longer. When properly seasoned over time, cast iron takes on nonstick properties, which only improve with use.

But let’s back up for a second: What is seasoning, anyway? Here, I’m not talking about salt and pepper. Cast iron seasoning refers to both the initial finish of the cookware as well as the ongoing process of maintaining that finish. It’s not just a thin layer of oil, it’s an oil that’s been baked onto the iron to form a thin, polymerized layer, which prevents rust and provides an easy-release finish that continues to improve with use. Most cast iron skillets these days come pre-seasoned, but they’re still bettered by regular seasoning in your kitchen.

How to Clean Cast Iron

Some folks say not to wash your cast iron pans with detergent, but my grandmother did and so do I. I can’t imagine not cleaning a skillet! Good grief. (I do, however, avoid metal scouring pads, which can remove the layers of seasoning and expose the metal.) After cooking, I carefully wash it in warm soapy water and dry it thoroughly, and then I return it to the oven for keeping. This procedure is as much kitchen housekeeping as sacred ritual.

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How to Season Cast Iron

If your pan needs extra loving because you’ve damaged its seasoning, or you’ve found one at a garage sale that needs to be reinitiated into the kitchen, you can re-season it by scrubbing it clean and applying a film of oil all over the pan’s interior and exterior, then placing it in a 350°F  oven with a rimmed baking sheet pan underneath to catch drips. Let it “bake” for one hour, and then cool the pan completely in the oven. Before storing, make sure it is completely dry to prevent rust. (I store my cast iron skillet in my oven between use.)

One last thing, if you prefer boneless pork or pork tenderloin, give my Pork Tenderloin with Apples and Onions a try! Thanks so much for reading.

Bon Appétit, Y’all

Virginia Willis


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Print Recipe
4.50 from 2 votes

Skillet Pork Chops with Cabbage and Sweet Potatoes

Yes, I know brining does fly in the face of the idea of a 30-minute meal. You can certainly skip it OR you could brine the chops the minute you walk in the door and let them marinate during the news or while you sip on something.
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
brine time30 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Southern
Keyword: one pot, pork chop, skillet supper
Servings: 2
Calories: 784kcal


  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1/3 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • Coarse kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cups ice cubes
  • 2 bone-in pork loin chops 3/4 to 1 pound total
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 sweet onion sliced
  • 1/2 green cabbage cored and thinly sliced
  • 1 sweet potato peeled and diced
  • 2 to 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf preferably fresh
  • Dijon mustard for serving


  • In a medium heatproof bowl, whisk together the boiling water, brown sugar and 2 tablespoons salt until sugar and salt are dissolved. Stir in the ice cubes to cool the brine. Add the pork chops, the cover bowl with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Remove the chops from the brine, rinse well, and dry thoroughly with paper towels. (If you’re really in a hurry you can skip the brining step, but I find it does make a difference for ultra moist and tender pork chops.)
  • Heat the oven to 350°F. In a 10-inch cast iron skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. When the oil is shimmering, add the pork chops and sear until well browned, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and cover to keep warm.
  • To the same skillet, add the butter, followed by the onion, cabbage, sweet potato, thyme, and bay leaf. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the cabbage and onions are wilted and caramelized, about 5 minutes.
  • Place the seared pork chops on top of the vegetables. Transfer to the oven and bake until the pork chops are cooked and the internal temperature registers 145°F when measured with an instant-read thermometer, 8 to 10 minutes.
  • Transfer the pork chops to serving plates. Taste the vegetables and adjust the seasoning as needed with salt and pepper. Stir to make sure all of the vegetables are coated with the buttery cooking liquid. Divide the vegetables between the plates and serve immediately with mustard, if desired.


Serving: 2 | Calories: 784kcal | Carbohydrates: 85g | Protein: 55g | Fat: 26g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 0.3g | Cholesterol: 159mg | Sodium: 324mg | Potassium: 1866mg | Fiber: 11g | Sugar: 56g | Vitamin A: 16403IU | Vitamin C: 95mg | Calcium: 227mg | Iron: 4mg


Please note that this post may contain affiliate links. (That means I make a commission if you use my affiliate link to buy the product.) 

If you are interested in hosting me for a speaking engagement, event, cooking class, or a book signing, let me know! Send an email to jona@virginiawillis.comand we’ll be back in touch as soon as possible.

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Virginia Willis

Georgia-born French-trained chef Virginia Willis has foraged for berries in the Alaskan wilderness, harvested capers in the shadow of a smoldering volcano in Sicily, and executed the food styling for a Super Bowl commercial seen by over 160 million people. Virginia is a Beard award-winning cookbook author, chef, content creator, and motivational speaker. She has lost 65# and kept it off for more than 3 years. Because of her own health journey, she is a cheerleader for others seeking to make lifestyle changes to feel healthier and happier. Her experience inspired her to launch “Good and Good for You” a lifestyle brand rooted in culinary that shares health and wellness content through digital channels; public speaking; and print media. Fans love her approachable spirit and friendly down-to-earth style. For more information visit

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