Project Wonderful

Friday, October 25, 2013

Pan-Seared Pork Chops With Sauteed Collard Greens

Here's a great recipe for a fall evening. Classic pork chops served with sauteed collard greens.

To add some additional flavor and to help prevent things from sticking, we use small cubes of pork fat, called "Lardons." There's nothing fancy about this. I trim the fat off of a ham (leaving some of the meat attached), place the cubes in a bag and toss them in the freezer for future use. 

This recipe also uses some rendered bacon fat, which is the perfect thing to do with those drippings after cooking bacon. Naturally, this is not the healthiest of ingredients, but thankfully you aren't using a whole lot. For a pound of collard greens, you are using maybe 1 tablespoon of bacon fat and perhaps 1/8 of a cup of lardons. If you wanted to make this even healthier, you could substitute all of that with two tablespoons of olive oil, but you wouldn't get that great bacon flavor in the final mix, so your mileage may vary. 

The chops are seasoned with "essence," which is a recipe that I stole from Emeril Lagasse. The ingredients are listed below. I made a batch of this stuff a while ago and am still using it. If you don't have the time to make the essense, use your favorite seasoning you have on hand. (Mom used to always just use seasoned salt, which works just fine.) I also added a little dried rosemary just because I love cooking with rosemary.

2 pork tenderloin chops, bone on
1/8th cup of lardons
1 tbs bacon fat
1 bunch (about 1 lb) Collard Greens
1 green apple, sliced into thin chunks
1/2 onion, sliced or diced
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar
2 tsp of "essence"

Essence recipe:
2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme

First the prep work:

Wash the collards and trim the stems off (save them for the sautee). 
Then stack the greens together, roll them into a cigar shape and slice them into 1/4' strips. This is known as a Chiffonade
This allows the greens to cook evenly and in much less time than just chopping them randomly. 

Dice up the collard green stems, slice the apple into thin chunks, dice up 1/2 an onion and mince up 1 clove of garlic and have this ready to go. 

Now we're ready to get the fire going. 

Add the lardons and the bacon fat to a medium sized pan under low heat until they render out to a liquid.

Once that's done, turn the pan up to medium-high heat, lay the chops in and season with the essence or your favorite seasoning. 

You want to get a nice sear on both sides. These chops were fairly thin, so a minute or two is all you're going to need.

Once they're cooked, set the chops aside to rest.

Add the chopped apples, onions and collard green stems and saute them until they just start to cook. 

Once the mixture has cooked a little, add the vinegar to help deglaze the pan.

Deglazing helps to lift the browned bits that were cooked onto the pan while cooking the pork chops. Think of these as flavor pockets! Normally deglazing is done with wine, but in this recipe, apple cider vinegar does the trick. 

Add the minced garlic at this point.

Once things have started to simmer again, add the collards.

By this time, the house should begin to fill with the sensational smell of apple cider vinegar and garlic. Pure bliss, as far as I'm concerned.

Cook the collards till they have reduced somewhat, aprox 5 minutes, then add the chops back on top of the greens and cover, cooking for another 2-3 minutes. You're just warming the meat back up at this point and the cover keeps everything moist and delicious.

Then you're ready to serve. 


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