Tomato Braised Pork Chops with Garlic Sauteed Greens

Tomato Braised Pork Chops with Garlic Sauteed Greens (Serves 4)

Many people can tell heart-warming stories of learning to cook treasured family recipes from their mother or grandmother, but not me. My mother thought boys were good only for washing dishes and she didn’t want me near the stove. She didn’t teach my sisters to cook either and that was okay with them, but I have been attracted to cooking since I was a small boy. I got permission to experiment in the kitchen as a boy a few times. I made peanut butter and jelly pan cakes once that I thought were pretty good. And on Saint Patrick’s Day one year I made tuna salad and dyed it green with food coloring. My mother made me eat all that tuna salad myself because she thought it looked terrible, but I didn’t mind because it was pretty good.

I taught myself to cook. Back in the day I bought a copy of the American Heart Association Cookbook and decided to cook my way from cover to cover. I only made it to page 40 or 50 before losing interest, but following the cookbook introduced me to lots of new things. I didn’t know how to read a cookbook, so I made some big mistakes following directions. For example, one day I added two bulbs of garlic to Minestrone Soup. The recipe called for three cloves of garlic, but I did not realize that a clove was the little sliver of garlic within a bulb and I got busy pressing dozens and dozens of garlic cloves into my soup. My hands were exhausted after processing two bulbs worth and I decided that I would add the third bulb later if I thought the soup needed more garlic. Needless to say, my “garlic” soup was too strong to eat. To fix it, I added a can of tomato puree that absorbed some of the garlic flavor. That adventure taught me that you can fix almost any problem in the kitchen by adding tomatoes.

The use of tomatoes in today’s Tomato Braised Pork Chops was part of the original design and not a rescue operation. I learned to make it in a cooking class – The Foods of Emilia-Romagna – at Whole Foods Market in Alpharetta. My recipe varies a bit from the one Chef Samantha Enzmann shared in class. My approach is a little easier to execute, but they are both pretty good.

Prep and cook time: 80-90 minutes

Ingredients:

4 pork chops, 3/4 to 1 inch thick
1 28-ounce can of tomato puree
3-4 big bunches of greens
Apple cider vinegar
Extra virgin olive oil
Clarified butter
Coconut flour
Rubbed sage
Black pepper
Salt

Directions: Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Melt 2 tablespoons of clarified butter in a large saute pan over medium high heat. Add a tablespoon of olive oil. Season pork chops with salt, rubbed sage, and black pepper on both sides. Spread 3 or 4 tablespoons of coconut flour on a plate. Turn the chops on both sides in the flour, shake off the excess, and slip them into the hot pan. Sear the chops 4 to 5 minutes on each side until they display a rich, golden-brown color. When done, add another dusting of salt, sage, and black pepper and cover the chops with the tomato puree. Cover and put the saute pan in the oven to bake at 200 degrees for one hour. About 15 to 20 minutes before the chops are finished baking, pour a tablespoon or two of olive oil in the bottom of a large skillet over medium heat. Wait for oil to get hot and then add greens. Use a wooden spatula to turn the greens to speed the wilting process. Season with a dusting of salt and garlic powder. Splash greens with apple cider vinegar. Greens wilt to no more than 10 percent of their fresh volume, so it takes a big mixing bowl full of fresh greens to create enough to fill a plate with wilted greens. Repeat wilting process as needed to cook the desired volume of greens. When done, pair a pork chop and a serving of greens on a plate. Enjoy!

Notes: Dropping wet greens in a hot skillet makes hot oil jump and spit, so be careful. I found dropping enough to fill the skillet all at once helped because the greens themselves then functioned as a splatter screen.

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