Saturday, August 20, 2011

apple-stuffed pork chops with maple syrup and pancakes


I've been wanting to make stuffed pork chops since I saw Giada make these on her show. I still want to try those out, but for my first attempt I decided to use apples and dried cranberries as the stuffing, because I adore apples and pork together and also that's what I had on hand. I worked basically from this recipe, but changed things up based on what was handy, since I'm borrowing someone else's kitchen at the moment. I don't know why I decided to serve these over pancakes, but I suspect it had to do with falling asleep watching the Food Network last night. The pancakes I grew up on were Hungarian palacsinta, which are thin crepes, so I've never been attached to any one recipe for the American-style kind. The one I used today is Nigella's, because she's the kind of lady who knows how to make a pancake, regardless of nationality. They were lovely, very light and fluffy. This meal serves two people, but is easy to increase.

Apple-stuffed Pork Chops

2 fairly thick, center-cut, boneless pork chops
1 crisp, semi-sweet apple, peeled, cored, and diced
1 large shallot
1/3 cup dried cranberries
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper

Heat one tablespoon of the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Cook the apple and onion for about five minutes, then add the vinegar and cranberries and cook for another few minutes, or until the apples and onions are soft. Season with a little pepper and stick in the fridge to chill for an hour or so.

Preheat your oven to 350ºF. Use a thin-bladed knife to cut pockets into the pork chops, getting as deep as you can without poking through sides of the meat. Spoon in the apple mixture, packing it as tightly as you can. Stick two toothpicks through the edges of the pork, forming an X shape, to hold the pockets closed. Season each side with salt (I used kosher salt) and pepper. 

Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil on medium-high (you can use the same pan as before), and brown the pork chops for about three minutes on each side. Transfer to a lightly greased baking sheet and cover with foil. Bake for 35-45 minutes, until the pork is no longer pink inside.

Pancakes

 3/4 cup flour
1 heaping teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sugar
pinch of salt
1 large egg
2/3 cup milk
1 tablespoon melted butter
more butter for frying the pancakes
maple syrup to serve

Sift together the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, egg, and melted butter. Add to the dry ingredients and whisk until more or less smooth. Butter a skillet and heat on medium-high. Drop large spoonfuls of batter onto the skillet and cook until bubbles rise through the batter, then flip and cook for another minute or so on the other side. Serve with maple syrup and stuffed pork.

Okay, I guess the rationale behind stuffed-pork-and-pancakes is that the cooked fruit inside the pork reminds me of the pear compote my grandmother used to serve along with the palacsinta on Sundays, and maple syrup is one of the best things in the world. It's so good on bacon, how could it be bad on pork chops? And it wasn't bad at all, it was yummy as all hell. And the pork chops are really good on their own, so make them with or without the pancakes.

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