Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Creamed Chard and Breaded Pork Cutlets

SmittenKitchen might be one of my favorite food blogs. She’s hilarious, endearing and makes damn fine food. I found myself this week with a package of pork cutlets and a massive bunch of swiss chard without any bright ideas on what new take I could employ with seemingly standard ingredients. SmittenKitchen to the rescue! No only did I find an epic recipe for creamed swiss chard (seriously amazing discovery, which when pared with the spectacular fresh onions and garlic I found at the farmers market made one hell of a side dish) but she also was nice enough to share a delightful recipe for crunchy breaded cutlets!  I was in heaven (and so was husband when he came home to pipping big plate of creamy chard and tangy yet cheesey breaded pork). And so I bring to you my take on a SmittenKitchen classic.

Creamed Swiss Chard and Breaded Season Pork Cutlets
A Girl and Her Kitchen (slightly adapted from SmittenKitchen)

Creamed Chard
SmittenKitchen says you can swap cream or half and half for all or a portion of the milk, if you want this to be extra lush. I only had low-fat milk on hand and it worked just fine too.

1 1-pound bunch Swiss chard, thick stems removed and chopped and leaves sliced into ribbons
3 spring onions, ends trimmed, white and some green parts sliced into thin coins
1 stalk of fresh garlic, ends trimmed, white and some green parts sliced into thin coins
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups milk
1/2 cup pecorino, grated
Salt and pepper
1 tsp fresh lemon juice (optional)

Wash your chard, but no need to dry it, just place it in a large pot over high heat. Cook, covered, with just the water clinging to leaves, stirring occasionally, until wilted, about 6 minutes. (Note, stems take longer to cook than leaves so might start those a few minutes before tossing in the leaves.)
Press or squeeze out the excess liquid any number of ways, either by wringing it out in cheesecloth, putting it in a mesh strainer and pressing the moisture out with a spatula or large spoon or letting it cool long enough to grab small handfuls and squeezing them to remove as much water as possible.

Wipe out the large pot so you can use it again. Heat milk or cream in a small saucepan over moderate heat, stirring, until warm (or microwave). Keep warm. Meanwhile, cook onion and garlic with a pinch of salt and pepper in butter in your wiped-out large pot over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about six minutes.

Stir in flour and cook roux, whisking, about three minutes. Add warm milk or cream in a slow stream, whisking constantly to prevent lumps, and simmer, whisking, until thickened, three to four minutes (mine took maybe 2 mins).
 Stir in chard and cheese. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed. Might also add a dash of fresh lemon juice to brighten it up.

Breaded and Baked Pork Cutlets

SmittenKitchen says this recipe was developed using natural pork, but enhanced pork (injected with a salt solution) will work as well. If using enhanced pork, eliminate the brining step.

Table salt
4 boneless center-cut pork chops, 6 to 8 ounces each, 3/4 to 1 inch thick, trimmed of excess fat
2 cups panko bread crumbs
1 small shallot, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
3 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 tablespoon)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme (fresh also good)
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves (optional)
1 large egg and 2 egg whites
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Lemon wedges

Dissolve 1/4 cup table salt in 6 cups water in medium container or gallon-sized zipper-lock bag. Submerge chops, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate 20 minutes. Rinse chops under cold water and dry thoroughly with paper towels.

On a baking sheet, toss panko with shallot, garlic, olive oil, thyme 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Toss until crumbs are evenly coated with oil. Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes, stirring twice during baking time. If using fresh herbs, stir them in after the baking process.
Place parmesan in pie plate. In second pie plate, whisk eggs and mustard until combined. Place the bread crumbs mixture in a third dish. Increase oven temperature to 425 degrees. Spray wire rack with nonstick cooking spray and place in rimmed baking sheet (I didn’t have a wire rack on hand so I used a silpat that I preheated in the oven).

Season chops with pepper (no more salt needed). Dredge 1 pork chop in cheese, pressing to get some of the cheese to adhere to the chop. Using tongs, coat with egg mixture; let excess drip off. Coat all sides of chop with bread crumb mixture, pressing gently so that thick layer of crumbs adheres to chop. Transfer breaded chop to wire rack/baking sheet. Repeat with remaining 3 chops.

Bake until instant-read thermometer inserted into center of chops registers 150 degrees, 17 to 25 minutes (maybe less for smaller chops). Let rest on rack 5 minutes before serving with lemon wedges.

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