Saturday, December 28, 2013

A New Take on Stuffed Pork Chops

Just baked and ready to serve
Just baked and ready to serve
When I was young, my Mom used to occasionally make stuffed pork chops. This was one of my favorite dishes, and she did not make it often. She would buy extra thick pork chops and cut a slit into them, then make her stuffing (the same one she used for turkey) and press the stuffing into the slits in the pork chops; enough so that the pork chops gaped wide open. She baked them, covered. I cannot recall any other particulars about this dish except how good it was.

Sometimes I see extra thick pork chops in the grocery, but many times not. One of those super thick pork chops is way more than most people need for a serving. So with that thought in mind, I decided to make the pork chops "unstuffed." I got 6 regular pork chops, cut somewhat less than a half-inch thick. I usually trim fat from the edges in the interest of a healthier meal, but for this application I left the fat on. I made a stuffing mixture based on my recipe for Better Than Mom's Stuffing. Instead of stuffing each pork chop, where there is not nearly enough stuffing to satisfy, I placed a large dollop of stuffing in a mound, followed by a seared pork chop leaning against the stuffing, then more stuffing, then another chop, etc. This turned out to be an extremely easy way to make this dish, with enough stuffing for all to have their fill. It baked up like a dream and tasted simply heavenly!

Unstuffed Pork Chops

Serves 6 or more

Unstuffed Pork Chops, served
Unstuffed Pork Chops, served
1 loaf multi-grain bread (about 1.8 pounds, or 24 ounces), or bread of choice
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
6 - 8 ounces bacon, cut into 1/4-inch slices across the length
1 large onion, chopped
2 - 3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Granny Smith apple, grated on large hole grater
1/4 cup minced fresh sage leaves
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
a few grinds of black pepper
1 1/4 cup milk
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 - 2 teaspoons olive oil
6 pork chops 
salt and pepper for seasoning

Cut the bread into cubes no more than an inch in diameter and set them into a very large bowl. Add the nuts to the bowl and set aside. 

In a large fry pan cook the bacon until almost done (lots of browned edges, but not quite all the fat cooked out). Add the chopped onion to the bacon in the pan and continue to cook, stirring very often, until the onions are nicely browned. Add the garlic and cook for another 3 to 5 minutes, or until the garlic becomes noticeably fragrant. Pour the entire contents of the hot pan into the bowl of bread cubes and toss lightly to combine.

Now add in the apple, herbs, salt and pepper and toss again. Combine the eggs with the milk and whisk them together. Pour this mixture over the bread mixture. Toss well. The bread will noticeably begin to shrink down from the wetness. Set aside while preparing the pork chops.

Separately, heat a large frying pan with the olive oil, sear the pork chops, sprinkled with salt and pepper on both sides. Allow them to get well browned on each side. 

Assembling the pork chops and stuffing in pan
Assembling the seared pork chops and stuffing in pan
To assemble the stuffing and the pork chops to bake: I happen to have a large round braising pan from All Clad, with a nice high lid so this is what I used. A nice large roaster or rectangular pan that will accommodate both the pork chops and the stuffing would work just as well. 

In the braiser or roaster or whatever pan you have, set a nice scoop of the stuffing mixture in one spot. If using a rectangular pan, start at one corner. With the round braising pan I set one scoop towards one side. Set one of the seared chops leaning onto the stuffing, at an angle. Set another dollop of the stuffing against the chop, then set another pork chop against this and repeat. Fill in any apparent holes with any extra stuffing mixture. Cover the pan, or use foil to cover tightly. Bake this in a preheated 275 degree oven for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. The stuffing seems to grow and the whole thing is just beautiful to behold and delicious. 

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website, on Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.