Tabitha gave Hubby a list of six items she wanted to make from The all-new ultimate Southern Living Cookbook. I handed him the cookbook, opened to the first recipe on the list: Stuffed Pork Chops on page 313. He looked at the ingredients, said "Sure," and went back to watching Star Trek Deep Space Nine. So Tabitha and I made plans to make them, and here we are, with the second recipe in our Intercontinental Cooking Event.
The filling for the stuffed pork chops is simple: sauté and crumble bacon (yum); sauté apples, shallots, and ginger; mix it all with fresh sage and cubed fontina cheese. Seems basic enough, but then again I live in a tiny city in the eastern part of Germany and for some reason could not find fontina cheese! I keep hearing people rave about the cheese selection in Europe, but so far Jena has not impressed me. A little over twenty years ago the selection in supermarkets was limited to what was available locally (no olives, no kiwifruit, no peanut butter just to name a few that have been mentioned to me), so it's not really surprising that I can't find every ingredient I want. All the expat websites tell me to look for American-style brown sugar in the Asian markets in Germany, but not luck for that here in Jena. (I did finally find brown sugar in the small organic specialty store, but it's expensive so I'll buy the molasses that's sitting on the shelf next to the brown sugar and make my own.) Oh yeah, I was talking about cheese. I can find nine different types of gouda with no problems, and folks love their goat cheese (yum), but the soft cheese is limited to St. Albray, nine types of Brie, and Camembert. So in all actuality, the cheese section is quite large, but it's limited to variations on a theme. So I went to "trusty" wikipedia and saw a list of substitutes for fontina: Gruyère, Emmental, Beaufort, Taleggio, Edam, or Gouda. I use Gruyère frequently for Chicken Cordon Bleu, I didn't remember Beaufort or Taleggio when I was at the store (and I looked at the Taleggio for five minutes trying to remember if it was on the list), I didn't want Edam, and we are both a little over Gouda. So Emmental it was! Looking back, I think Taleggio would have been a better substitute for fontina (because of it's consistency), and I will pick that one in the future... and really, I have no idea how accurate that list on Wikipedia is. Either way, I replaced the fontina with Emmental.
So, once the filling is ready, you make a pocket in your pork chops (~1.5 inches thick), stuff them, and close them with wooden picks. But wait, pork chops are not available thick here. Pork chops are generally about half an inch think and called minute pork steaks (Minutenschweinesteaks). Which meant I had to be brave and go up to the counter and ask for something specific. The butcher at our local Edeka is very patient with me, so once he figured out what I was asking for (I said something like "big piece"), he gave me the proper word: ganz (which translates to whole in this context). Score! I got what I needed. I knew I could have asked him to cut it into the proper size for me, but it was also something I could do myself quite easily, so I took the whole piece and went home. (As you might notice from the picture, I could tell the "ganz" piece wasn't quite big enough to get enough slices out of it, so I also picked up two of the Minutenschweinesteaks as well... oh, and I overcrowded the pan... you're supposed to do this step in two batches)
After stuffing the pork chops, I got to use my Roulade needles to close them (metal sticks slightly thinner than a toothpick with a metal loop at one end for gripping to remove it from the meat once it's cooked)! Yay for another use for these needles (they were less than a euro, but I still worried over this purchase because I was still in money saving mode since I didn't have a job)! So the secured pork chops go into the hot pan for a couple minutes on each side to brown them, and then into the oven they go to finish cooking. I have to admit that I didn't read the whole recipe all the way through (and obviously wasn't thinking when I did read it) because I didn't realize that they had to go into the oven after I browned them. Oops. So this meal took a bit longer to throw together than I had planned, despite the fact that the prep time (30 min) and cook time (50 min) are clearly listed at the top of the recipe.
Out of the oven and onto my plate! I had more than half of the stuffing mixture left over, so I just threw that on top of the pork chops before I put it in the oven (and I'm glad I did). I served mine over a bed of sautéed spinach, and the extra filling went very well with the spinach. I didn't love it night of, but I had the leftovers for lunch the next day and appreciated the dish a bit more since I was removed from the stress of preparing it. (And the stress was all my own fault... I worked out after work that day and barely got to the grocery store before they closed at 8, and then still had to make (and photograph) dinner.) I loved the ginger in the filling! Jason, on the other hand, was not a fan of the fruit. He likes all the ingredients individually, just not together.
If I'm in the Mood for Something Different: 1 vote
If You Have To: 1 vote
To see another take on this recipe, head on over to Tabitha's Blog at Double the Garlic.