Monday, September 14, 2009

Apple, Gorgonzola and Bacon-Stuffed Pork Chops

Cooking has always been an adventure. If science project experiments would have been compared to cooking experiments, I think I would liked science class a lot more than I did as a kid. There's just something exciting about combining flavors and textures to create something truly tasty.
This recipe is one of those experiments gone delightfully right! I found a version of it on a website when I had apples and pork chops that needed to be used. I have since altered it sufficiently to truly call it my own. It is one of my favorite fall/winter dishes. It is because of this recipe that I always have bacon bits on hand.

Apple, Gorgonzola and Bacon-Stuffed Pork Chops
4 boneless pork loin chops, butterflied
1 medium apple, diced (about 1 cup)
1/3 cup pecans, chopped
4 ounces Gorgonzola, crumbled
3 slices cooked bacon, crumbled
2 tbsp green onion, finely chopped
Garlic powder
Black pepper, ground
Olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a shallow baking dish.
2. In a small bowl, mix together the apple, Gorgonzola, bacon, pecans and green onion. Season to taste with garlic powder and pepper.
3. Cut a pocket in each pork chop, making sure not to cut all the way through the chop. Pat chops dry with paper towel, sprinkle with salt and pepper, then flash sear over high heat in an olive oil-coated pan until the outside has a seared exterior. Do not cook completely through.
4. Stuff each pocket with as much apple mixture as will comfortably fit. Close and secure with toothpicks and place in greased baking dish. Spoon remaining apple mixture over chops.
3. Bake for 20 minutes in the preheated oven. Check for doneness. (Thicker chops will take longer.)

Substitute Suggestions: This recipe also works really well with chicken, but you need to adjust the cooking time since raw poultry is wrong on so many levels. You can also swap out the Gorgonzola for blue cheese. No apples? Try fresh pears. Don't feel like frying bacon? I use bacon bits all the time!

Lessons Learned: If you don't want to mess with the pocket, sear your protein, place it in the baking dish, and then pour the mixture on top of it and bake until the protein is cooked through and the gorgonzola has melted. I typically use a one-inch thick boneless pork chop (Omaha Steak pork chops are the best!). If you opt for chicken, you could pound the chicken into paillards (1/8 to 1/4-inch thick), then roll the mixture into it, securing with toothpicks. That would probably cut down your cooking time.
I tried the recipe with a Parmesan crust instead of the flash sear. It was fabulous! Instead of searing the meat, follow these steps:
1. Create the pocket.
2. Pat the meat dry.
3. Stuff with mixture.
4. Press both sides of the stuffed chops into a mixture of 1/2 cup Parmesan, 2 tbsp flour, 1/2 tsp savory, 1 tbsp garlic powder and a pinch of salt.
5. Secure pocket opening with toothpicks and place in greased dish.
6. Spray top with baking spray (Pam) and bake at 425 for 15-20 minutes, depending on chop thickness.
7. Approximately 7 minutes before the chops are done, add the rest of the apple mixture to the pan and continue baking until chops are done and Gorgonzola has melted. (Adding it sooner will only burn it.)

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