Pork Loin Chops with Collard Greens (Serves 2)
I worked in the produce department of the Jitney Jungle grocery store when I was a boy in Pensacola, Florida. The store bought collard greens from farmers in pickup trucks and resold them in big bunches to eager customers, but not to my mom. She was a Yankee, and I don’t remember ever eating collard greens at home. I’m sure I ate them somewhere growing up in the South, but never thought of cooking collard greens until this past week. Then two things happened to bring collard greens to my kitchen. First, the nutrition evangelists at the Whole Nine blog published a nifty seasonal produce guide (http://whole9life.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/whole9-produce-guide.pdf) that listed collard greens as “extra-nutritious” and in season now (winter in the US). Second, a reader in Germany asked if I would publish a collard greens recipe for followers of the Whole30 diet. I rushed to the store to buy two big bunches of collard greens. I am happy to report that my first time cooking collards was a success.
Collard greens are traditionally cooked with pork, ham, or bacon in the South. I used the remains from pan-fried pork chops to flavor mine.
Prep and Cook Time: 30 minutes
2 pork loin chops (nice thick ones)
2 bunches of collard greens (20 stems)
Extra virgin olive oil
Red chili powder
Fill a large stock pot with water and bring to a boil. Add a tablespoon or two of salt. Rinse collard greens repeatedly. Strip leaf from stems. Discard stems. Add collard greens to boiling water. Add a tablespoon or two of olive oil to boiling water. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes.
Add olive oil to a large skillet or sauté pan over medium heat. Season both sides of pork chops with salt, garlic powder, sage, and rosemary. Add a little black pepper and a pinch of red chili powder to taste. Lay meat in the pan and let it sear undisturbed for 5 minutes on the first side. Turn and sear the other side, letting it sizzle another 5 minutes. Just to be sure my meat was well-cooked; I seared each side an extra minute for a total of 12-13 minutes of cooking time.
Remove meat from pan and let it rest on a plate. Remove collard greens from stock pot by pouring contents into a colander in the sink. Use a big spoon to press remaining liquid from collards in the colander. Transfer collard greens to the pan where you cooked pork chops. Add more olive oil if needed. Add a little garlic powder and black pepper to taste. The salt water the collards boiled in should have the greens salty enough, but taste and add a little salt if needed.
Transfer pork chops and collards to plates and eat!
Recipes I consulted before coming up with my approach listed cook times ranging from 10 minutes to 3 hours. I ate a bite of collard greens raw and found it palatable, so attempted a shorter cooking time that worked nicely. Adding oil to the boiling water in the last 30 minutes of a 2 hour boil was emphasized in one recipe. I thought the oil might help with flavor, so added it at the beginning of a 15 minute boil.
I talked with my mother and learned that she started cooking collard greens after I left home. My father kept bringing them home from Uncle Bill’s garden. She cooked hers in beef stock in a pressure cooker. I will try flavoring collard greens with beef or chicken stock in the future.
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