For the brined pork chops: In a large container, combine the salt, sugar and 4 cups water and mix until dissolved. Add the pork chops and refrigerate 6 to 8 hours or overnight. Remove the pork from the brine and pat dry. Cut a 2- to 3-inch pocket into each chop.
For the cipollini: Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Drop the onions into the boiling water and boil for 3 minutes. Remove and set aside to cool. Remove and peel away the outer layer of skin when cooled.
In small saucepot, heat the olive oil until very hot (not smoking). Add the onions and sear both sides until deeply browned, 5 to 7 minutes. (Proper browning at this point ensures the correct color in the finished sauce.) Reduce the heat, add the white wine and sugar and reduce the mixture slightly. Add the vinegar and salt to taste. Simmer until the onions have softened and the liquid is reduced by at least one-half and becomes slightly thickened and syrupy, 30 to 45 minutes.
For the tomato conserva: Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F. Oil a baking sheet with some of the olive oil.
In medium-large saucepot, combine the olive oil, garlic, red and yellow onions and some salt. Cook over medium heat until the onions are soft and translucent. Add the tomatoes, adjusting the seasoning by lightly salting. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes have softened, 15 to 20 minutes. Add the basil and stir; remove from the heat.
With a hand blender or in a food processor, blend the mixture until smooth. Pass the mixture through a strainer or food mill to remove the tomato seeds and skins. Pour the tomato mixture onto the oiled baking sheet and cook, stirring occasionally, until reduced to approximately 2 cups total, 45 minutes to 1 hour; the mixture should look slightly less thick than commercial tomato paste.
For the cavolo nero. Bring a large saucepot of lightly salted water to a boil; prepare an ice bath. Blanch the kale in the boiling water for 4 minutes. Transfer the kale to the ice bath to retain its color. Remove the kale, squeezing out the excess water.
In a medium-sized pan, saute the jowl (bacon) in olive oil until lightly browned. Add the garlic and chile flakes and cook until the garlic has browned. Add the kale and saute for 2 to 3 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add the lemon juice right before serving and toss to distribute.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
For the stuffing: In a food processor, combine the pancetta, pork jowl (bacon), parsley, rosemary, sage and garlic and pulse until coarsely mixed. Transfer to a mixing bowl, add three-quarters of the shredded cheese and mix thoroughly.
Divide the stuffing into 4 equal portions. Stuff each pork chop, pressing lightly to distribute the stuffing and ensure even cooking.
In large ovenproof saute pan, heat the olive oil until warm. Sprinkle the pork chops lightly with salt and pepper. Cook the chops, undisturbed, until lightly browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Dump out any excess oil and transfer the pan to the oven for 5 to 7 minutes. Flip the chops, top each with 1 tablespoon of the tomato conserva and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Cook until the chops are cooked through and the stuffing oozes from the pockets, about 5 minutes.
Remove the chops from the pan and set aside. Add the chicken stock and white wine to the pan and scrape the pan contents together. Reduce over medium heat until the sauce thickens. Season with salt.
Evenly distribute the sauce over the chops and serve with the cipollini and cavolo nero.
The cipollini onions are best when made 1 to 2 days in advance, allowing the flavors to improve. When preparing the filling, be sure your cured meats are cold to avoid a slimy consistency. Save the extra conserva for another use.
This recipe was provided by a chef, restaurant or culinary professional. It has not been tested for home use.
Chef Stefano Viglietti