The Pantry: Apple-Pecan Stuffed Pork Chops

Years and years ago, pre-boy, but just barely so, I made stuffed pork chops for the husband.  They were so good.  So good.  And I never made them again.  Boy arrived months later and life became hectic what with baby boy, teaching, moving, toddler boy, little boy, teaching, teaching, oh, and did I mention teaching?  Then girl arrived, teaching stopped, and we moved again. 

What does moving have to do with anything?  Well, it was the reason that I was unpacking boxes–the last of which I unpacked just recently, only a year after we moved*…don’t judge me–and this particular box had an old beat up folder filled with notes, recipes, and ideas I had collected oh, so many years ago.  Think 1996.  Yeah.  1996.  In the folder was a scrawled note written in my curlicued handwriting on the corner of an old newspaper clipping that read, “Stuffed chops!”  I looked in vain for the recipe I used so many years ago, but in the end, recipeless, I decided to just do what I do so often.  I made one up.

The final decision.  Not too bad.  Next time, I’ll use the skillet and the oven.  The electric grill just didn’t quite cut it.  Also, surprisingly to me, the leftovers were better than  the dish was the night I cooked it. 

*Okay, so this recipe has been sitting here on my computer for, oh, four months or so just waiting for me to finish it.  What I’m saying is that I didn’t just finish unpacking and it’s been well more than a year since our move.  Well, I’m saying that and that I’m slack.  Oops.

Apple-Pecan Stuffed Pork Chops

Ingredients

Filling:

1/4 cup pecans, chopped

3 oz cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup diced Granny Smith apples

1 tbsp yellow onion, finely diced

1/8 tsp ginger

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp pepper

1/8 tsp ground cloves

1/16 tsp Italian seasoning (bare pinch)

Meat:

3 boneless center cut pork chops

pinch of salt

pinch of pepper

1 tbsp butter

Sauce:

1/2 cup apple juice

1 tbsp butter

1/2 granny smith apple, peeled, sliced

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1 tbsp pecans, crushed

1 tsp corn starch

1 tbsp water

Directions:

The Filling:

Gather together your filling ingredients.

Peel and slice your apple.

Chop up the apple, and add all the filling ingredients to a medium-sized bowl.

Give it a good mix.

I decided at this point that I wanted to add a little bit of onion to my filling–that’s why this is here and not in the shots above.  It’s an insight into my cooking that you probably didn’t want to see, but I bet you cook the same way.  Right?  I’m going to pretend that you said yes.

Add the diced onion to the filling ingredients, if you hadn’t done so already.

For the meat:

Take your chops–these are boneless, center chops–

And line ’em up.

Then, carefully, with a sharp knife, make a slit along the center side.  Go about 3/4 of the way to the other side– you’re making a pocket.

See.

Once you have your pockets made, stuff ’em with the filling.

Two of mine came out pretty well.  The third, not so much.  I couldn’t get the pocket deep enough.  The fourth didn’t get any stuffing– I knew boy would never try it.

And here’s another angle.  Aren’t you glad you saw it?

Now…this is what I did this time…next time I’ll try things a little differently, but we’ll talk about that momentarily. 

Prepare for some verb tense changes.

I used “The Griddler” (aren’t those Cuisinart people clever– NOT an advertisement, paid of otherwise)  that I gave my husband for our anniversary last year.  He really uses it way more than I do– I promise, lest you think I’m the type of person who gives presents I want. I’m not like that.

I got it pretty hot.  Then I sprinkled each chop with a little salt and pepper and I topped each piece with some pats of butter.  Then I closed the lid. 

And opened it to take this shot.

Now, here’s what I did that you don’t see…

After the meat was seared and mostly cooked on “The Griddler” above, I popped it in the oven at 375 for a good 15 minutes.  Truly this was too long.  I cooked it twice.  Luckily, with all of the apples and onions, the meat stayed pretty moist, but I wouldn’t do it this way again.  I’d either finish it the way I started it, or I’d sear it in a pan on the stove, and then finish the cooking process in the oven.

While the meat is resting, make the sauce. 

I don’t know why I didn’t take pictures of me making the sauce.  I really don’t.

Here’s what you do.

Toss the apple juice, butter, and sliced apple into a hot skillet set on medium low.  Make a slurry of the corn starch and water–mix the water with the corn starch so it easily incorporates into the apple mixture without getting lumpy.  Then sprinkle the cinnamon in and let the apples get tender.  I doesn’t take too long to do.  When the apples are cooked (maybe 5-7 minutes, depending– use your judgement), remove it from the heat, and stir in the pecans. 

Plate your food and eat it.

I served the chops with corn and wild pecan rice.

The filling held up well, and helped keep the pork moist.  I might add some fresh herbs next time or up the Italian Seasoning quotient.  It still needed some help in the savory department, but it really wasn’t too sweet.

The sauce, though, made it.

And, like I said, it was much better as leftovers– even microwaved a day later, the meat was still very moist.

Yield: 4-6 servings.

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