Another simple and utterly tasty recipe from Nigel Slater’s The Kitchen Diaries, I was drawn to these chops first by one word: cornichons. The petite sour French pickles popularly served alongside pate, I have a thing for cornichons. The kind of thing where I can eat an entire jar in one sitting, no pate necessary. Something with the acid and the salt and the crunch is plainly addictive. Though they drew me in, cornichons are merely a supporting character here, and I’ll tell you a little secret: dill pickles work just as well in a pinch. The star players are seared pork chops, the pan de-glazed with a glass of white wine (the actual measurement called for by Mr. Slater, and another reason I love him), then in goes a couple of hearty scoops of whatever mustard’s kicking around your fridge, and finish off with a dash of cream and those cornichons. One pan + 15 minutes tops = dinner on the table.
The key here is to serve the chops alongside something that will mop up all that mustardy goodness. We went with a plate of sautéed collard greens which John threw together in about the time it took me to do the pork. These are collards done right, and the perfect sauce soaking medium – I included the recipe below. Other thoughts: roasted or mashed potatoes, spatzel, kale, cauliflower puree, or roasted broccoli spears.
Both recipes here serve 2 and can easily be doubled or tripled.
For the Chops
2 good quality boneless pork chops (I used duBreton chops from Quebec – look for chops with a nice rim of fat.)
2 tbsp olive oil
2 smashed garlic cloves
A glass of white wine
1 heaping tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 heaping tbsp whole grain mustard
1/3 cup heavy cream
5-6 chopped cornichons or 2 chopped dill pickles
Salt and pepper to taste
Trim a bit of the excess fat around the chops, leaving at least a ¼ inch all the way around. Chop the trimmed fat into small pieces (¼ inch by ¼ inch or so) and reserved for the collards. Season the chops on both sides with salt and pepper.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil and the smashed garlic. Once hot, place the chops in the pan and sear 2-3 minutes until golden. Flip the chops, reduce the heat a bit, and continue cooking an additional 3-4 minutes until cooked through. (The time will very depending on the thickness of the meat – keep in mind that the chops will continue to cook somewhat after they come off the heat to rest.) Remove the chops from the pan and set aside on a warm plate.
Add the wine to the pan and stir vigorously to pick up any caramelized bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Using a slotted spoon, remove the smashed garlic cloves and discard. Reduce the heat further and stir in the mustard. Mix well, then add the cream and the cornichons, taste for seasoning, and adjust as needed. (You won’t need much salt because of the saltiness of the mustard and the cornichons.) Pour the sauce over the chops and serve everything over the collards (see below.)
For the Collards
reserved pork fat
1 bunch collard greens, washed and chopped, tough stems removed
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tbsp cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
salt and pepper to taste
Set a large skillet over medium heat and pour in the olive oil. Once hot, add the reserved pork fat and sautee until crispy and golden. Remove to a plate lined with paper towel to drain. Add the collards to the hot pan and sautee 1-2 minutes until wilted, then add the soy sauce, the red pepper flakes, the vinegar, and the water. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook 10-15 minutes until tender but still with some bite. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed. Serve at once.