Fatty pork, sweet pear and spicy mustard all mingle together rather nicely in this dish. A perfect winter dinner that can be prepared in stages and easily finished when you are ready to eat.
- 4 pork loin chops (about 250 g each)
- olive oil, for cooking
- 1 bunch cavolo nero, stems removed, leaves roughly chopped
- squeeze of lemon juice, to taste
- salt flakes and white pepper
- 15 g mustard seeds
- 150 ml cider vinegar
- 330 ml water
- 80 g white sugar
- 1 tbsp table salt
- 4 baby corella pears, peeled and cut into quarters
- 100 ml chicken stock
- ¼ cup thick Greek yoghurt
- squeeze of lemon juice, to taste
- 1 litre water
- 45 g table salt
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Resting time: overnight
To begin making the sauce, place the mustard seeds in a small mixing bowl and pour over the vinegar. Let them sit out for at least 12 hours (and up to 2 days).
To make the brine, warm a little of the water to dissolve the salt, then combine with the remaining water. Place the pork chops in a container, pour the brine over, cover and sit overnight in the fridge.
When you are ready to proceed, remove the pork chops from the brine and sit them on some paper towel. Have them sitting out of the fridge for about 1 hour before you cook them. Discard the brine.
Pour the mustard seeds and vinegar into a medium-sized saucepan, add in the water, sugar and salt and bring to the boil. Once boiling, turn the heat to a gentle simmer and cook away for about 20 minutes.
Add in your pear and continue gently simmering for another 20 minutes, using a spoon to gently turn them in the liquid every so often. By this stage they will be just cooked through. Set aside.
Place a heavy-based frying pan, big enough to hold all the pork chops, onto a medium heat. Add a splash of oil to the pan and then balance the pork chops in the pan, resting on their skin. You should be able to lean them against each other to stand up, otherwise you will have to be nifty with a pair of tongs and hold them in place. Cook them like this for about 10 minutes or so to render the fat and crisp up the skin. Pour out the excess pork fat a couple of times during this process.
Meanwhile, blanch your cavolo nero in a pot of boiling salted water for 2 minutes. Drain and use tongs to squeeze out the excess water. Place it in a mixing bowl and toss it with a little oil, lemon juice and seasoning.
Back to your chops, turn the heat to high and then gently place the pork down flat into the pan. Cook them for 3–4 minutes each side, before removing them to a plate, cover with foil and rest them somewhere warm. Reserve the pan with the pork pan juices for finishing the sauce.
As soon as the chops are out of the pan, add the pears along with all the cooking liquid and mustard seeds to the pan over high heat. Add in the chicken stock and gently jiggle the pan so all the juices mingle and combine. As soon as the sauce comes to the boil, turn the heat to low and then use a fork to whisk in the yoghurt. Once it’s mixed through, add a final squeeze of lemon juice, check for seasoning and remove the sauce from the heat.
So at this stage you will have your sauce ready, rested chops and a pile of cooked cavolo nero. Divide the cavolo nero among warmed plates and nicely place a pork chop on each pile.
Use a large spoon to top the pork chops with pear pieces before pouring over the sauce. Finish with a good drizzle of olive oil and serve immediately.
• The mustard Corella pears can be made up to 1 week in advance, just make sure they are at room temperature when you come to cook the pork.
Photography by Sharyn Cairns. Styling by Lee Blaylock. Food preparation by Tiffany Page.
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This recipe is part of The seasonal cook: Pear column.
View previous The seasonal cook columns and recipes.