Mustard Pork Chops; or, a Cure for Homesickness

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I won’t lie, as the weather has turned cool and the autumn has arrived, I’ve been a bit homesick. I’ve spent three of the last four autumns in the mountains of North Georgia, and you can’t beat a North Georgia Autumn. Watching the mountains turn from green, to seeing the first tree turn bright yellow, then slowly the rest of the forest changes to a beautiful mix of red, orange, and yellow. And when I get homesick, I make familiar food. I can’t tell ya’ll how much I enjoyed this recipe. It was delicious, and so much fun to make. It’s a variation on a meal that I had countless times as a kid, and it was the perfect cure for the little bit of homesickness that was creeping in. 

I used thick cut, bone in pork chops, but you can use whatever you want/can afford. I would normally use a boneless thin cut, but I wanted a little treat for myself and my husband. Just get what will work best for you, but remember that the thinner the cut, the quicker it will cook. My suggestion in that case is to increase the heat when you sear them so they will color more quickly. You want them to be undercooked when they go into the oven, so they won’t dry out.

For the greens, I used a half mix of turnip greens and collard greens. I like using a mix of different greens, and would have included mustard greens but I couldn’t find any in the store. I was ok with that though, as I wasn’t sure I’d even be able to find collards. Feel free to use just one type of green, or to use frozen if that’s all you can find. 

Black-eyed peas are the best with greens and cornbread, in my opinion. I suppose you could substitute them with pinto beans, if you really want to, but I would recommend at least trying black-eyed peas. Dry, canned, or frozen will work with this recipe, and just like the greens, they can stay simmering on the stove for however long you need. 

The cornbread is the most difficult thing for me to tell you how to make, as I don’t typically use any measuring cups. I’ve estimated measurements for the recipe, but feel free to use less or more depending on how many people you’re feeding. I really recommend using a cast iron skillet for this, as I don’t know that any other type of pan would give the same result. Don’t let any cast iron snobs dissuade you, Lodge or any off-brand of cast iron is just as good as a high-end brand. The quality of cast iron really depends on how well you care for it.

As far as the order of operations for this meal, it isn’t too difficult as the greens and beans can stay on the stovetop for as long as you need them to. I’ve known my mom to leave greens simmering on the stove for entire afternoons. But the very first step should be to make the sweet tea, if you’re going to include that, as it is best when it has time to cool down. Then get the greens and beans going. I recommend making the cornbread next, even though it will have cooled down by the time the pork chops are ready. The chops and cornbread both need the oven, but at different temperatures. So either make the cornbread first, or allow it extra time to finish cooking.

The recipes below are for six servings.

Sweet Tea (½ gallon)

Two large tea bags (I prefer Tetley, but I couldn’t find that brand so I used Luzianne instead)

About ¾ cup of white sugar

Fill a small saucepan with water, and boil. When the water begins to boil, add the two tea bags and turn off the heat. Allow to steep for at least 10-15 minutes, then pour over the sugar in a half-gallon pitcher. Stir to dissolve sugar, then fill the pan (with tea bags still) with water again and add to pitcher. Continue until pitcher is cool and put in fridge to cool.

Greens

Two bundles greens (I used one turnip greens and one collard greens)

One and a half yellow onions, diced

Four or five garlic cloves, smashed

Few dashes of hot sauce of your choice

One cup chicken broth, bouillon, or bouillon paste

A few pieces of ham, salt pork, or bacon

Two or three tablespoons butter

Rinse the greens very, very well. This is really important as if there’s any dirt or sand left on the greens it can cause an unpleasant texture.

Rip each leaf into several pieces, removing the tough center stem. Add all ingredients, plus a cup of water, to a large pot and set on high.

Bring to a boil, then lower heat to medium to continue simmering. Simmer for at least twenty minutes, or as long as you want. You can eat them as soon as the greens wilt and become tender, but they’re better the longer they cook. Salt and pepper before serving, and strain before dipping onto a plate or bowl.

Black Eyed Peas

Half a yellow onion, diced

Two cans black eye peas, or a bag of frozen or dried beans

Two or three cloves of garlic, smashed

A few pieces ham, salt pork, or bacon

One or two tablespoons butter

Add everything to a saucepan and simmer for at least fifteen minutes, or as long as you want. You can eat it as soon as the beans are warmed through and tender, but they’re better the longer they cook.

Cornbread

Two cups cornmeal

⅓ cup vegetable oil

Two eggs

About two cups of whole milk or buttermilk

About two tablespoons of Crisco

Turn the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit, put the Crisco in your cast iron skillet and place in the oven.

Mix the other ingredients in your mixing bowl, saving half the milk to the side for now. When the oven has preheated, or after five to ten minutes if your oven, like mine, doesn’t have a preheat notification, mix the rest of the milk into the batter. It should be the consistency of cake batter, and when it rested it will have absorbed some of the milk, which will make the end result more soft and tender.

Carefully remove the skillet from the oven, the oil should be very hot. Add the batter to the pan, carefully as the oil should bubble and fry the outside of the cornbread.

Return to oven and bake for 15 – 20 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to rest for a few minutes, then run a butter knife around the edge and flip onto a plate. Be careful as the pan will still be hot.

Pork Chops

One cup mustard bbq sauce (the recipe is linked in a button above)

A few tablespoons vegetable oil

Salt and pepper

Six pork chops

Sear the pork chops in a hot skillet and vegetable oil. You want the pan to be on pretty high heat so the pork chops will sear well but quickly, as you want them to be raw when they go into the oven. Work in batches if needed, as they will sear best if they are not touching when in the pan.

Place on a rack on a baking sheet, brush with mustard sauce, then place in the oven. Bake for twenty to thirty minutes, brushing on more mustard sauce every eight to ten minutes.

They are done when a thermometer, inserted into the thickest area, reads at least 165 degrees.

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