The plan was to braise a pile of leafy, chartreuse-colored mustard greens using a Deborah Madison recipe, which calls for chopped onion, ginger, paprika, cumin, cilantro, and a handful of rice.* We’d crack open a couple of cold beers, eat the mustard greens alongside leftover black beans, and that would be dinner. But the greens stew for 45 minutes, plenty of time to agonize over whether they’ll turn out tasting weird, and with 40 minutes to go, I hauled a package of pork chops out of the freezer in case we needed the additional sustenance.

By the time the chops were thawed, the greens were looking considerably more edible but still had a strong mustardy hint. This seemed reason enough to pair them with pan-fried pork chops. I dried off the chops, which were a rich pink-brown color, bone in, a half-inch thick. They browned nicely in a cast iron pan and were more tender cooked than just about any commercial pork chop I’ve eaten, except perhaps brined. The combination of pork and mustard was spot-on, and the rewarmed black beans provided a hearty counterpoint.

Pan-Fried Pork Chops with Sage and Mustard

2 slices bacon / 2 pork chops / one-half onion, sliced thinly / ¼ cup chopped sage / 1 tsp dijon mustard / 1 cup stock / salt & pepper

Coat both sides of the chops with salt and pepper. Crisp the bacon over medium-high heat, then remove and slice thinly. Pour off bacon grease, leaving enough behind to coat pan. Reheat pan, brown chops about 2 minutes per side, then remove. Saute onions and sage for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add stock and mustard and mix to combine, reduce heat to low, then add chops and bacon pieces and cover, cooking until pork is just cooked, about 3-5 minutes. Remove meat to serving plates and reduce sauce on high heat until thickened. Serves 2. Adapted from Jerry Traunfeld.

*Look for specifics on mustard greens in Deborah Madison’s Local Flavors cookbook.

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