Creamy mustard pork and garlicky spinach

Always remember: knowing is half the battle. Also: Pork Chop Sandwiches!


Read Time: 10 minutes

I’m combining pork, mustard, heavy cream, and spinach to create a super savory and flavorful sandwich experience.

What is this sandwich?

This is a dish made from a thin cut of pork with a creamy, mustardy pan sauce that creates a great entree or it can easily be turned into a fantastic sandwich. I’ve paired this pork and mustard sauce with a garlicky and slightly spicy spinach to wrap a fully balanced meal directly in a slightly crusty bread roll.

Oh yeah, I melted some provolone in there too.

In the testing for this sandwich, I seared some pork chops with a creamy mustard sauce poured over mashed potatoes. It was great.

This is not a traditional sandwich, it’s simply a good sandwich. Keep reading to learn about the ingredients and to acquire the knowledge you’ll need to make this sandwich in your kitchen. First, we start with the bread.

Slightly crusty bread rolls

I needed a chewy bread roll for this sandwich because the creamy mustard sauce needed a good place to hang out. If you’re not a baker, I would look to buy a semi-hard sandwich roll or baguette. Nothing too crunchy but it’s best if the bread is a bit chewy.

Dough proofing vessels

My workplace downsized a classroom and I happened to be there when they were getting rid of some four-quart Cambro containers. I snagged a couple to try to use them for breadmaking. I know a lot of people really like these (photos below), and they’re probably what more professional bakers might use, but for a small batch of bread, I’m still not sold.

These Cambros are fun to look at because you can easily see when your dough doubles, but the dough gets in the corners and it isn’t quite as easy to get the dough in and out of compared to my favorite 4-quart Pyrex glass bowl (that I recently broke and had to replace).

I think I prefer the glass bowl because I can use a round bench scraper and get almost every single gram of dough out of the bowl.

I was trying to remove a smaller bowl from the stack and that tiny bowl dropped 2 inches and shattered the big bowl. RIP.

With the Cambros it’s a little more difficult to get the dough out of the corners, but on the flip side, you might find it very difficult to break a Cambro like I did my Pyrex bowl shown above—RIP to my best bowl.

This is the dough, fresh out of the stand mixer after just a minute or two of hand kneading.
Forty-five minutes later after a short stint in my oven on the proof setting, the dough has more than doubled.
I gave the dough a set of stretch and folds and then back in the cambro for another 45 minutes and here we are.

With this recipe you have a stretch and fold right in the middle of the initial proofing process. The photos above show the dough go from fresh out of the mixer to risen once and then the final photo is a fully proofed dough with a bit of extra gluten and structure due to the stretch and fold I did.

Spray the dough with water right before adding the shaped and risen rolls into the oven.
After the rolls are fully baked they have great interior chew and structure and a slightly crunchy exterior.

One reason that bakeries can make really good crusty rolls is because they use ovens that have the ability to create steam. Steam can be a very important factor in bread baking but it’s not one that you can achieve with just placing dough in your home oven.

Steam baking?

Steam accomplishes at least three things during the baking process. First, when you are baking bread in a dry oven the crust will be the first to “set” into its shape because it’s the exterior of the bread and it is the part that is most exposed to the hot air. If the exterior of the bread is wet or moist from steam, it will take that bread a little bit longer to “set” into shape which means the bread has just a little bit longer to rise.

Secondly, steam will promote color and shininess to the bread. The third thing that steam does for bread during baking is that it helps the exterior of the bread or loaf to be a bit thinner and crisper. This is partly due to the moisture on the exterior of the bread allowing the “skin” and the bread to expand. This forced the exterior crust to be stretched thinner which helps to create a good crunchy crust.

How to get steam in your home oven?

There are lots of different ways to get steam into your oven, but the two easiest ways are what I typically use. First, right before you add the risen and shaped dough into the oven, you can spray the exterior with a squirt bottle full of water. Secondly, I like to put a small oven-safe Dutch oven into the bottom of my oven while I am preheating. This means the pot will be hot when the dough goes in. Then right after I put the bread in, I pour in 2+ cups of water into the hot pot which immediately turns to steam and should continue to steam for the first few minutes of the bread bake.

These two techniques help to build a thin and slightly crunchy crust to any bread that you make and neither technique requires much in the way of effort or skill to accomplish. Here’s the bread roll recipe that I used for this sandwich. The exterior is slightly crunchy with a soft but slightly chewy interior.

3 hours and 30 minutes
Chicago-style sub rolls

Similar, but not a full copycat of a Turano brand roll. These are great for Italian beef sandwiches or any other type of sub. There's a thin crunchy and chewy exterior and a nice soft pillowy interior, perfect for a dunk in au jus or gravy.

Get Recipe

Thinly pounded pork

Over the course of a week and a half, I bought three packages of thin-cut boneless pork chops. For each six-inch sandwich, I used two small pork chops that I pounded thin. If you can only find thicker pork chops you can butterfly them and then you’ll only need one pork chop per sandwich.

Once I got the pork chops home, I pounded them thin and soaked them in a simple marinade for a few hours.

$3.99 a pound is a good deal for some thin-cut pork chops. I ended up using $1.27 per sandwich for the meat.

Buttermilk marinade

I’ve written about buttermilk marinades a couple of times over the past couple of months.

Another part of the tenderizing process is the buttermilk marinade. The enzymes in buttermilk help to break down meat proteins by weakening the collagen and fibers that might make meat tough. The highly acidic pH level of buttermilk also helps the meat to retain more moisture, which will leave us with juicier pork chops.

From: Ultimate fried pork chop biscuit

I use a simple buttermilk, salt, and black pepper marinade that will flavor the meat and tenderize it as well. Then I let the pork sit in the fridge and marinate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

I pounded all four of these chops to be about a quarter-inch thick and seasoned both sides.
Then I added each chop to a container with buttermilk and more salt and pepper.

After the pork has marinated and you’re ready to cook, you need to wipe the marinade off of the pork. If you skip this step, you will still be able to cook the chops, but they will not get any sort of browning in the pan. I used paper towels to pat the pork chops dry and then I seasoned them with salt and black pepper before sauteeing them in butter and olive oil.

Once the pork is cooked and removed from the pan you can start the simple creamy mustard sauce.

Creamy mustard sauce

This is a super easy-to-make sauce that packs a huge amount of flavor that can be spooned over pork or chicken. Other than salt and black pepper, there are only three ingredients needed to make this sauce and while I do give measurements, you can definitely make a great version of this sauce without measuring anything at all.

Some other ingredients you could add to this simple sauce to make it a bit more complex could be lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce or even some white wine or marsala wine. All of these options could help take this sauce to a different place, but with just the three ingredients I’ve mentioned you can make something very tasty to accompany this sandwich.

You just need these three ingredients – plus salt and pepper – to create a savory sauce for this sandwich.
Mix Dijon mustard with the chicken broth. A whisk helps to get any leftover browned bits off the pan.
Once the mustard is fully incorporated into the broth, add heavy cream, salt, and black pepper and reduce the sauce.
The final sauce can be stored in the fridge for a couple of days and warmed back up in a pan or microwave.

Spinach and peppers

I wanted something green to go alongside the pork chops and mustard sauce and I figured some sauteed spinach would work great. This part of the sandwich could definitely be a good side dish if you just wanted to eat the pork chops without turning them into a sandwich.

Cooking spinach is a wild process if you’ve never done it. You can start with an amount that’s three times larger than what you would think will fit in your pan and within just 2 or 3 minutes it will all have shriveled down into a very manageable amount.

I typically buy bags of baby spinach at the grocery store in 10oz quantities. You’ll look at the bag and think, this should be enough spinach for about 10 sandwiches but in reality, you’re left with less than half that amount. Buy a second bag if you want to feed a few people or serve spinach and peppers as a side dish on steak night.

I ended up using two red jalapenos for this amount of spinach, but they didn’t add too much heat. Use bell pepper if spice bothers you.
You might think this is too much spinach to cook at once but you would be wrong.
This is the same amount of spinach as the last photo but everything has cooked for 2 minutes.
Once the spinach is fully wilted and softened, add the garlic and let it cook for 2 or 3 minutes.
Once the garlic has cooked a little, add the chopped red pepper and taste for seasoning.

If you are averse to spice, you can use red bell pepper instead of the jalapeno, but I got very little heat from the batches of spinach and peppers that I made. The red color pops in the sandwich though, so I feel it’s a good addition.

You can make this spinach well in advance of sandwich time and store it in the fridge in a sealed container until time to put everything together. When it’s time for sandwiching, I would just heat a couple of large forks full of spinach in the microwave. But you can also heat the spinach mixture in a small pan or skillet.

You can store the spinach and peppers in the fridge and warm them up when it’s time for sandwiching.

Sandwich build process

The most important part of this whole sandwich build is to ensure that some of the creamy mustard sauce gets on both sides of the bread roll. The sauce soaks into the bread and moistens the whole sandwich. Sometimes pork can seem like it’s dry, but getting the bread a bit saturated with a savory sauce, plus the spinach helps everything in this sandwich to be tender and juicy.

A big key to this sandwich is getting some of the creamy mustard sauce on the bread.
Once everything is cooked, you can build the bottom of the sandwich with pork chops, melty cheese slices, and more sauce.
Pile the spinach on just like you’re Popeye the Sailor Man.

Once the pork and cheese are on the roll it’s time to get the cheese melty. I used my toaster oven to broil the cheese to get it all melty and warm, but you can also place the meat/bread/cheese side of the sandwich in the oven at 350 for 5 to 7 minutes and that’ll do the job as well. We justs need it melted. Then add the spinach/peppers and finish building the sandwich.

The rolled version

I was originally going for a visual rolled appearance in the construction of this sandwich. It worked okay.

The main problem with rolling was that it became really hard to get photos, but other than that it all tasted the same and it was the same to prepare. It’s also sometimes difficult to get bread that is more than a day old to open up like a book without cracking and splitting in two pieces.

I think this was an ok idea and it produced some fun-looking cross-sections but it was much easier to build the sandwich in a more “flat” fashion.

Open the roll like a book and place all the ingredients on the “seam.” Then you close the bread and wrap it around the ingredients.
If you’re making a sandwich like this and you struggle getting it to roll up, hold the dull side of a long knife in the middle and bend the sandwich over the knife.
The sandwich doesn’t photograph very well when rolled. It works while you’re holding it, but put it down on a plate or cutting board and it’s a hot mess.

A rolled sandwich like this requires being wrapped in paper or foil otherwise the pressure of the folded-over ingredients will open the sandwich back up.

A rolled sandwich like this works and looks best when wrapped up in parchment and sliced in half for the rolled cross-section.
This sandwich tastes the same whether you roll it or not. But it just works better as a “flat version.”

The flat version

This version was a bit easier to put together and it photographed better, but it still tasted the same. Basically, I split the roll in half and then went through the build process by stacking everything on the bottom of the bread roll.

A few more photos of this sandwich and the full recipe are down below. Also, scroll past the recipe to see how Artificial Intelligence interpreted this sandwich and created an image of it based on the text alone.

Getting the mustard sauce soaking into the bread turns this sandwich from just ok, to just awesome.
I’ve made another pork and greens sandwich but this one has a whole different flavor profile.
Obligatory sandwich cross section. The pork is tender and the spinach turns this whole thing into an almost healthy “salad.”
The garlicky spinach contributes more than I expected to the sandwich.
The technique/process for the creamy mustard sauce can be used with sauteed chicken as well.
This sandwich is ooey gooey from the melted provolone and the savory and creamy mustard sauce.
Creamy mustard pork chop sandwich view printable page for this recipe

Seared pork with a creamy, mustardy pan sauce is topped with melty provolone and garlicky, slightly spicy spinach to create this flavorful sandwich experience. The creamy mustard sauce soaks into the chewy bread which helps keep everything juicy.


Ingredients:

Spinach and peppers
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 10 ounces baby spinach, washed and drained
  • 14 teaspoon salt
  • 14 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 to 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 red jalapenos (or red bell pepper), thinly sliced
Pork chops and creamy mustard sauce
  • 2 thinly cut boneless pork chops (or 1 pork chop butterflied)
  • 12 cup buttermilk
  • 12 teaspoon salt
  • 12 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 12 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 12 cup heavy cream (or half and half)
  • pinch of salt and ground black pepper
Sandwich assembly
  • 1 six-inch bread roll
  • creamy mustard sauce (from above)
  • 2 sauteed, thin pork chops (from above)
  • 1 to 2 slices provolone cheese (or other sliced cheese)
  • 14 to 12 cup spinach and peppers (from above)

Directions:

Marinate pork chops: depending on the thickness of your piece of pork, it might be best to butterfly it to make it sized a bit better for a sandwich. The photo below is not a pork chop, but it is meant to illustrate that butterflying meat is the act of cutting it almost fully in half to open it up like a book leaving you with a wider and thinner piece of meat. \"Butterfly

Once you have done that, place the pork in between two pieces of plastic wrap or in between a plastic zip-top bag and pound the pork to flatten it more and make it a bit larger. 

Add the flattened pork chop to a bowl or plastic zip-top bag with 1/2 cup buttermilk, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper. Let the pork marinate for at least one hour and up to overnight. 

Spinach and peppers: add a tablespoon of olive oil to a large pan over medium heat. When the oil starts to shimmer, add the spinach a handful at a time. It might look like you have too much spinach for the size of your pan, but it will shrink a lot. 

As the spinach cooks, keep adding handfuls until all of the spinach is in the pan. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring the spinach around until it has all wilted, shrunk, and softened. Season the spinach with 1/4 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. 

Move the spinach to the side of the pan and then add the minced garlic directly to the pan. Cook the garlic for 2 minutes and then stir it all together with the spinach.

Add the finely chopped red pepper and cook with the spinach for another 3 or 4 minutes. Taste the spinach now to see if it needs more salt and pepper. 

After everything has cooked together move all of the spinach and peppers to a bowl or container to rest. You can put the spinach in the refrigerator if you're not making a sandwich immediately and rewarm it in the microwave or in a small pan when it's time to build the sandwich. 

Cook pork chops: when it's time to sandwich remove the pork chops from the marinade and try to remove as much of the buttermilk as you can. Dry the pork chops off before cooking because if the meat is wet it will not brown in the pan. 

Add a tablespoon of butter and a tablespoon of olive oil to a medium pan over medium heat. While the butter is melting, add just a pinch of salt and black pepper to both sides of the pork chops. 

When the butter is melted and bubbling add the pork chops and cook for 4 minutes on the first side and then flip and cook for an additional 2 to 3 minutes. 

After the pork has been cooked remove it to a plate or cutting board while you prepare the sauce. 

Creamy mustard sauce: after the meat has been removed from the pan, add chicken broth and then stir in the Dijon mustard.

Once the Dijon mustard is fully whisked in, add heavy cream and simmer the sauce for 3 to 5 minutes. The sauce should start to thicken. Taste it to see if it needs salt and black pepper. 

Once the sauce has thickened a little, turn off the heat and get ready to make the sandwich. 

Sandwich assembly: slice your bread rolls and spread or drizzle a little sauce on the bottom roll. 

Cover the sauce with the cooked pork and then layer on one or two slices of cheese. You do not have to melt the cheese, but this is the point where you can place the bottom of the sandwich under a broiler to melt the cheese. If you do not have a broiler you can heat your oven to 350 F and cook for 4 or 5 minutes to melt the cheese.

Top the cheese with spoonfuls of spinach and peppers and then drizzle on a bit more of the creamy mustard sauce on the top roll. Then close the sandwich and serve. 


Attack of the Artificial Intelligence

Here’s a little “how the sausage is made” or behind-the-scenes info that I found worthy of sharing.

This sandwich blog is written in a site-building system called WordPress and the official WordPress team has a plugin called Jetpack that has been slowly introducing Artificial Intelligence “helping” functions over the past year or so.

In the writing of this blog post, I noticed a “generate featured image” for this particular sandwich post and gave it a wack. It’s hilarious and I added it here.

AI-generated this photo based on the text content in this blog post.

The image is actually sort of impressive in how it’s created. First, the AI tool reads the entire blog post and somehow gets the gist that it’s about a pork sandwich with mustard sauce and garlicky spinach. You can look at that photo and everything is included. Somehow the AI prompt even got a jalapeno (albeit the wrong color) hidden right behind one of the two bowls of mustard. There are baby spinach leaves and even whole cloves of garlic strewn around the scene.

You might not find this as interesting as I did, but it is wild that we’re to the point where this technology is so readily available. It’s only a matter of time before Artificial Intelligence takes over this sandwich blog and I can retire on a beach somewhere!


Check back next week

I’m planning to write about another sandwich that’s lost to time. Hint: it’ll be a BLAST.

I’m also currently in the middle of working on three different sandwiches. It’s a wild time in my kitchen.


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