Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Apple Cornbread Stuffed-and-Grilled Pork Chops

This one is a keeper... the crumbled cornbread is mixed with diced apple sautéed in butter and - while the pork chops are grilling - the juices combine with the cornbread stuffing and make such a great sweet, grilled flavor. Yum - we'd like to serve this for guests sometime soon... anyone free this weekend???

We start off by making our Cast Iron Skillet Corn Bread. Although we had to use lowfat milk instead of buttermilk and didn't go with the bacon this time, still came out sweet and corny (ha). The great thing about this recipe is that we'll only use maybe 1/4 of that skillet of cornbread - the rest is for us to enjoy!

This recipe was cribbed from notes of an Alton Brown preparation of some Stuffed, Grilled Pork Chops, and you'd never believe it - but he brined them first! (He brines everything.) So, so did we - in cold water, kosher salt, about a cup of cider vinegar, maybe a 1/4-cup of brown sugar, and some Tellicherry peppercorns. Combined well, we added our bone-in pork chops - about 1" thick - and they took a swim for a couple of hours.

After the brine the pork chops will have taken on a little gray color on the very outside, just as you would see on a brisket or other cut of meat that you are brining with vinegar (unless you add nitrates to keep it pink). Don't even worry about that gray color - that just means you did it right.

So, 1" bone-in pork chops brined and cornbread cooling... the final piece of this puzzle is one diced Braeburn apple, sautéed in about a 1/3 stick of butter along with a little sprinkle of brown sugar and a pinch of salt. When cooked soft, add that apple-butter mixture to 1/4 of your cornbread that has been crumbled into a bowl - and mix together to make your stuffing.

Assembly: cut an incision into the "top" meaty part of your pork chops with a sharp-tipped knife and cut through the middle of that meat to make a pocket for your stuffing. Then, stuff. As much apple cornbread mixture you can fit, and flatten it down in the chop to distribute evenly. Repeat.

A simple salt and pepper and sweet paprika sprinkle on the outside of your pork chops and onto a hot medium-high grill for 3 minutes, then "twist" (or rotate) 90-degrees to create the grill cross marks (thanks, Alton) and go 2 more minutes. Then flip, 3 minutes, rotate 90-degrees, 2 minutes, done. After a few minutes cooling time, you're ready to eat.

We had ours with some sautéed swiss chard with raisins. Remove the red ribs from the chard, dice them up and add to a large pan that already is warmed with some olive oil. Sautée for just a couple of minutes and then add a handful of raisins and 1 cup of chicken stock. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove the cover and add the greens which you have roughly chopped. Let those wilt for about 5 minutes, and some salt and pepper to taste and you have a great healthy sidedish. The sweetness of the raisins balances out the slight bitterness of the chard.

The pork chops with their cornbread and apples and paprika crust came out so wonderfully charred and sweet, so moist, and so flavorful... we were in love. Along with the swiss chard with it's sweet, plumped raisins and a little slice of cornbread, this meal is definitely a keeper. Come on over!

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