Herb Stuffed Pork Chops2014-02-16
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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
Steps you can prep ahead: Make the cornbread – brine the chops – chop veggies and herbs. 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.
1 skillet of cornbread (made from 1 box mix)
Brine: Whisk 1/4 cup salt and 3 tbsp sugar together into 2 quarts of cold water.
Add pork chops (thawed) and cover. Refrigerate for 1 hour. 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 and a tablespoon of butter. 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.
The pork has been brining for an hour now, so remove them and pat dry.
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 brined and dried pork, use a sharp knife to 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!
On medium high heat, I preheated about a tablespoon of olive oil in the pan first until the oil was really hot. If it makes you more comfortable, insert a 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.
You essentially have three sides to the meat now. The top, the bottom, and the side that we created by making the pocket and adding the stuffing. Don’t forget to grill that “third” side! Mine rested pretty well on that side. Set them on “end” using long-handled tongs. This will also make any stuffing that may be peeking out get a bit of a crispy, crunchy edge. Yum.
Remove the chops to a plate, and allow them 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, you will notice that the pan will be pretty messy looking! This is a GOOD thing!
Deglaze the pan with about 1/2 cup of your chicken broth. You could additionally add 1 Tbsp cold butter to make it silky.
After you cook it down a couple of minutes, 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 stuffing, and don’t forget to remove the toothpicks!