Stuffed Pork Chops
- 1/4 cup kosher salt
- 3 Tbsp sugar
- 2 quarts water
- 6 (1 1/2 inch to 2-inch) pork loin chops (boneless)
- 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 1/2 cup tasso, diced (or highly seasoned, thick cut smoked ham)
- 1/2 cup diced celery (about 2 stalks)
- 1/2 cup diced onion
- 1 Tbsp garlic, minced
- 1 tsp freshly chopped rosemary leaves
- 1 tsp freshly chopped sage leaves
- 2 Tbsp freshly chopped parsley leaves
- 1 skillet of cooked cornbread (about 2 1/2 cups)
- 2/3 cup diced apples
- 1/2 cup chicken broth for dressing
- 1/2 cup chicken broth for making pan gravy
- kosher salt and black pepper
Adapted from menumusings.blogspot.com
Steps you can prep ahead: Make the cornbread - brine the chops - chop veggies and Cornbread: Begin your prep by making a skillet of your favorite cornbread. Or if you have cornbread leftover, this would be a perfect use for it! Then just set it aside and allow to cool. Brine: Whisk salt and sugar together into 2 quarts of cold water. Add pork chops (thawed) and cover. Refrigerate for 1 hour. Remove the pork chops from the bring and dry them well! While brining the pork and allowing the cornbread to cook and cool, chop all the veggies and herbs.
In a heavy bottomed skillet, add about a tablespoon of the olive oil and begin to saute the tasso. Add in the chopped celery, onions, and after they start cooking down, add the garlic. Cook until the onions and celery are soft and translucent. Add a teaspoon of kosher salt and some black pepper to taste to season up this vegetable mix. Add in the chopped herbs when the veggies are almost done, and saute until fragrant. Remove from heat and let them cool a bit.
In a large bowl, crumble the cornbread. Add chopped apples, the cooked vegetables, and 1/2 cup of chicken broth. It will probably still look "dry" to you, but trust me on this one. You don't want it overly soggy at the end! Mix well.
To the pork, which you have removed from the brine and patted dry thoroughly, make a pocket in each which extends deep into the meat. You want to leave the back and the edges intact to make an envelope. You also want all the borders to be uniform so they will all cook the same. Stuff each chop with 1/2 cup of stuffing. It will probably look like it won't fit... but it will compress! Use toothpicks to secure the openings so your stuffing won't come out. Season each stuffed chop with kosher salt and black pepper.
I "grilled" them with my trusty grill pan! On medium high heat, I preheated about a tablespoon of olive oil in the pan first until the oil was really hot. I also inserted my digital thermometer into the meat portion of one of the thicker chops. You are going to want your internal temperature to be 145 degrees for the pork. Careful to not put the thermometer into just the dressing! I grilled them about 7 minutes per side, and also turned them on the "cut" side for a minute or so to get some nice color on the "third" side that I created with the pocket.
Remove the chops to a plate, and allow to rest for 5 minutes prior to serving them. This will allow the juices to redistribute rather than running out all over your plate and giving you dry meat. After removing the chops, deglaze the pan with about 1/2 cup of chicken broth. (You could also add 1 Tbsp cold butter to make it silky) All those stuck-on "bits" of food in the bottom of the pan (called "fond") will release, combine with the broth, and make a great pan gravy. Season with a bit of salt and pepper. After you cook it down a couple of minutes (the chops are resting anyway, so why not?), pour that gravy over the chops. You have just elevated your chops from really nice to great! Garnish with extra herbs left over from making the dressing