Saturday, September 18, 2010

First Entry- Stuffed Pork Chops


So for the First real entry in this blog I wanted to do something beyond my ordinary repertoire.  That and i really wanted to play with my new knives as i just received them this week and I can now safely say that there is a world of difference between these new knives(Henckels) and my old knives.

Originally I had wanted to make stuffed chicken breasts, but as I rolled ideas around in my head I really wanted to do something with red curry and but didn't have the time or energy to research how to do it properly.  So in wandering about the Stop & Shop for inordinately long periods of time inspiration and weekly sales eventually yielded the ideas behind this dish, which on some level was also inspired by "The Luggage" from Terry Pratchett's Discworld series (In my minds eye the chops looked a little like suitcases when they were wrapped in the bacon.).  Anyway enough preliminary stuff, onto the cooking!

The first phase of the prep for me was to start some rice in the rice-cooker.  I use a 3 cup Zojirushi, which rocks, and it is super easy as you just set it and about 50 minutes later it is ready to go.  So I started with 2 cups of sushi rice, I just personally prefer sushi rice to long grain but the rice is really secondary at best so whatever grain you prefer should work fine.  Then start in on prepping the apple and mushroom for later.  I diced them relatively finely to aid in the stuffing later on.  After you have them chopped i just threw them into a pan to sweat and develop a little flavor.  I didn't use any butter or olive oil for this and things turned out pretty great.  The mushrooms will start to sweat and take on a nice sheen after a minute or two in
 the pan, I took them off the heat right as they were starting to accumulate liquid in the pan and you could clearly smell the mushroom's fragrance.  The apples i just threw in to get some quick caramelization on them to lock in the sweetness and so they would keep a little of their texture into the baking process.  I took the apples off the heat as soon as they started getting a little soft and were showing some color.  Now that the prep is done the hard part commences.

In my opinion the hardest part of this entire enterprise was cutting the pocket into the chop itself.  This is where it helps to have a nice sharp knife as you want to make the first cut in and slice all the way to the back of the chop to really get as much area as you can for the stuffing pocket.  Once you have the knife in just drawn it to the other side of the chop using your hand that is holding the chop to feel where the point of the blade is so you can keep it on course.  Once you have the pocket cut it is just a matter of stuffing the chop however you like.  I put in a small piece of butter at the innermost part of the pocket, in retrospect I would not recommend this as it didn't help develop any flavor at all.  That and I only used one of the two apples that I had prepped for stuffing the pork.  In the future I would use both apples as a higher proportion of apples adds ALOT of flavor to the dish and opens the possibility to really play with that flavor profile and just have some fun, like maybe working some cinnamon into the dish (totally doing that next time).  Anyway, once you have the chop stuffed to your content I grated a little parm-reg onto it, which also proved extraneous as it was too little to truly impact the flavors at work in the dish.  Once your done filling the chop I used two toothpicks to pin the opening closed, and made sure to score the fat on the back of the chop.  Once the opening was closed then comes the bacon wrapping.  Essentially take whatever poison you prefer as far as bacon, for this I used some thick cut hardwood smoked bacon and wrapped it around the chop and then pinned it in place with a toothpick.  You may want to use more than two slices but I would offer this warning, that while the bacon is delicious, and it gives great flavor to both the chop and the rice underneath, yeah bacon flavored rice ::swoon:: , it comes with the drawback that it makes the final dish a little bit harder to cut and eat as a whole unit.  

So once the wrapping is done just place the chops on top of a bed of rice in a baking pan and throw it on in the oven.  I left it in for about 45-50 minutes at 400 and it came out pretty damn good.  This also gives you time to clean up the kitchen before sitting down to eat.

All in all I think the dish was a great success, the braeburn apples paired amazingly with the pork, and bacon makes ANYTHING better, especially in this case the rice underneath the pork which acted as the side dish, and is also highly flexible as to other ways you could possibly jazz it up, though not with Zatarain's.  This will definitely be a dish to repeat and honestly doesn't cost all that much to make and while it looks complicated is really pretty simple.  And this has proven to have gone on alot longer than i ever anticipated it would so I'm going to cut myself off, that and I'm hella tired and need to get up early for trial team tomorrow, peace.

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