Food You Can Eat: Celebrity Sunday Matinee: Joan Crawford’s Pork Chops with Red Onions and Apple Rings

"No. You didn't eat your din-din so you'll have to wait 'til lunchtime."---Baby Jane Hudson, "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane"

Image NOT via Vogue but the © certainly is.

We’ve already run into Joan Crawford in FYCE. We made her Steak in a Roquefort-Mustard Sauce ( and left the oven door ajar which, we were informed by @brightersideoflife , you shouldn’t do if you have a gas oven.

Now let’s go back to 1965. This is not difficult for me, food-wise. It was a difficult time for Joan, though. Viewers of “Feud” know the story. She and Bette Davis appeared in “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane,” one of the strangest and most compelling movies ever filmed. Though Davis and Crawford loathed each other, both’s stars were ebbing. Crawford was given the script for “Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte,” another doozy of a film, by Robert Aldrich. She persuaded Davis to team up again, Aldrich produced and directed the thing (he did “Baby Jane” too), but Crawford was cast aside and was replaced by Olivia de Havilland, no stranger to feuds herself, who died last July at the age of 104

Still. There was tremendous interest in Joan Crawford and in 1965 she was profiled in “Vogue” by a woman named Ninette Lyon. I used the opening spread as my header image. Ninette ran a series in “Vogue” called “A Second Fame: Good Food.” The next time I’m sitting around in a group guzzling enjoying a glass of wine, if the topic of “Who from history would you most like to be?” comes up, I am going to say, without reservation, “Ninette Lyon.”

It is in Ninette’s feature that we learn that Joan was dressed in a pink muu-muu during the interview and handed over five recipes. I’ll give you three.

Pork Chops with Red Onions and Apple Rings for four to six

6 loin pork chops, one inch thick
¼ pound margarine or butter
2 large Italian red onions, sliced
1 cup flour
Lawry’s Seasoned Salt

Salt chops on both sides. Dip lightly in flour. Place chops in ¼ pound melted butter or margarine in skillet. Add sliced onions and cook till golden. When onions are cooked, place on top of chops. Brown chops on one side, then turn, replacing onions on the top side. Place chops in skillet in preheated 250° oven. Cover. Cook 15 minutes. Then reduce oven heat to 200° and bake for an additional 25 minutes. Top each chop with 2 fried apple rings (see next recipe).

There’s something wrong with this recipe. What you should do is put the 1/4 lb. of butter in the skillet, cook the onion until golden, and then either push them aside or remove them, add the chops, top with the onions, brown, flip, top, brown, and then into the oven. In “Vogue”’s defense, how probable is it that any of the dozen people who might have seen the copy before it went to print had ever cooked a meal themselves? Not high.

Fried Apple Rings

4 green apples
¼ pound margarine or butter
Lemon juice
Brown sugar

Core and slice apples into thick rings, but do not peel. Sprinkle with lemon juice. Heat margarine or butter in skillet. Fry apples first on one side, then the other, until brown but not mushy. This is a matter of a very few minutes. While frying, sprinkle top sides of apples with cinnamon, nutmeg, and brown sugar to taste. Keep warm until all are done.

That sounds like a winning combination! Notice all the butter though in both recipes. And imagine replacing with margarine…ewww.

And as a side, if you’re a real pork lover:

Spinach Salad for four to six

6 cups fresh, young spinach leaves
1 pound bacon
1 cup cider vinegar
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Wash the spinach and place in the refrigerator until crisp. Do not cut leaves. Fry the bacon; drain on stove on paper towels. Save a thin layer of grease in skillet, add 1 cup cider vinegar, warm a second, then pour, hot, on the spinach; season. Break the bacon in small bits and sprinkle on top of the salad. Serve while warm. This can also be made with shredded lettuce or, as in France, with young, tender dandelion greens.

So there you have it, everything you need for a delicious weeknight dinner compliments of Joan Crawford, defibrillator optional.



    • I bet you are correct. I have a feeling the further back you go the better the meat was, and the further forward you come the more hormone and forced-feeding and industrialization you encounter.

    • Here is a pretty funny “Lucy Show” episode in which Joan Crawford guest stars. In the beginning she offers Lucy and Viv some hospitality. From 1968—Joan Crawford was in her early 70s.


    • In this one there are six chops though, and the rings of the apple can’t be too thin, otherwise they’d liquify. Have you ever seen “Feud”? I like to think this is actually a recipe from Mamacita, Joan’s long-suffering maid/cook/shoulder to cry on and scream into.

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