I cut out the middle man, grocery stores I mean, by buying my produce directly from a company called Basket Case Organics. I love this company for a number of reasons...
One, they deliver a basket full to the brim with beautiful, organic produce to my front door.
Two, it is very competitively priced.
Three, it is a local company that I am happy to support.
Four, everything is seasonal and it forces me to cook outside my comfort zone.
Recently, one of the items included in my basket was red kale. For those of you who don't know what kale is, it is a very fibrous, bitter, green, leafy vegetable. What in the heck do you do with kale? Well, I wasn't sure exactly. So, like many great thinkers before me, my solution was to have few glasses of cava, followed by a few glasses of wine. Then, right on cue, it struck me! Saute the kale with butter and anchovy paste and stuff it in a pork chop, of course!
Kale-stuffed Pork Chops with Mashed Potatoes and Gravy
Makes enough for 2 servings
4 cups of uncooked kale
3 - 4 tablespoons of butter
1/4 teaspoon of anchovy paste
2 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup of shredded mozzarella
2 thick pork chops
4 medium sized potatoes
2 green onions
2 tablespoons of sour cream
1/4 cup of milk
1 cup of chicken stalk
4-5 tablespoons of flour
Salt and pepper to taste, on everything.
Begin with the kale. The first step is to remove the red/purple stem of the kale. Basically, this will not cook down, so it's best to remove it. Roughly chop the kale. Over medium-low heat in a large saute or fry pan begin to melt 3 tablespoons of butter. As it begins to melt, add the anchovy paste and mix butter and paste to blend. Immediately add the kale and a good pinch of salt. Give it a good toss to coat. Cover and let the sauteing begin. You will want to let the kale reduce to about a cup, stirring frequently. About 1 - 2 minutes before you are going to pull the kale from the heat, add another tablespoon of butter and the finely minced garlic.
Once the kale is done, in a large sauce pan bring salted water to a boil. Add the potatoes, diced, and cook until tender. When they potatoes are done, drain from the water and set aside until you are ready to mash them. Keep them covered so they stay hot, it makes for easier mashing.
Meanwhile, begin stuffing the pork chops. To make the stuffing, remove the kale from the pan mix with the mozzarella cheese in a small bowl and set to the side. Save the pan on the stove as you will use it later. Make a 2-3 inch cut in the side of each pork chop. The incision you create should not cut the pork chop completely in half, but rather create a little pocket with about a quarter inch of the pork chop intact on all sides except where the opening is. Turn the pork chops on their sides with the pocket facing up. Stuff them with the kale and mozzarella mixture. Secure the opening with toothpicks.
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Warm a tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat in the same saute pan you used for the kale. Sear the pork chops on each side for until nice and golden brown. Transfer the pork chops to a baking sheet and cook in the oven for 10 - 15 minutes or until cooked through.
While the pork chops are in the oven, finish the mashed potatoes and the gravy.
As promised, I learned how to make gravy using drippings (after my mom laughed at me when I created a make-shift carmelized onions and crimini mushroom gravy). So here it goes. Begin by warming the saute pan from the kale and pork chops over medium heat. When it gets toasty, add the chicken stalk while whisking to get all of the deliciousness off the bottom of the pan. Bring the mixture to a light boil. Once boiling, add one tablespoon of flour at a time every few minutes until the gravy reaches the desired consistency and thickness. Add salt and pepper to taste. Run the gravy through a strainer and into a bowl to remove any large bits. Set aside.
Make the potatoes by mashing them together with the finely chopped green onions and sour cream. Warm the milk and add a little bit at a time until you reach a desired constancy. Some people like chunkier mashed potatoes, and some like creamier mashed potatoes. It's all a matter of preference.
Assemble your plate with a pork chop, a hearty helping of mashed potatoes, and cover in gravy. Oh, don't you feel gourmet!
Obviously, since I had a few drinks in me, I didn't run out and buy my pork chops fresh. I pulled them out of the freezer. For tips on how to best defrost meat, see my blog entry Summer Meatloaf.
I love anchovy paste! People tend to think anchovy paste is gross, but they are relying on preconceived notions and are quite mistaken. When mixed with some butter, the paste provides a fantastic salty, savory quality you'll be hard pressed to find any other way. You can keep a tube on hand in the fridge for quite a while. I would suggest anchovy paste for any green veggie that you are not sure what to do with, like collard greens, chard, Brussels sprouts, etc.