Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Battle Stuffed Pork Chop



There is an ongoing battle in my kitchen. The battle is over who is the sous chef and who is running the show. Obviously, I'm running the show, but Nic still insists on calling me "sous chef Kate." We have very different approaches to cooking. I lean toward a few flavors, preferably ones that are already in the fridge, and minimal mess making. Nic leans toward putting as many different elements into a dish as humanly possible, with no regard to what we already have.

Usually we compromise and we make only one dinner. But when we got these awesome, thick pork chops from the store this weekend and decided they were perfect for stuffing, we thought it would be fun to have a mini Iron Chef battle. And battle stuffed pork chop was on.


Nic made an apricot and pine nut stuffed pork chop wrapped in bacon with an apricot glaze (pictured above and above that). In the spirit of his style of cooking this required a trip to Whole Foods. But it was delicious, and very pretty when it was sliced open. The saltyness of the bacon balanced the sweetness of the apricot. Of course, I still insist that using bacon is kind of like cheating. What doesn't taste good wrapped in bacon?


I made a sage "pesto" and feta stuffed pork chop with lemon. Even I have to admit my dish was not nearly as pretty on the plate since there was no contrast of colors, but the flavors really popped. The acidity from the lemon helped balance out the salty, savory flavors from the herb and cheese.

(Did you like my fun food descriptions there like "balance," "popped." Ok, so I probably don't have a future as a professional food writer.)

In the end, we couldn't decide which dish tasted better. And don't think that's because we were being nice to each other. If one of the dishes had lagged behind, the other person would have definitely said something. But since Nic definitely won on presentation points, we will give him the win for Battle Stuffed Pork Chop. Tune back in for the next Battle.

If you're deciding which to make, I'd say Nic's is more impressive for company (bacon wrapped+glaze looks impressive), but mine has slightly less ingredients if you're going out to grab some stuff for a weeknight dinner. They're both ridiculously easy to make though (despite the detailed instructions that make them sound harder than they are).

Nic's Bacon-Wrapped, Apricot-Stuffed Pork Chops

Ingredients:
thick cut boneless pork chops, 1 1/2 to 2 inches thick

for each pork chop
4 to 5 dried apricots (unsweetened)
2 tbs. apricot jam
2 tbs. pine nuts
1/2 tsp. fresh thyme
1/4 tsp. salt
4 strips of bacon

for the glaze
left over apricot mixture from stuffing the pork chops
apricot jam
white wine

Directions:
-Optional: Soak the pork chops for about 2 hours in a salt water brine (enough water to cover the chops and about 1 tbs. of kosher salt for each pork chop). The pork chops can sit in this brine for up to 24 hours in the fridge.
-Remove the pork chops from the refrigerator about 30 minute before cooking to bring to room temperature.
-Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
-To make the cavity in the pork chop for stuffing, first cut a one inch wide incision in the side of the pork chop half way between the top and the bottom. Using a small knife, widen the cavity inside the pork chop, without making the incision larger. Be careful not to poke another hole through on the sides.
-In a food processor, combine the apricots, jam, pine nuts, thyme and salt, and pulse several times until the mixture forms a thick, chunky paste.*
-Using a small spoon, spoon the apricot mixture into the pork chop and stuff it. Don't over-stuff or the apricot will leek out while cooking.
-Place four strips of bacon, overlapping slightly at the edges, on a cutting board. Place the stuffed pork chop on one end of the bacon. Grabbing the edges of the bacon, role the pork chop until it is completely wrapped in the bacon.
-Repeat with all the pork chops.
-Heat an oven-proof skillet large enough to hold all the pork chops over medium-high heat. Use a small amount of oil in the skillet just to prevent sticking.
-When the skillet is hot, place the pork chops into the skillet with the seam of the bacon down.
-Let the bacon brown on all four sides (about 3 to 5 minutes per side), then put the skillet into the preheated oven for 10 to 15 minutes (depending on thickness), or until the internal temperature of the pork chops is 160 degrees (so says the USDA, but if you don't want it to get too dry, take it out at 155 and let it rest under foil for 5 minutes).
-While the pork chops are cooking, put any leftover apricot mixture from stuffing the pork chops into a small sauce pan. Add about twice as much apricot jam as you added stuffing. (If there is no leftover stuffing, about 1/2 cup jam should be enough). Add 2 tbs. of white wine, and place the saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, the goal is just to warm the glaze. After about five minutes, if the glaze is still too thick, add more white wine gradually until it reaches the desired consistency.
-When the pork chops are done, serve topped with the apricot glaze.

*If you don't have a food processor, finely chop the apricots, pine nuts, and thyme and mix with the jam.

Kate's Sage "Pesto" and Feta Stuffed Pork Chops

Ingredients:
thick cut boneless pork chops, 1 1/2 to 2 inches thick

for each pork chop
2 tbs. fresh sage leaves
2 tbs. pine nuts
1 tbs. + 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice, plus extra for serving
1/4 tsp. salt, plus extra for serving
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
2 tbs. crumbled feta cheese

Directions:
-Optional: Soak the pork chops for about 2 hours in a salt water brine (enough water to cover the chops and about 1 tbs. of kosher salt for each pork chop). The pork chops can sit in this brine for up to 24 hours in the fridge.
-Remove the pork chops from the refrigerator about 30 minute before cooking to bring to room temperature.
-Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
-To make the cavity in the pork chop for stuffing, first cut a one inch wide incision in the side of the pork chop half way between the top and the bottom. Using a small knife, widen the cavity inside the pork chop, without making the incision larger. Be careful not to poke another hole through on the sides.
-In a food processor, combine the sage, pine nuts, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Pulse until the mixture becomes mostly smooth. Add the sage mixture to the crumbled feta and stir to combine.
-Using a small spoon, spoon the mixture into the pork chop and stuff it. Don't over-stuff or the mixture will leek out while cooking.
-Season the outside of the pork chop with a little lemon juice and a light sprinkling of salt and pepper.
-Repeat with all the pork chops.
-Heat an oven-proof skillet large enough to hold all the pork chops over medium-high heat. Use a small amount of oil in the skillet just to prevent sticking.
-Brown the pork chops on both sides, about 5 to 7 minutes.
-When the pork chops are browned on both sides, place the skillet in the preheated oven for 10 to 15 minutes (depending on thickness), or until the internal temperature of the pork chops is 160 degrees (so says the USDA, but if you don't want it to get too dry, take it out at 155 and let it rest under foil for 5 minutes).
-When the pork chops are done cooking, season with a little more lemon juice and a light sprinkle of salt and serve.

4 comments:

Katie said...

LOL! I LOVE that you guys battle in the kitchen! SO CUTE!!! We "battle" by arguing about who has to make grilled cheese for dinner. haha

Carrie said...

Ha, ha... I wish Alex and I could someday battle over which gourmet dish to cook. Instead, we argue over which flavor of Digiorno pizza to put in the oven.

muddywaters said...

Both recipes look great. I chuckled when you mentioned your differences in the kitchen. Sometimes my wife and I argue about who gets to cook. Since I get home around 4:00, I usually stake claim to the stove.

The Single Gal said...

This was so cute & fun - thanks! And I agree... wrapping it in bacon is a power play, completely unfair :)