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Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Stuff We're Made Of: Recipe

My husband and I once visited New Orleans - long before Hurricane Katrina - and ate our way through the city, as so many people do when they arrive in the Big Easy.  It's an iconic place - so full of life and a richness that you don't find in many other places. Of course, I won't bore you with details about NOLA but bring it up because I have a particular memory from our time there - we ate at a place called Clancey's - and it was famous for its stuffed pork chop, the size of a small child. It was outrageous and I'll never forget that chop or the mmmmm that slid out of my mouth with the first bite.

I've always wanted to stuff a pork chop (weird, I know), but never saw the right chops or had the time to do it, etc.  Today, the stars were aligned and I bought the right sized pork chops and had the right ingredients and even had the time to make it - and the laborious risotto side dish that accompanied it.

When the kids tell me the food is good, I know I've done something right.  But to be honest, they're easy to please - I mean come on, they eat mac n cheese from a box mix! But when I enjoy something I've made, then I know it's good - because I am my own toughest critic.

Make these when you have the time - the pork didn't take too long, actually, but it does require some attention. I made life difficult by adding the risotto but the kids love that so it made "stuffed pork chops" a bit more likable!

The stuffing was a snap and could have been anything, really.  I saw a recipe for a Roquefort stuffed pork chop so stuff it with whatever interests you. This combination just seemed to work in my head as I was thinking it through and fortunately, for me, it worked in actuality.

Apple-Walnut Stuffed Pork Chop with Chorizo
serves 4

4 1 - 1/2" thick pork chops, on the bone
1/2 medium apple, chopped
1/3 cup walnuts
1 slice white bread, torn
5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/4 cup chorizo
1 medium onion, chopped
1/4 cup Calvados Brandy
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350.

In a medium pan, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat. Saute the onion for about 6 minutes, stirring often. In a food processor, pulse the walnuts, apple and chorizo until all small crumbs form. Once the onion is soft, add the bread to the pan and toast the bread - about 2 minutes, stirring often or the bread will stick to the pan. Pour the onion and bread into the food processor and pulse again so the bread is finely chopped.

Meanwhile, make a 1 1/2" incision into the chop's flesh, opposite the bone - on the thick part of the meat. Gather about 3 tablespoons of filling and stuff it into the slit and secure closed with a wooden toothpick. Sprinkle both sides of the meat generously with salt and pepper. Warm the remainder of the oil in an ovenproof pan and sear the chops - about 6 minutes per side - until they are a light shade of brown. Raise the heat slightly and pour the calvados into the pan - firmly shake the pan to full incorporate the brandy into the meat.

Slide the pan into the oven and cook about 25-30 minutes. Let the meat rest in the juices for about 5-6 minutes (I left mine in the oven with the door cracked open and turned off the heat).

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