For some reason, pork always strikes me as a cold weather dish — but it’s probably just because my mind (and taste buds) immediately associate pork chops with this amazing maple-Dijon recipe, which I make every fall after apple picking. It just screams fall!
Turns out, there’s no reason this can’t be a summer dish, too, and I’ve got the seasonally appropriate topping to prove it. Figs are right in season from June through early autumn, and are full of potassium and fiber, which can help control blood pressure and weight. In this recipe, I’m topping seared and sliced pork chops with a fig “compote,” which is just a fancy way of saying stewed fruit in a syrupy sauce, and laying it over a salad of sauteed kale and farro.
Farro is an ancient grain that was pretty new to me when I first made this dish, but has since become a healthy staple for us.
Farro is even more packed with protein than quinoa, and also boasts tons of filling fiber, magnesium, iron and zinc. It has an almost nutty flavor and a great firm, yet chewy texture. In short, you won’t leave this dinner hungry!
Braised Pork with Fig Compote
Serves 2; 700-800 calories per serving
- 2 boneless, center-cut pork chops
- 1/2 cup farro
- 1 bunch kale
- 1 lemon
- 2 oz. figs
- 2 tbps crème fraiche or Greek yogurt or sour cream
- 2 TBSP sugar
- Seasoning: 3 parts flour & 1 part coriander & 1 part fennel seed (1 TBSP total)
- For cooking: salt, pepper, water, olive oil
- 1 bunch tarragon (optional; for garnish)
First, cook the farro. Heat a medium pot to boiling, add the farro, drain and set aside. It should cook for a total of 15-20 minutes, so you can prep everything else while it does so.
Chop the figs, quarter (and de-seed) the lemon, chop the kale (removing the stems), and chop the tarragon leaves, if using, discarding stems.
Pat the pork chops dry with paper towels then season on both sides with salt and pepper, as well as the spice blend, shaking off any excess. Heat a medium sauce pan with olive oil over high until hot, then add the chops, cooking about two minutes per side until they look brown and are cooked through. Transfer to a cutting board to rest, leaving the browned bits in the pan.
In a smaller sauce pan, combine the figs, sugar, a pinch of salt, juice from 2 of the lemon wedges and 1/4 cup of water, then cook on medium/high, stirring, for about 6-8 minutes or until the liquid is mostly gone and the figs appear soft. Remove from the heat.
In the pan with the browned bits from the pork, reheat to medium then add the kale and another 1/4 cup of water. Season with salt and pepper if desired, and stir, scraping the yummy bits up off the bottom of the pan as you go, until the kale is wilted and the water has cooked off (just a few minutes, probably). Add to the bowl of cooked farro.
Add the crème fraiche/Greek yogurt/sour cream and the juice of the remaining two lemon pieces to the bowl of kale and farro; drizzle with a little olive oil. Divide into two serving plates.
Slice the pork chops against the grain, and plate on top of the salad, topping with the compote and garnishing with tarragon (optional). Buon appetito!
It is so ridiculously, uncomfortably hot out there this week, I don’t foresee much cooking in our immediate future, or anyone else in the Boston area. Bookmark or pin this one for the next time we get some relief from the humidity! It’s all or nothing here in New England when it comes to weather, huh?
Stay cool and have a great weekend, everyone!