Very few things make me happier than discovering a dinner that:
a) does not require every pot and pan in the kitchen.
b) runs no risk of instigating a whinefest at the table.
c) can be prepared in the same amount of time (or less) that it takes for my second and third graders to do their homework at the kitchen table.
I’m not sure this last point was what Giuliano Bugialli had in mind when he dreamed up the delicate braciole de maiale con cavolo nero (Pork Chops with Kale) in his 1977 classic Fine Art of Italian Cooking. Unless he was cooking for high schoolers who had a full load of AP courses — because his version takes over 60 minutes and this adaptation takes under 30. Is it as good as it would be if I made it the way he instructed? Of course not. Is it a sacrilege to subject the recipe from a master to my compulsive corner-cutting impulse? Definitely. Will I be corner-cutting this recipe again soon on a night when I must get something delicious on the table quickly? Absolutely.
Pork with Kale
Adapted from Fine Art of Italian Cooking
Wash and cut 1 bunch of kale into 2-inch pieces. Boil for 15 minutes in salted water. Meanwhile, heat a few glugs of olive oil in a deep skillet. Add 1 garlic clove and cook over low heat, just enough to flavor oil without burning, about 2 minutes. Turn heat to medium and add 4-6 pork chops (butterflied, or pounded thin) that have been salted, peppered, and sprinkled with a little fennel seed (optional) and brown for 2 minutes on each side. Using a metal measuring cup, scoop out 1 cup of hot water from the kale pot and pour into a heatproof bowl. Whisk 1 tablespoon tomato paste in the hot water then add tomatoey liquid to the pork chops. Cover skillet and simmer until pork is cooked through, about 15 minutes. In final 5 minutes, add kale to skillet and let it drink in the liquid. Serve with brown rice if you need it. (The Trader Joe’s fully cooked kind to make life easier.)