Stuffed Pork Chops
I got so hungry writing the review of Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Louisiana Cooking that I just had to cook something from that book.As luck would have it, a colleague of Carol’s was coming over for dinner the following Sunday to watch the Academy Awards. Good timing.
I went through the book carefully to find something appropriate. I wasn’t in the mood for fish or seafood, so that limited the possibilities. Pork Chops stuffed with a spiced up sausage-apple mixture looked good. It can be prepped ahead and it spends over an hour in the oven so that once Sarah arrives, the cooking would be virtually completed. I wanted to roast some beets, as well, so they could share the 400-degree oven with the chops.
Saturday at the Farmers Market, I stopped by Golden Gate Meat and got 4 Frenched pork chops. I had the butcher cut a pocket in each for stuffing – not a difficult task, I could do it myself, but he’s a pro. Looking at the chops in the meat case, they didn’t look extra big, so instead of 3 folks, 3 chops, I got four. Besides, the recipe is for six chops and can’t readily be halved… leftovers of any K-Paul dish are good. I got some mild Italian sausages to use as the ground pork ingredient.
Sunday was chilly and rainy, a perfect day for cooking. I started the mise en place mid-afternoon. Once the “meez” (as Anthony Bourdain calls it) is done, the cooking is a breeze, K-Paul writes very explicit instructions.
From top left – apple mixture, peppers onions garlic, seasoning mix, butter, scallions, bread crumbs, shiles, sausage
Usually, when I’m doing a meal for guests – especially one that has steps – I make a “time line” so I can tell at a glance what I should be doing, and most important, that I don’t forget something.
Here we go: Whirl chopped apple with butter, vanilla and nutmeg in the food processor and set aside.
Brown the sausage and combine with spices, onions, green pepper, and garlic, green chilies, broth, bread crumbs, the apple mixture and scallions, stirring pretty much constantly – especially near the end – over high heat. It’s not a preparation for the timid.
An amazing transformation takes place during the cooking, from a sausage and vegetable sauté to a bubbling brothy mixture that turns gravy-like with the addition of bread crumbs, then to a thick rich amalgam that starts sticking to the pan when it’s nearly done. The cooking aromas fill the kitchen with delight. Set that aside and let it cool.
While the pork chops looked rather small in the butcher’s case, surrounded by roasts, hams and such, when I unwrapped them and put them on a plate, they seemed enormous – about three quarters of a pound each. Lovely.
The stuffing was kind of fun – one thing about cooking K-Paul, you get your hands into it, big time. Chops stuffed and into the oven, I washed my hands and various bowls and enjoyed the Oscars.
During the dull part of the Oscars – after the supportings and before the bests – we sat down to eat. The chops, resting on a bed of extra stuffing, accompanied by beet wedges and Italian butter beans drizzled with my best olive oil and a hint of vinegar, looked divine and tasted even better. The meaty chops and creamy, spicy stuffing combine for a flavor impact that satisfies and delights. This was heightened, for me, because I got to go through the sensuous making of the dinner. Lucky me. Yum.
K-PAUL’S STUFFED PORK CHOPS
2 unpeeled medium apples, coarsly chopped
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 Tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne)
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
6 1 3/4 inch pork chops
3/4 pound ground pork
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped green pepper
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 (4 oz) can diced green chilis and their juice
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup very fine dry bread crumbs
1/2 C finely chopped scallions
In a food processor or blender, process the apple mixture until smooth. Set aside.
In a small bowl thoroughly combine the seasoning mix ingredients and set aside.
In a large skillet over high heat, melt the butter and brown the ground pork, about 3 minutes.
Add the onions, bell pepper, garlic and two tablespoons of the seasoning mix, stirring well; cook about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally and scraping pan bottom well.
Stir in the geen chilis and continue cooking until mixture is well browned, about 6 to 8 minutes.
Add the stock and cook 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
Stir in the bread crumbs and cook about 3 minutes.
Add the apple mixture and scallions; cook about 2 minutes more, stirring constantly and scraping pan bottom as needed. Remove from heat.
Sprinkle the remaining seasoning mix evenly on both sides of the chops and inside the pockets, pressing it in by hand. Prop chops with pocket side up in an ungreased baking pan. Spoon about 1/4 cup stuffing into each pocket; reserve the remaining stuffing. Bake chops with pocket up at 400° until meat is done, about 1 hour, 10 minutes. Place the remaining stuffing in a small pan in the oven for the last 20 minutes to reheat.
Serve immediately with each chop arranged on top of a portion of the reamaining stuffing.
I have always felt like a faux chef when I would make a time-line for dinner parties along with a “cheat sheet” for long recipes that I would stick to my range hood. Now, you have vindicated me! However, it’s 11:30, time for bed, and this piece has made me so hungry for creole cooking.
Wonderful photos as usual, thoroughly enjoyed the deliciously descriptive commentary.
Looks fantastic and what a great idea to make a time line. Yes, I forget ingredients sometimes. Paula