COOKING FOR A CROWD :: BRAISED LETTUCE + PORK CHOPS

Warm summer nights beg for light dinners and throw-together meals that satisfy, but don’t overwhelm the kitchen with heat. No one wants to slave over a stove when the sun is setting and there is only a warm breeze for relief.

This dish satisfies that demand and it perfect for serving a group – it comes together and cooks quickly, but is fancy enough to wow. Braised lettuce is surprisingly rich and works especially well in this slightly creamy, mustard-infused sauce. Here, thick bone-in pork chops are seasoned and seared. (I prefer the thicker chops with bone, which give the meat more flavor, but you can substitute a long, lean pork loin if that’s your preference.) Rib chops are more affordable and a great choice for feeding many mouths.

mustard braised lettuce & pork chops_1

You can easily fit four chops into one large saute pan. If cooking for more than four guests, you can cook in rounds or set out a second pan for some side-by-side chef-ing action.

From start to finish, this dish takes 15 minutes so it’s a great choice for entertaining at home. You’ll barely miss the thread of conversation by the time you cook and serve dinner. The prep is also minimal, so it’s easy to ask for help. Pour a cocktail and set someone to chopping – the more the merrier.

mustard braised lettuce & pork chops_2

The lettuce in this recipe offers a fresh bite and is a nice way to incorporate more green into your meals. To round out the flavors, a spoonful of mustard and a splash of heavy cream is added to the pork chops and the lettuce. All of this cooks down quickly into an intense and flavorful sauce that feels luxurious but is actually light and healthy.

Mustard-Braised Lettuce & Pork Chops // serves four

Ingredients

  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • ½ cup chicken stock
  • 4 cups lettuce, cut into 1-inch ribbons
  • ¼ cup chopped parsley 1 tablespoon heavy cream or half-and-half

Amy Pennington

Season both sides of the pork chops with salt and pepper and set aside. In a large sauté pan, heat the butter and olive oil over medium-high heat. Once the oil is heated and the butter melted, add the onion and cook and stir until soft, about 3 minutes. Push the onions to edges of sauté pan and add the pork chops, cooking about 4 minutes. Don’t move the pork chops around—you want them to caramelize and brown—but stir the onions occasionally to prevent burning.

Turn the pork chops and cook on the other side, 4 minutes more, stirring only the onions as needed. Stir the Dijon mustard into the onions (the mustard may be a bit chunky at first). Pour in the chicken stock and add the lettuce and parsley to the sauté pan, sprinkling over the pork chops. Cover and cook for 4 minutes, until the lettuce is mostly wilted but still vibrant green. Remove the cover and remove the sauté pan from the heat.

To serve, place one pork chop on each plate with equal portions of greens and sauce. Serve immediately.

Amy Pennington

Pantry Note: All sorts of lettuces work in this dish—romaine, Bibb, looseleafs, arugula, dandelion greens, and so on. Mix and match or try them all, depending on what you have around. Any leftovers hold very well in the fridge, covered, and should be eaten within two days. Try slicing the pork thin and making a pressed griddle sandwich—the braised greens are a perfect garnish.

Excerpted from Fresh Pantry: Lettuce – Cook Seasonally, Eat Smart & Learn to Love Your Lettuce, Skipstone Books 2013

 

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About Amy Pennington

Food writer, organic gardener, & cook Amy Pennington is the founder of GoGo Green Garden, an edible gardening business that builds, plants, & tends urban farms for city folk AND urbangardenshare.org, a website matching gardeners with unused garden space in cities across the U.S. Amy writes books! Urban Pantry: Tips & Recipes for a Thrifty, Sustainable & Seasonal Kitchen; Apartment Gardening: Plants, Projects, & Recipes for Growing Food in Your Urban Home; Fresh Pantry is her new monthly e-book series.

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