1) CIDER BRINED CHOPS
Combine 1 quart apple cider, 1/4 cup kosher salt, 2 teaspoons freshly pressed or chopped garlic. Whisk or stir until salt is fully dissolved. Place pork chops in deep but narrow container, and pour brine over them, moving them around inside the container to make sure their entire surface has been submerged in the brine. Place in covered container overnight in refrigerator for up to four days. The longer they stay, the more the brine will penetrate their flesh; 24 hours, however, is a good start.
2) PICKLED PUMPKIN
Combine 1/2 cup salt, 2 cups cider vinegar, 1 cup water, cloves, and cinnamon stick in a pot, and bring to a boil. While waiting for liquid to boil, slice or dice the peeled pumpkin, and place in a large Mason jar or heatproof container. When liquid has boiled, pour boiling liquid over pumpkin; allow to cool to room temperature, and then cover and refrigerate. Pumpkin will last for months in the fridge.
1) Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
2) Heat a large cast-iron skillet or saucepan with a scant teaspoon of oil. When very hot, sear both sides of pork chop. Since the pork chop was brined in cider, it will want to burn quickly, so check the underside often to make sure that it is not burning. Once both sides are browned, place entire pan in oven for 15-20 minutes, depending upon desired doneness of pork (less if medium rare is desired, which is fantastic!)
3) In a medium pot on high heat, sauté white onion and sliced garlic until soft and starting to brown. Add chopped kale and a splash of water or white wine, and immediately cover and reduce to medium heat. Using a pair of tongs, turn kale over from bottom to top every few minutes until all the leaves have wilted and have reduced in size by about 3/4. Allow to simmer for 20 minutes or until kale has turned from bright green to drab army green. Sprinkle with salt and ground black pepper to taste.
4) Remove pork from oven and remove from pan. Do not discard any drippings! Place the same pan back on medium-high heat, and add chopped bacon and sauté lightly until bacon has started to brown. Add white wine and about a tablespoon of chopped sage. Reduce white wine by about 1/3. Add just enough water to flour to make an Elmer-glue consistency, and slowly pour into white wine bacon mixture while whisking at the same time. You may not need to use the entire amount of flour mix; add just enough to get desired thickness. Once gravy is finished, season to taste, and set aside in a heatproof container for placement on table.
5) Quickly rinse out gravy pan, and place again on high heat on stovetop. Add another 2 tablespoons oil, and sauté red onion, 2 cups pickled pumpkin, and about another 2 tablespoons of chopped sage. Do not over stir this mixture. The pumpkin is going to want to fall apart when done, so be very gentle to preserve its shape and to prevent it from turning into pumpkin puree. Salt and pepper to taste.
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