Maple Brined Stuffed Pork Chops

Maple Brined Stuffed Pork ChopsIt’s A Small World
One of the strangest things about working at Piedmont Grocery is that no matter where you are or what you do you will run into someone who knows, shopped, or worked here. When I was on my honeymoon in Europe, I ran into one of our long-time customers. And, I can’t tell you how often it has happened when I traveled back East.

This past weekend, it happened again…

My sister and I share a love of cooking. And, if we can find a way to spend a day together, just the two of us, and do something food, cooking, or wine-related we’ll do it. The problem is we have taken pretty much every cooking class known to man and it can be hard to find classes that spark our interest. This is why when I found a butchering class that would teach us how to break down a pig into all of the different cuts we jumped at the chance. It helped that the chef teaching the class served for two years as the meat cutter for the French Laundry. (Anyone who worked under Thomas Keller for that length of time is someone I would like to meet and have a conversation with.)

The class was fantastic and we definitely learned a lot about the different cuts of pork. (And, that some of the best tasting cuts of pork are not necessarily the most well-known cuts.) After the class was finished we enjoyed some of the fruits of our labor in the form of fresh Bratwurst and some crispy-fried pork cutlets with applesauce. It was during this time that our chef shared some of his background and how he got where he is now.

That’s how we found out that he grew up in Oakland—off of Grand Ave..—and worked for Piedmont Grocery in the late 90s…

Maple Brined Stuffed Pork Chops
Adapted from Boulangerie on Food 52
Yields 4 Servings

Brining the pork keeps in its moisture while the maple syrup adds depth of flavor and richness of color.

Ingredients
For the Brine
4 boneless center-cut thick loin chops
1 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup Kosher salt
1 cup maple syrup, grade B
8 juniper berries, crushed
4 bay leaves, broken up

For the Stuffing
2 shallots, 1/4” dice
1/2 cup Panko
2 tablespoons butter
2 apples, cored and diced to 1/4
1/4 cup dried raisins, rehydrated
Sea salt and pepper to taste

For the Pork Chops
4 slices thick bacon
4 tablespoons maple syrup, grade B
Olive oil
4 ounces Bulleit Bourbon
4 ounces maple syrup, grade B
2 tablespoons whole-grain Dijon mustard
2 ounces unsalted butter
Sea salt and pepper to taste

Remaining stuffing will be used for garnish

Directions
Brine the Pork Chops
Whisk the vinegar, water, and salt together until the salt is dissolved. Stir in 1 cup of maple syrup, crushed juniper berries, and bay leaves.

Place the chops in a single layer in a non-reactive baking dish that is deep enough to hold the brine. Pour the brine over the chops. Flip chops over a couple of times to coat. Cover the dish with plastic and allow to sit at room temperature for 2 hours.

Prepare the Pork Chops
Rehydrate the raisins in boiled water for 15 minutes then drain.

Preheat oven to 300º F.

Remove the pork chops from the brine and drain both sides on a thick stack of paper towels. Discard the brine.

Make the Stuffing
Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in an ovenproof skillet that large enough to hold all the chops. Add the diced shallots and Panko. Cook until the shallots are softened and the Panko is lightly toasted. Remove the mixture from the heat and transfer it to a mixing bowl. Add the diced apples and drained raisins to the bowl and toss gently to blend. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove half the filling to a separate small bowl and set aside.

Prepare the Pork Chops
Note: You can ask our butcher department to pre-cut the pork chops for stuffing.
Using a sharp paring knife, begin along one long side of the chop and create a pocket in the center. Be sure to leave a margin of about 1/2” around the remaining three sides of the chop. Pinch the chop open with one hand. Use a teaspoon to spoon stuffing into the pocket. Press the chop with the palm of your hand to level out the stuffing. Repeat until all chops are stuffed.

Spread bacon slices on a sheet of parchment. Using a pastry brush, using two tablespoons of maple syrup, paint both sides of each bacon strip. Wrap each chop in a slice of bacon. Secure the ends of the bacon with toothpicks inserted straight into the chop (avoid the filling). Be sure to leave a good 1/2” of the toothpick sticking out so they’re easy to remove once the chops are cooked.

Coat the bottom of the skillet with olive oil. Warm the skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the chops. Brown them well on the bottom side, then flip over and brown well on the other side (about 5 minutes per side).

Place the skillet in the preheated oven. Bake the chops until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center of the chops reads 130º F (about 15 minutes). Remove the skillet from the oven and transfer the chops to a plate or baking sheet. Cover with foil and a couple of kitchen towels, and allow to rest while you prepare the sauce.

Prepare the Sauce
Return the skillet to medium heat. When it is hot, add the bourbon. Deglaze the pan by scraping up all the lovely browned bits from the bottom. Allow the alcohol in the bourbon to burn off. Reduce the heat to medium and add 4-ounces of maple syrup and the mustard. Blend well. Cook until the syrup bubbles and reduces to a thick consistency. Remove the skillet from the heat and whisk in the butter. Season to taste with sea salt and pepper.

Serve the Pork Chops
To serve the pork chops, remove each chop from the baking dish one at a time to a cutting board. Use a good sharp slicing knife to slice each into pieces the short way, across the middle. Carefully fan the slices on warm plates.

Spoon some of the glaze over each, then scatter some of the reserved stuffing over the top. Serve immediately.

 

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