Pork chops with creamed kale and a fennel-apricot salad may seem interesting or it may seem completely odd, but the harmony of flavor and texture were amazing. Pork chops with creamed spinach are nothing new. However, Chef Tyler Florence reimagined it in his latest cookbook: Inside the Test Kitchen.
There were many recipes that grabbed my attention and I have made several. For instance his risotto recipe is perfect every time and easy to do. Not every recipe worked. I tried his modern burger buns which I was VERY excited about and they were a total flop. Even when repines don’t work I can still really love a cookbook because it inspired me to try.
So when I came across the recipe for this pork and kale dish I was intrigued. This recipe was what got me to try brining. Not only did I try it because I am a fan of Tyler Florence and have liked the results of a lot of his recipes but because in this book he talks about the why’s and the results of their testing.
This brine goes well beyond your typical water-salt solution. This is a luxurious blend of almond milk, salt and sugar, sage and thyme, and a bit of dried porcini! This is all warmed on the stove to bring the flavors together and then cooled before use. Then brining is nothing more then submerging your meat in this solution for an extend period of time. The results of brining blew me away. So much so that it is now the only way I prepare pork. This particular brine also made for a fantastic result in searing the pork and getting a nice color and crunch on the outside of pork without over cooking it.
The creamed kale was a fun take on a classic. Finding fresh spinach this time of year can be tricky depending on what part of the country you’re in but kale is really on show right now. Getting to work with a fall green was exciting. Also having never had kale on it’s own before this was a good was to ease into it. Since kale is a tougher green it takes a bit more to get it to the right texture but removing the spines and sweating it down gets it most of the way there. With the kale he started with some sautéed onion. After the kale had wilted he added cream and honey. The real genius came in that after it’s cooked he took half of it and put it in the blender to make the “sauce”. He then folded it back in to the cooked kale. This offered the prefect cream consistency you would want in a dish like this.
To top it all off he made a simple fennel salad. Fennel to me says fall. I also love it this time of year because it’s bright fresh taste so nicely cuts through all the deep rich flavors of fall. To make this salad it was nothing more than finely slicing a fennel bulb and tossing it in some whole grain mustard, apricot jam, and olive oil.
The result was a dish that seemed to highlight everything I love about fall in a way that seemed familiar but new.