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Sweet, Sticky & Scrumptious

I can’t be completely certain, but I think that, before this past Thursday, the last time I ate a pork chop was sometime circa 1993. Aside from some Jimmy Dean rounds cut right from the tube and fried until crispy (to be served alongside the Saturday morning breakfasts of my youth-sausage, eggs, biscuits and “fried” apples), my house didn’t consume that much pork. Pop was a greater consumer of the “other white meat” than was my mother, and when my brother and I would visit he and his wife, they’d occasionally serve a grilled pork loin. Aside from those weekend breakfasts, or trips to see Pop, however, I didn’t much dine on swine.

Until now. These days, I can’t get enough pork, in any incarnation. As it was just shy of two decades since I’d enjoyed a pork chop, Hubs thought it was high time I dined on some of the area’s premium porcine offerings. Hickory Nut Gap Farm, one of our favorite local meat suppliers, pastures their pigs in a forested setting. Having visited the farm last June and witnessed pigs expressing their unique “pigness” (as Joel Salatin would say) firsthand, with all of the contented oinking, mud-cavorting, tree-rubbing and such that state entails, I know the chops we supped on lived fantastic lives, full of loving care and attention.

Continuing with our sorghum recipe pursuits, we cooked the chops with a sweet glaze, redolent of barbeque, but absent the cloying sweetness that so often accompanies that condiment. We used thick, un-pounded cuts, permitting all of the cut’s inherent moisture to stay intact. In short, they were sublime. Magnificent. Stupendous. Can-I-have-another-even-though-I’m-crazy-full good. You see where this is going?

And the collards? Far from a second thought to simply round out the dish, they were the co-star that made the dish truly shine. The Brad Pitt to the chop’s George Clooney. The Laverne to their Shirley. We’ve got loads of collards in the garden, coming up strong and proud from an autumn planting. A generous bunch was cooked with bacon (welcome to swine country, folks) and then, once on the plate, doused in a generous lashing of Mountain Farm Lavender & Blueberry vinegar. Add some mashed sweet potatoes with a generous bit of cream, butter and cinnamon and you’ve got a meal that helped the South become what it is today-sweet, sticky and scrumptious.

Sorghum Glazed Pork Chops
The Goods:
-2 good sized pastured pork chops
-1 teaspoon smoked paprika
-1 teaspoon salt
-1 teaspoon ground coriander
-1 teaspoon granulated garlic
-About a dozen grinds of black pepper
-1/4 cup all-purpose flour
-2 Tablespoons bacon grease or oil
-1 cup white wine
-2 Tablespoons sorghum syrup
-2 Tablespoons white wine vinegar

The Deal:
1) Mix together the paprika, salt, coriander, garlic, and pepper in a small bowl.
2) Sprinkle about 2/3rds of the mixture onto both sides of the pork chops. Place on a plate, cover, and set aside for about 30 minutes.
3) Mix the remaining spice mixture into the flour in a medium-size mixing bowl. Coat the pork chops with the flour mixture.
4) Add the grease, or oil to a cast iron or similar heavy-bottomed pan.
5) Sear each side of the pork chops over medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes per side.
6) Turn the heat down to medium low, and add the remaining ingredients.
7) Cook for about ten more minutes, turning the chops every few minutes.
8) Remove from pan, and spoon the remaining sauce over the pork chops.
9) Let them sit for a few minutes before eating.

Sorghum Collards
The Goods:

-2 bunches of collards, de-ribbed and roughly chopped
-2 pieces thick-cut bacon, or 3 pieces regular cut
-1/2 onion, diced
-1 cup white wine
-1 cup chicken stock
-2 Tablespoons white wine vinegar
-1 1/2 Tablespoons sorghum syrup
-Black pepper, to taste
The Deal
1) In a dutch oven or similar sized pot, cook the bacon over medium heat until it starts to get a little crispy.
2) Add the onions, and cook for about 10 minutes more, breaking up the bacon as you stir.
3) Add the collards, and cook, stirring frequently for a couple minutes.
4) Add the rest of the ingredients, and turn the heat to low.
5) Cook for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has evaporated.

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