Pork Chops au Poivre, Mushroom Ragu, Wilted Baby Spinach and Creamy Polenta

Pork Chop au Poivre, Mushroom Ragu, Wilted Baby Spinach and Creamy Polenta

Quick, easy and delicious…unless you don’t dig on swine, there is no reason not to make this meal. I’ve been making this meal in different variations for years. I finally remembered to snap a photo (let’s not get into how bad of a photographer I am).

Can’t you just call it pork chops with pepper? I know but au Poivre sounds so much better. You could also season with Montreal Seasoning. The mushroom ragu is wonderful and if you “don’t dig on swine” or are a vegetarian you could totally make this meal without the pork. I wilted the greens in the same pan of the pork so they don’t really need any seasoning and I don’t have to clean two pans. Polenta (or grits as we call them in the south) are a perfect starch component that literally holds this meal together. Let me know what you think.

 

Ingredients

  • 2 thick cut pork chips (I prefer bone in)
  • Fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1 pound bunches of mushrooms (whatever kind you like, I just “baby bells”
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ cup Marsala
  • 2 cups low sodium chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon fresh Oregano, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh Thyme, chopped
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1 bunch fresh baby spinach
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • Polenta (or Grits)
  • Milk and water
  • Asiago cheese, grated
Directions

  1. In a large skillet over medium heat add a few tablespoons of olive oil and onions. Cook for a few minutes and add garlic. Continue cooking until onions are translucent. Add mushrooms and season to taste. Cook until mushrooms are tender. Add Marsala and cook another 2-3 minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated. Add chicken stock, reduce heat and simmer until reduced by half (about 30 minutes). Add heavy cream and fresh herbs, toss to combine.
  2. In the meantime, in a pot prepare potenta per instruction. Instead of all water I use a mixture of milk and water, about half and half. You could also use stock. When the potenta is cooked stir in the asiago and keep warm.
  3. As the ragu and polenta are cooking, season pork with plenty of pepper and some salt. Pre-heat oven to 425 F. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and add the pork. Sear both sides of the pork and place in the oven. Cook until desired doneness, I recomend not over cooking. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  4. In the same pan, add baby spinach and toss until wilted.
  5. As pictured above, I like to serve it so at some point you get a little of it all. I put the polenta on the bottom, the mushroom ragu, the wilted spinach and then the pork on top. Enjoy!
Pork Chops au Poivre, Mushroom Ragu, Wilted Baby Spinach and Creamy Polenta

Local Pork Chops Stuffed with Drunken Cranberries, Walnuts and Gorgonzola

stuffed pork chops with cranberry, walnut and gorgonzola

I found these massive local pork chops and had no choice. I wasn’t even feeling pork chops, I was thinking baked chicken wings. Thankfully my better half delicately suggested she wanted the pork. These turned out amazing. The stuffing was perfect. Tart, sweet, crunchy, savory, earthy yumminess is how I would describe. The salad supported to pork, and I avoided over doing it by leaving the gorgonzola and walnuts out of it. I would suggest serving this with a starch, we happen to have Jen’s grandmother’s twice baked potatoes but you could serve with rice, couscous, mashed potatoes or whatever. I also did create a pan jus with pan drippings, beef stock and some of the macerating liquid but the pork was so good I didn’t even use it.

I would recommend this recipe highly. I searched the web for a good stuffed pork chop recipe and didn’t find anything that looked unique and interested. This recipe is both.

 

Ingredients

  • 2 thick cut pork chops
  • Dried cranberries
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Red wine vinegar
  • Fresh oregano chopped
  • Italian bread crumbs
  • Walnuts chopped
  • Gorgonzola cheese crumbles
  • Whole grain mustard
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Arugula
  • Red onion thinly sliced
  • Cherry tomatoes halved or quartered
  • Lemon juice
Directions

  1. Place the cranberries in a bowl and pour 50/50 balsamic and red wine vinegar to cover. Let set for as long as you have. I let them set 3 hours, tossing occasionally.
  2. Using a paring knife (this would be very difficult without a nice paring knife) cut a slit in the side of the chop without the bone, approximately 1-2 inches. Wiggle the knife and cut a pocket as far as you can without cutting through. Set the pork chops aside for 10-15 minutes to remove the chill.
  3. Preheat oven at 400 degrees F. Heat a skillet over medium high heat.
  4. In a small bowl add macerated cranberries, oregano, bread crumbs, mustard, walnuts, gorgonzola, olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Mix to combine. Add some of the balsamic/red wine mixture.
  5. Stuff the pork with the stuffing, packing it tightly into the cavity. If need be, us tooth picks to secure the opening. Season the outside with salt and pepper, drizzle a little olive oil on each side.
  6. Sear each side including the stuffed side. Cook until golden brown then place in the oven. Cook until internal temperature next to the bone is approximately 140 degrees F (I go a little less than that). Once desired temperature is achieved, remove the chops from the pain, tent with a piece of tin foil and allow to rest for 5 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile, in a large bowl add a tablespoon of mustard, lemon juice, more of the reserved macerating liquid, salt and pepper and whisk to combine. Slowly drizzle olive oil and continue whisking to form vinaigrette. Add onions, tomatoes and toss. Add arugula on the top and toss right before serving.
Local Pork Chops Stuffed with Drunken Cranberries, Walnuts and Gorgonzola

Local Pork Chops, Creamy Grits and Quick Chow Chow

Local Pork Chops, Creamy Grits, Quick Chow Chow
One of my favorite things to do culinarily is to attempt to mimic a meal from a favorite restaurant. I try to make the same meal, with my twists. Maybe I add a little more of this or less of that. An example is a visit to The Lazy Goat (a favorite in downtown Greenville, SC) I had a brilliant lunch. Serrano Wrapped Halibut with Haricot Verts and Duck Fat Fries (best in the world…duck fat, enough said). This inspired me to make Prosciutto Wrapped Halibut with Haricot Verts and Baked Duck Fat Fries. I switched the prosciutto for the Serrano because I like it better and I baked the fries because I don’t have a fryer.

Earlier this year on a pilgrimage to Charleston, SC we visited a newly opened restaurant for dinner. Husk, a Sean Brock (admittedly one of my favorite chefs) restaurant, offers local southern inspired cuisine. As a matter of fact, none of the food served in the restaurant can come from north of the Mason-Dixon line (seriously). That night I had a Fudge Farms Pork Chop with Crispy Pig Ears, Bacon Braised Cabbage and Speckled Butterbean Chow Chow. Yes, I said with crispy pig ear. It was amazing, the pork chops were perfectly cooked, and the broad beans add a nice creamy balance against the sour and heat of the chow chow. Oh, and then there is the pig’s ear. I tell you, don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. It essentially tastes like bacon. I love when Chef’s use the whole animal, I think it respects the animal to discard as little as possible. I digress; the pig’s ear was crispy, smoky, sweet and salty. It really did finish the dish perfectly. On last thing, if you aren’t familiar with chow chow, it is a spicy southern relish that is usually used down here as a condiment.

So that was my inspiration for Pork Chops, Creamy Grits, Chow Chow and garnished with crispy turkey bacon. On a visit to Whole Foods, we just couldn’t decide what we wanted for dinner. Jen suggested that we hadn’t had pork chops in a while. They had the biggest chops I’d seen, fresh, local, organic, thick cut chops. I’d never made chow chow before. A quick Google search gave me some ideas, but I am WAY to impatient to wait 6 hours to 2 weeks as most recipes suggested. I decided on a “quick” chow chow instead. The creamy grits tied this dish up nicely. I could probably have found some fresh pig’s ears (I actually had a bag of smoked ones for my dogs) but…umm…I’ll leave that to the professionals. I usually would have used my go to Niman Ranch Applewood Smoked Bacon, but I’m embarrassed to say, I was fresh out. All I had was Jen’s turkey bacon. All in all, this meal was very nice.

The chow chow was amazing, crunchy, sour, salty and spicy. We still have some in the fridge, I imagine it will be all the better in a few more days. I have talked in previous posts (like making quick kimchee and quick pickles) about my impatience in the kitchen. I have an idea and I want to eat it that night, not in a week or heaven forbid TWO WEEKS. The chow chow is the same deal. Most traditional chow chow are pickled and set for weeks or longer. My answer to that is below. Also, my jalapenos weren’t quite ready for harvest so I substituted Srirachi (my favorite condiment). This gave it a little Asian twist, which we liked.

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 thick cut pork chops
  • Anson Mills Grits (you can use quick grits but NOT instant)
  • Niman Ranch Applewood Smoked Bacon
  • Half and half (milk or heavey cream)
  • 1/2 to 1 cup cheese (your favorite cheese that melts easy)
  • 1/2 head of savoy cabbage
  • 2-3 green tomatoes
  • 1 red bell pepper cubed
  • 1 small vidalia onion sliced thin
  • Vinegar (I used a mixture of red, white and cider)
  • 1-2 tablespoons sugar to taste
  • Sriracha to taste
  • Kosher salt
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
DIRECTIONS

  1. First we’ll make the chow chow. Heat a large pot over medium. Because this is the “quick” version, I put the green tomatoes into my food processor and pulsed them about 10 times. I wish I would have only pulsed 5-6 times; it would have left a few more visible chunks. Add a touch of olive oil and drop in the onions and bell pepper, mix for a minute. Add green tomato and juice from processor. Mix all together and add salt, vinegar, sugar, sriracha and bring to boil. Reduce to low and simmer until vegetables are cooked through but still have some crunch. At this point I just removed from heat and let sit until I was done making the other components. Traditionally you cool and put in the refrigerator. I was deliberately vague on the amounts for this recipe. Just add to your tastes, if you like more heat add more sriracha. If you like it sweeter, add more sugar.
  2. Pre-heat your oven to 420 degrees.
  3. If you have “real” grits, they may take up to 40 minutes to cook. If you have quick grits, that time will be more like 5-10. As for “instant” grits, it is just not right, don’t do it. 🙂 Prepare the grits per the pack, but I usually replace half of the water with half and half, heavy cream or milk. When the grits are done, add cheese and butter (if you like). Also, on this day, I poured the drippings from the pork chop pan in. That added most of the seasoning. Keep warm.
  4. For garnish I used turkey bacon brushed with molasses, but I just can’t recommend that to you all. Use smoked bacon. Put the bacon on a sheet pan and place in the oven. Cook until crispy.
  5. For the pork chops, season with salt and pepper and in a large oven proof pan sear both sides. Place in the oven until the chops reach the appropriate doneness. I think the rule is 145 degrees. I like them a little pink, I usually target 130-135 degrees and let the carry-over cooking, when removed from the oven, bring them to a safe temperature.
The “sauce” you see in the photo above is actually the pickling liquid from the chow chow. I was very pleased with my decision to serve the chow chow warm. While eating, the sauce mixed with the grits and was delicious. I like the vegetables being sour with good heat and still having some crunch. The chow chow was nice this way although not traditional. Let me know what you think.
Local Pork Chops, Creamy Grits and Quick Chow Chow

Pan Roasted Pork Chop, Braised Dandelion Greens, Ricotta Whipped Potatoes with Apple Jus

Pork Chop, Braised Dandelion Greens, Ricotta Whipped Potatoes with Apple JusI love pork chops. They are usually pretty cheap, they are easy to cook and they are delicious. Being from the south, I grew up with pork chops, collard greens and black eyed peas. The greens would be stewed all day and would smell like…well, like sulphur (I just edited what I really wanted to say). I would pour vinegar on the greens and hot sauce or ketchup on the black eyed peas (still do on New Years).

On a trip to Whole Foods they had some beautiful dandelion greens and the pork chops were on sale so I snagged them. Instead of the blacked peas I decided on whipped potatoes and I thought a nice sauce to pour over the whole mess would be on point. I came up with Pan Roasted Pork Chops, Braised Dandelion Greens, Ricotta Whipped Potatoes with an Apple Jus.

The pork chops are super easy with just salt and pepper. I personally would rather the pork be a little pink in the middle then dry. The dandelion greens are the most bitter green you can get (or at least the most bitter I’ve had). I tried to balance out the bitterness with all the other ingredients plus the braising process really cuts some of that bitterness. On the potatoes, when I got home from the store I realized I had no heavy cream which I would normally use with the whipped potatoes, so I used milk and ricotta cheese.

This meal turned out well. It was pretty easy, quick and very filling. The pork chop and dandelion greens were perfect and the potatoes were…OK. I think ricotta wouldn’t be my choice again but they were OK and I am glad I tried it.

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 Large bone in pork chops
  • 1 Large bunch of dandelion greens
  • Olive oil
  • 1/2 Onion (I used white, but whatever you like)
  • 3 Garlic clove, 1 minced, 2 peeled
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of crushed red pepper flake
  • 1/2 Cup apple juice
  • 1/2 Cup chicken stock
  • 1-2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2-3 Large Russet Potatoes
  • 1-2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2-4 Tablespoons ricotta cheese
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
DIRECTIONS

  1. Set pork out and let it come to room temperature.
  2. Fill a large pot with water and drop in two whole peeled garlic cloves. Peel and cut potatoes into quarter inch cubes. Place in the water and bring to a boil. Boil until potatoes are fork tender and drain water. At this point you can either remove the garlic or leave it in, I like to leave it in. I have a ricer that I pass my potatoes through in order to get them smooth but you could use a food mill, immersion blender, food processor or a regular blender. I really like my ricer, it makes the potatoes very smooth. If you don’t have any of those items you could use a potato masher or a fork and whisk.
  3. Set heat to low and pour in milk, ricotta cheese and butter. Mix together, season with salt and pepper to taste and keep warm. Before serving check to make sure the potatoes have not dried out. If need be, add more milk or stock.
  4. Meanwhile, heat a large pan with a tight fitting top over medium heat. Pour in olive oil and wait for it to ripple (I usually render out a couple strips of bacon and use that fat, but I was good here). Add onions and sauté until translucent. Add minced garlic and pepper flake and sauté for 30 seconds then add dandelion greens. Toss the greens until wilted and add 1/2 apple juice, 1/2 chicken stock and season with salt and pepper. Cover and let simmer until most of the liquid is gone, approximately 15-20 minutes. Add more liquid if need be. Turn greens occasionally. The last few minutes remove the top. Before serving, add a table spoon or two of apple cider vinegar.
  5. Season the pork with salt and pepper. Now you can if you prefer, you can cook at medium heat until it reaches appropriate doneness. I prefer to searer the meat on both sides and finish in the oven. For that my method, pre-heat oven to 400°. Heat a large pan to medium-high heat, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and searer both sides of the meat . Once the pork has a good searer place in the oven until it reaches doneness. The Food & Drug Administration recommends pork is done at 160°. I usually cook mine to 145° because I am a rebel.
  6. When the pork is done, remove from the pan and let rest. Put the hot pan back on the burner over medium-high heat. Add the remaining apple juice and apple cider vinegar and de-glaze the pan, scrapping all the little bits of tastiness from the bottom. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper to taste. I put extra pepper. Right before serving dump any juices that may have collected from the resting meat into the sauce.
Pan Roasted Pork Chop, Braised Dandelion Greens, Ricotta Whipped Potatoes with Apple Jus