You all know by now that I like cheese and I love meat. We found these wonderfully thick pork chops for sale and my first thought was, "STUFF THEM!"
First things first: I brine most meats (especially pork and chicken) whenever I can. Brines are easy to do as long as you plan ahead and require only a few ingredients. At the bare minimum some salt and sugar is needed, but I like to add a sour component to round out the flavors. For about six thick pork chops, the following brine would work pretty well.
You can swap out the sugar with honey or molasses, and I prefer to use apple cider vinegar rather than a red wine or any other. I also add in a handful of spices: honestly, not a lot of the spice flavor comes through, but if you're cooking the meat without a rub or sauce then you'll be able to detect a hint of it there.
For the brine:
- 1/2 cup salt
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup vinegar
- 2 cups water
- 1 tray of ice cubes
Combine first three ingredients in a pot with and heat until dissolved. There is no need to boil the liquid. Force cool by dumping in a tray of ice cubes, which should give you just about the right amount of salt content. Once it's cooled a bit, place your meat in a plastic container or Ziploc bag and pour the brine over. Let it sit overnight for the best results.
I hadn't thought beyond that at all and found myself staring at the fridge, contemplating what they could be stuffed with. I initially figured a mixture of breadcrumbs and pancetta would be a good start. Then, K suggested some of the brie that we had just picked up.
- thick cut pork chops
- 1 cup pancetta, diced
- 1 cup bread crumbs
- 1/2 cup onions, diced
- 1 cup brie, diced, rind removed
- 3-4 Tbs oregano or other spices
- olive oil
- butter (optional, see below)
Start by preheating the oven to 350 degrees F.
I had a bit of a small rolled pancetta I had made leftover, so I diced it up into small cubes. Put this in a small pan over a medium-low heat and allow the fat to render. Occasionally stir or shake the pan to keep things moving.
While this is going, cut off a sizable chunk of brie and carefully remove the rind. This is very easy to do when the brie is cold, so don't let it sit out to long. Then, dice the brie and allow to warm to room temperature.
In a bowl combine the bread crumbs, onion, oregano (or other spices), and the now cooked pancetta and rendered fat. Mix thoroughly.
Add in the brie and mix, almost like a dough or a thick paste. You could keep the brie in larger pieces, but I wanted more of a solid stuffing rather than something that would ooze out. If you'd rather keep the brie intact, I would suggest slicing it into a sliver. In this case you may need to add some extra liquid (melted butter) to the bread crumb mixture.
Now to stuff the meat. Start by slicing a pocket in your chops. I decided to just butterfly them since they were ridiculously thick, but if you want to try and fashion an actual pocket you can do that.
Fill the inside of the pork chop with some of the stuffing and lay on its side in a baking dish. If you are using a sliver a brie, tuck in the back of the pocket and put the bread crumb stuffing in front of that.
Bake for about 45 minutes to an hour. I find that brined meats are hard to overcook since a lot of the moisture has been incorporated into the muscle fibers, but you don't want to push it. We served this some cheesy potatoes and a cucumber salad that K whipped up.
For me this was slightly a lesson in restraint ... before I put them in the oven I turned to K and said, "What about covering it with a thin slice of mozarella?" A line has to be drawn somewhere. Pork, pancetta, and brie seemed to be a good stopping point for this Onion, bu
It's been awhile since I had a little bit to add to a recipe, but this one came by surprise and I felt it worthy of sharing. Since I made about 6 of these chops we had plenty of leftovers. One "side effect" of ingredients for the stuffing is that it gives you the precursors of a sauce: just add water.
Dice a leftover pork chop into bite-sized chunks and warm in a small pan over a medium heat. Add a couple tablespoons of water and stir, making sure the water and the stuffing mixture combine. I ate this by itself, but I bet this would be great over some white or brown rice, or tossed with some steamed vegetables!