Pan-Seared Pork Chops with Garlic and Greens Recipe
These pork chops, served with crispy sage leaves, charred lemon slices, and greens, are quick to make (minus the brining time!) and a fabulous treat for any weeknight. They would also be great on a stay-at-home Saturday night (hello, binge TV!).
WHICH PORK CHOPS SHOULD I BUY?
Thick pork chops (about 1- to 1 1/4-inches thick) are best for brining and cooking if you want to keep the meat from drying out.
The bone-in chops are my favorite—I think they have more flavor, like anything that is cooked on the bone. You can also use boneless chops, which are actually bone-in rib chops with the bone cut away. Both are very lean, which leads me to the next point.
BRINED PORK CHOPS ARE JUICIER
I confess that since I am not much of a planner, I am therefore not much of a briner. Still, I took the plunge this time and added patience to my cooking style.
I was delighted with the taste and texture of these cooked chops: perfectly moist inside with a touch of sweetness from the brine.
Yes, you can make this recipe without the brining, but I heartily recommend doing it. Why? Pork chops are ultra lean, and the lack of fat content makes them susceptible to drying out during the cooking process.
Brining helps counter this. A brine is a liquid solution with salt and other flavorful ingredients, into which the chops are submerged for a period of time. This brining causes the protein strands in the meat to relax and uncoil, forming a web that traps moisture.
I took my cue for the brine from Elise’s brined chops. Preparing the brine takes only about five minutes, so you can pop the chops into a zipper bag with the brine and leave them all day or overnight in the refrigerator until you’re ready to cook. You just have to remember to do it!
HOW TO PAN SEAR PORK CHOPS
Start by heating the oil in a large skillet until it glides easily across the pan when you tilt it. Add the brined chops, sear them on both sides, then continue to cook, turning every minute or so, or until they’re cooked through and a deep golden brown. This only takes about 10 minutes!
After the pork chops are browned, the fun begins.
Add some sage leaves to the pan with smashed garlic cloves and lemon slices. Wait twenty to thirty seconds for the sage leaves to crisp and remove them.
Meanwhile, the lemon slices and garlic flavor the oil in the pan, and once the oil is infused and the lemons look pretty (save them for garnish), out they go, and in go the rinsed greens.
The greens soak up all the porky, garlicky, lemony deliciousness already in the pan. As if that wasn’t enough, you only have one pan to wash!
GREENS COOK IN MINUTES!
The beauty of greens is that they cook quickly (in this case, while the pork rests), and they pick up all the flavors from the pan in the process. You’ll want to rinse them and shake a bit of the water off—not all. Do this even if the package says they’ve been washed—you need that moisture to help them wilt.
Also, their hint of bitterness contrasts well with the richness of the meat. I used kale (two bunches) in this recipe, but you could use chard, or any other sturdy green you choose.
CRISPY SAGE LEAVES MAKE IT FANCY
You are such a fancy-pants with these sage leaves! Magic without a wand! Who knew that with 20 to 30 seconds in hot oil the leaves could become your own secret little chef-like touch?
They’re great to garnish squash soup, pasta or roasted winter vegetables, too.
LOVE PORK CHOPS? TRY THESE RECIPES NEXT TIME!