I never met a pork chop I didn’t like. Ok, if you’ve spent any time at my Acadiana Table you know I love pork chops, and the simpler the better. This weekend, Roxanne decided to make my favorite pork chops and mashed potatoes for dinner, and I decided to join in and help her develop a new recipe that is simple, yet elevates the tastes in directions that are both soul satisfying and elegant.
With several of local farmer Charles Thompson’s pork chops — from heritage breed hogs — thawing out in a briny bath of salt, apple cider and water, I decided to turn my attention to the crowning glory of this dish – mashed potatoes and gravy. I have a standard technique for perfect mashed potatoes that I will never deviate from. I am a staunch believer in boiling my Idaho russets in salted water until just tender, not waterlogged. Ricing potatoes in a handheld ricer is the best way to get consistency and to achieve a soft, smooth texture that creates the perfect pillowy platform for the ultimate quest – gravy.
For most, gravy is a byproduct, but to me it is the crowning glory of most any dish. Without a good gravy, a mound of mashed potatoes is unfinished. With it, they are magical. The gravy I have in mind is based on a milk gravy my mom made every time she fried chicken or pork chops. A light blond roux with lots of whole milk spiced with black pepper was the age-old method, but I plan to create new tastes. Blending the thickened milk gravy with a touch of Dijon mustard and cooking it down with mustard greens infuses it with a contemporary twist of flavors. Instead of black pepper I use white, and the rich, flavorful potlikker from the greens provides an added flavor boost.
With a package of my friend Wanda Barras’ fresh artisan goat cheese from St. Martin Parish, I am intensifying the mashed potatoes into a rich reservoir worthy of holding my deluge of mustard gravy – this has got to be good. Griddled pork chops in a black iron skillet develop a browned, crusty exterior that gives just the right crunch with every bite around the bone. Like it has for me, this recipe is sure to become one of your favorites.
- 4 cups water
- 4 cups apple cider
- 1 cup table salt
- 4 bone-in, thin-cut pork chops
- ¼ cup canola oil
- 2 tablespoons Acadiana Table Cajun Seasoning Blend, see recipe here
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup whole milk
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1 cup firmly packed chopped mustard greens
- 1 cup reserved stock (potlikker) from the mustard greens
- Kosher salt
- White pepper
- 4 strips smoked bacon
- ½ cup diced yellow onions
- ½ cup diced green bell pepper
- ½ cup diced celery
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- 1 bunch mustard greens, washed with stems removed and chopped
- 1 smoked ham hock
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 large russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
- Kosher salt
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 4 ounces goat cheese
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Brine the pork chops by mixing the water, cider, and salt in a large covered container. Add the pork chops and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
- In a black iron skillet over medium heat, add the oil. Remove the pork chops from the brine and pat dry removing all the salt. Sprinkle the pork chops with Cajun seasoning. Once the oil is hot, add the pork chops to the pan and cook until browned on both sides and fully done. Move to a paper towel-lined platter to drain. Keep warm until serving.
- In the same black iron skillet over medium heat, add the flour to the remaining pan drippings. With a flat edged wooden spoon or spatula, scrape the bottom of the pan and stir the flour until it begins to cook and becomes a roux. Once it takes on a beige color, add a little milk to the roux. Stir until the mixture thickens and then add a little more milk. Once you have a thickened gravy, add the mustard and the chopped mustard greens. Continue stirring to incorporate and let the greens release their juices. As the gravy thickens again, add some of the potlikker to loosen it to a gravy consistency that will coat the back of a spoon. Taste and season with salt and white pepper. Move the pan off the heat and reserve until serving.
- In a large pot with a heavy lid over medium heat, add the bacon and cook until crisp. Remove the bacon to a platter and break into pieces for later use. Add the onions, bell pepper, celery, and garlic to the bacon drippings and cook until the onions turn translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the chopped mustard greens and add water to cover the greens mixture. Add the ham hock and season lightly with salt and pepper. Bring the pot to a boil and then reduce to a simmer and cover tightly. Let the greens cook for 45 minutes.
- In a large pot, add the potatoes. Fill with water to cover the potatoes and lightly season the water with salt. Over high heat, bring the water to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook for approximately 15 minutes, until the potatoes are fork tender. Drain the water from the potatoes and using a potato ricer, process the potatoes until all lumps are gone. Return the shredded potatoes to the warm pot and add butter, heavy cream, and goat cheese along with a grind of black pepper. Using a spoon, stir lightly until mixed and the cheese is melted. Cover the pot and keep warm.
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