Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Pork Chops stuffed with Apples, Dried Cranberries and Goat Cheese

When it comes to cooking meat I am always looking for something new.  I regularly cook chicken and ground turkey meat and occasionally make a pork tenderloin. I've cooked pork chops in the past, but basically just marinaded them with dijon mustard and then breaded them. I wanted to make something a little more sophisticated, or gourmet. From watching numerous episodes of Giada's Everyday Italian and  Giada at Home I've noticed on many occasions that she stuffs pork chops. I was intrigued by the method and decided to try it out. I saw one of her recipes for pork chops stuffed with goat cheese, sundried tomatoes and spinach. I thought Hubby would love this, but I had no spinach (and I was not going to run to H-E-B just for spinach) so I searched for other recipes that could be stuffed into the pork chop.

When I stumbled upon this recipe I was hesitant if he would like this. He does claim that his favorite dish are the Pork Chop's from Perry's Steakhouse which come with applesauce or something apple. (I admit, I wasn't paying attention 100%. Come on, he was talking about meat to a vegetarian) I thought the stuffing was a bit odd, but since he likes Pork Chops with apples, I figured I would check it out.

The recipe called for apples and dried cranberries. All I had were blueberry flavored craisins, so that's what I used. I also decided to add goat cheese. Hubby loves creamy dishes, so I thought I'd throw in a little pizzazz with the goat cheese. (Yes, I got the idea from Giada's stuffed pork chop recipe. I won't act like it's an original idea.) Additionally, upon reading the reviews that the pork was a bit bland, I decided to bread the chops with Shake 'n Bake seasoning. (Yes, old school Shake 'n Bake. I find that when I use bread crumbs alone they just don't stick as well as the Shake 'n Bake seasoning)

So the result was....mixed? Hubby said that it was really good, different, but good. Is it the apple? Maybe apple doesn't go with goat cheese? It just has a different taste, but it's good. I'll eat it. And eat it he did. He finished the whole tray in three servings. So I assume it received mixed reviews? I'm still confused on if he liked it, but he did eat it all. If he didn't like it he wouldn't have eaten it.

Click here for the original recipe

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 onion, chopped (Increase if you like. Hubby doesn't like a lot of onion, so I reduced it from 1/2 onion)
1 large Granny Smith apple- peeled, cored and chopped
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup dried cranberries (Craisins!)
salt and pepper to taste
1 package shake and bake pork chops (or bread crumbs)
Box of toothpicks
3 butterflied pork chops each divided into two pieces (This may sound odd, but I have little pork chop experience, so this is what I did.)

1. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in the onion and apple; cook and stir for 5-6 minutes. Stir in the cranberries and balsamic vinegar, and continue cooking until the apples and onions have softened. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Then scrape the mixture on a plate and refrigerate until cold. (I'm not sure why this step is necessary, but I did it. It may be in order to make it easier to stuff the chops?)

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a small baking dish with PAM.

3. Cut butterflied chops into two pieces. (I also cut off the fat, but many people leave on for flavor) Sprinkle with salt and pepper on both sides. Cut a large pocket in the pork chops using a sharp, thin bladed knife.

4. Set up your assembly line. The filling, toothpicks and then bowl with Shake 'n Bake crumbs. Stuff the apple mixture into chops. Close with a toothpick. Then place into the bowl of Shake 'n Bake on both sides and place in baking dish. Place remaining apple mixture in baking dish to the side of the chops. Cover dish with aluminum foil.

5. Bake in preheated oven for approximately 40 minutes, until no longer pink in the middle. I turned it over midway through. When I turned them over I took out the toothpicks. Be careful! The toothpicks were hot!

Amateur cooking difficulty scale: 5
There are many steps to the recipe. It's not overly difficult, but to make this along with a veggie and starch (I like every meal to have a protein, veggie and starch) may be a bit cumbersome, but doable. Hubby ate this with the Couscous Chickpea Salad .

I will definitely be making stuffed, breaded pork chops again, but not sure if I will make this filling. I think I may try the Giada recipe with spinach and sun dried tomatoes. Unless Hubby requests this, he does often surprise me with his food requests!

What do you think, does this look appetizing? 

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