Friday, May 10, 2013

Apple & Dried Cherry Stuffed Pork Chops

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Forget what you know about pork chops. Until the age of 27, I only had pork chops a handful of times, and I can't say they brought back fond childhood memories. Truthfully, I remembered them as tough, chewy, bland cuts of meat. Sorry, Mom!

But about a year ago, a friend hosted a dinner party, and he made delicious and tender stuffed pork chops with a sweet apple filling. My world was changed. Since then I have thought about recreating a similar dish. One Sunday evening, I stood staring blankly at the Whole Foods meat counter until my eye suddenly caught on the pork chops. I instantly knew they were going to be dinner. I also knew I was going to stuff them with dried cherries, tart apples, and a hearty stuffing. All I can say is, yum! Do yourself a favor and make this tonight.

For the stuffing you will need (this makes enough stuffing to stuff 6 pork chops):
  • 1/2 bag of stuffing mix or 3 cups of fresh bread crumbs (I used a cranberry & chicken flavored stuffing mix from Whole Foods) 
  • 2 celery ribs
  • 1 tablespoon of butter 
  • 1/2 small yellow onion, finely diced
  • 2 tart apples 
  • 1/4 cup of dried cherries (you can substitute craisins if you have them on hand)
  • 2 cups of low-sodium chicken broth
For the pork chops you will need:
  • 1 center-cut boneless pork chop per person
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil 
  • Salt and Pepper

First, do all of your prep. Chop the onions, celery, and apples into 1/4-inch pieces. Then take each of the pork chops and cut a horizontal pocket into the side that reaches about halfway into the chop.

Brush each side of the chop with extra virgin olive olive and a moderate sprinkle of salt and pepper. Set the chops aside. Then, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Next, melt the butter in a large saute pan over medium heat on the stove. Once the butter is melted, add the diced onions into the pan and saute until they are clear and slightly golden brown. Then add the apples, dried cherries, and celery into the pan, mixing with the butter. Add approximately 3 cups of bread crumbs (or 1/2 the bag) into the pan and stir well. Slowly add the chicken broth into the pan. 

Add small amounts of the broth and mix until the stuffing is moist, but not soggy. You don't want a pool of liquid in the pan, but the stuffing should be completely wet - as if you could form it into a ball.

Then take the stuffing out of the pan and set it aside in a bowl. 

In the same pan (don't bother cleaning it), heat 1 teaspoon of extra virigin olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the pork chops and sear for 3-4 minutes per side, just until it gets a golden brown crust.

Then move the pork chops into an oven proof pan or dish and stuff 2-3 tablespoons of the stuffing into the pocket of each pork chop.

I had a lot of extra stuffing, so I just arranged it in the pan around the pork chops and it baked perfectly.

Cover the pan tightly with foil. Cook in the oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, remove the foil and cook for an additional 20-25 minutes.

Since the stuffing is pretty heavy, I served these with simple steamed green beans and a glass of malbec. Add this to Mad Men on the couch; and it was a pretty perfect Sunday night meal.

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