The return of the pork chop.

Today’s recipe is probably most suited for the fall in my opinion, but not according to my dear hubby. He loves these pork chops with its rich stuffing of apples, whole grain bread and Gouda cheese any time of  the year and has been pestering me to post this recipe for several weeks. So being fresh off of a few days sabbatical at Edisto Beach, I succumbed to posting the pork chop recipe. Perhaps it is also his way of asking me to make this dish soon as well. Hum, interesting… Guess he doesn’t realize I took all the ‘how to’ pictures the last time I prepared this recipe…maybe I’ll make it for him anyway. Awwww!

So this recipe is a good one for several reasons. First its relatively easy – just a matter of dicing some vegetables and bread. Cutting the pockets in the chops is not difficult – use thick bone-in chops and a sharp knife. The recipe can be prepared early in the day and held in the refrigerator until you’re ready to roast the stuffed chops. And not only is the combination of pork, apples and cheese exceedingly tasty it also makes an impressive main dish for your next dinner party or special occasion supper. This recipe can also easily doubled or tripled.  It’s a win-win!

The ingredients. Add the saute pan, spatula, a sharp knife and baking dish and my ‘mise en place’ is complete! Note that I did not include bacon this time but feel free to add as per the recipe below

Saute the veggies in the butter – not a complicated step but it makes a pretty picture!

Add the broth (or stock) to the veggies and cubed bread.

Mix the chilled cheese cubes with the breadcrumb/apple mixture.

Make a pocket in the side of each chop with a sharp knife. Yes, that is my chubby,wrinkled hand…

Cut a deep pocket (that reaches the bone) which you will fill with that delicious stuffing. There’s that chubby hand again!

Lightly salt and pepper the pork chop pocket and then stuff.

Spoon any extra filling around the pork chops, cover with foil (or a cover) and roast for about 20 minutes in a 400 degree oven. Remove foil and continue to roast for an additional 10 minutes. You may also run under a broiler to get a good crisp on your chop, if that’s your preference.

Stuffed Pork Chops with Apple and Gouda Cheese

  • (2) 1 1/4 inch+ thick bone-in pork chops
  • 2 medium apples, washed, cored and diced – peel left on
  • ¼ cup diced onion
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 3 slices whole grain sandwich bread, toasted and diced (not crumbs!)
  • 1 tbl. butter
  • 1/3 cup vegetable stock or broth
  • 1/3 cup diced good quality Gouda cheese, chilled
  • 2 slices of good quality bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled – optional
  • ¼ tsp+ extra salt
  • ground pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a medium sauce pan melt the butter and sauté the onion and celery over medium heat 2 minutes. Add the apple and sauté another 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile cut pockets into one side of each pork chop being careful not to slice through the top or bottom. In a medium sized bowl combine the cooled sautéed vegetables, the broth, ¼ tsp. salt, and the bread crumbs. Fold in the diced cheese and optional bacon and stir to combine. Sprinkle with a few cracks of pepper and stir once more.

Sprinkle the inside pocket of the chop with a dash of salt and pepper. Stuff each pork chop, sprinkle with another dash of salt and pepper and place chops in an oiled baking dish. Spoon any leftover stuffing around the chops. Cover the baking dish with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and continue to bake 10 minutes. If you prefer your chops very brown and crispy, I suggest running them under the broiler for an additional minute or two.

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Robust rules the grill with ancho chili lime steak

Sometimes you just feel like eating a steak and since I’ve had my cholesterol checked recently (all is well) that time is now. In recent years I have taken to buying grass fed, organic or otherwise locally farmed beef whenever my tastes turn bovine.

Small-production, grass-fed meat can be a lot more expensive than your average grain-fed beef, just as artisanal cheese costs more than industrial cheddar. So at the same time I have tended to purchase more affordable “bargain” cuts like sirloin, flank, chuck eye and skirt (my personal favorite) rather than a bone-in ribeye or porterhouse. I do realize that a bulk purchase of grass fed beef would significantly lower our over-all cost and we have considered making a freezer commitment. Unfortunately, reality set in and our current abode (a loft-style townhouse) is not roomy enough. Rest assured we will come back to this idea in the future!

Skirt and flank steak are my favorite bargain cuts. They have a rich beef flavor hiding covertly within that protein, just requiring a little thoughtful planning and a good marinade to tease what could be a tougher cut into tender submission. I play around a lot with rubs and marinades for my beef (and other meats too) and in most cases they contain garlic, some type of fruit (I’m partial to citrus) and beer, wine or alcohol, like Bourbon. Lately I’ve been loving the addition of peppers, from smoky and sublime Poblano (Ancho when dried) to kicky with chipotle, jalepeno and New Mexican varieties.

My tips for a great, marinated steak:

  • Salt just before grilling (no salt in the marinade)
  • Marinate at least 12 hours (24 is much better)
  • Allow the meat to come to room temperature (or close to it) before grilling
  • Sear the meat off on a clean, hot grill but do not flip it around too much
  • Invest in a good quality meat thermometer if you are unsure of your skills in determining meat “doneness”
  • Likewise it is not advisable to slice into a steak or other cut of beef to check its “doneness”
  • Allow the cooked meat to rest on a warmed platter, covered, before slicing and serving

Ingredients. I soak the ancho chilies in the warm syrup I make with just sugar and water.

Puree the chilies. My small food processor is the one electric kitchen tool I find indispensible. I use it almost everyday.

The chilies look like this after they are pureed.

Add the lime zest, garlic and fresh ginger to the chili puree along with the lime juice, pepper and paprika.

Beer goes in last. It doesn’t matte what brand you use – whatever brand you like. My hubby likes Belgian-style “Shock Top” so that’s what I used here.

As you may know I’m a fan of those huge zippered bags for marinating (and brining) and that’s what I’m using here too.

Sprinkle liberally with salt and sear the meat on a hot grill. I use gas but charcoal works great too. It would be a treat to use real wood coals, someday perhaps…

Here’s that beautiful flank steak, almost ready for the platter. I made this for my hubby on Father’s Day along with grilled bacon wrapped, stuffed banana peppers and grilled fresh corn on the cob. My husband’s favorites.

After removing the steak from the grill allow it to rest for a few minutes, loosely covered, before slicing. This steak was really juicy and tender to the bite with a peppery, meaty flavor.

Ancho Chili Lime Marinated Flank Steak

  • 1/3 cup Demera or brown sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2-3 dried ancho chili peppers
  • 2-3 inch piece of fresh ginger
  • 1 lime
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 tbl. ground pepper
  • 1 tsp. smoked sweet paprika
  • 1 beer
  • salt
  • 2 ½ – 3 lb Flank steak (or skirt or sirloin steak)

Prepare the marinade the day before you plan to grill and serve the steak. In a saucepan heat the water and sugar and stir until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil for 30 seconds and then remove from the heat. Add the dried Ancho chilies and allow them to soak for at least 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, peel and then grate or finely mince the ginger. Remove the zest from the lime and squeeze the juice into a bowl. Mince or press the garlic. Set aside.

Remove any tough stems fro the Ancho chilies and grind in a food processor or blender along with the soaking liquid. When ground, pour into a bowl and add the garlic, lime zest and juice, ginger, pepper and paprika. Pour in the beer and mix well. Wash and dry the steak. Place the steak in a very large bag or glass dish, pour marinade over and secure bag (or cover with plastic wrap).

Place in the refrigerator to marinate for 24 hours, turning the bag over 2 or 3 times during this time. When ready to cook, prepare your grill. Remove steak from bag and sprinkle liberally with salt. Sear each side and grill to your desired doneness, but I suggest rare or medium rare for best results. When grilling is complete remove to a warmed platter, cover with foil and allow to rest for 5-8 minutes before slicing across the grain.

Toss it up, baby! Fettucine with shrimp & artichoke

Dinner on the run doesn’t have to be fast-food. It can have all the appearances of a well-thought our meal, tasting and looking very “gourmet” even. I find this especially to be the case with seafood. Something – pretty much anything! – made with seafood can be impressive and for the most part, the simpler the better. Good seafood doesn’t need much in the form of accoutrements. Luckily I live on the coast in an area where we have an abundance of fresh, local seafood delicacies most of the year.

One evening a few weeks back I had all the ingredients in my kitchen to make pasta with shrimp and artichokes. The shrimp are locally caught but I had frozen them in water about 2 months earlier when we had an overabundance. And I’m not bragg’in or anything, but it was time to enjoy them as shrimp season has rolled back around again.

I set them out to thaw and by mid-day they were well on their way, so they finished up de-icing in the refrigerator. I removed the shells lickety-split and I swanny if they didn’t look and smell like they were just pulled from the trawler’s net, i.e. they had no smell and they were firm but glistening with freshness. Aside from this defrosting (and never try to thaw shrimp in a microwave or under warm water. They will get cooked or worse, become host to some unpleasant bacteria) this recipe comes together very quickly once you prepare the roux and cook the pasta. Toss it up, baby!

So I left the sweet Vermouth out of this picture. Sorry! I like Noilly Prat brand in the red bottle.

Here are the raw shrimp (prawns), out of my freezer, cleaned and shelled. Being only a pound they thawed quickly.

Here are the shallot and garlic sautéing in the butter. The beginnings of my roux.

After adding in the flour, pour in the stock and whisk until smooth. I have no idea why I was using this spatula(?) but it worked anyway…

There’s that Vermouth. Cook for a minute or so after adding this so the flavor stays but the alcohol evaporates. My sauce is smooth now too!

In go those shrimp. It will only take a few minutes for them to cook. They turn pink when they are cooked.

In go the peas and the artichoke hearts. Yes, I use frozen peas – fresh would be better – but frozen was what I had on this day. Green peas are so handy to keep in the freezer.

Toss the sauced shrimp and artichoke artichokes with the warm fettucine and fresh chopped parsley. Sprinkle on some Parm if you so desire!

Fettuccine Tossed with Shrimp & Artichoke

  • 1 lb. shrimp, cleaned, shells and tails removed
  • 1 lb. fettuccine
  • 1 small jar artichoke hearts
  • 3 tbl. butter
  • ½ cup Italian flat leaf parsley, washed, dried and chopped
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
  • 1 cup small green peas, fresh or frozen
  • 2 tbl. flour
  • 2 cups vegetable broth or stock, warmed
  • ½ cup half & half
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup sweet Vermouth (I like Noilly Prat, Red)
  • Salt
  • Pepper, freshly ground if possible

In a large pot begin heating water to a low boil. Melt butter in large sauté pan. Add shallots and garlic and sauté 2 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook until smooth, about 2 minutes. Using a whisk add in the vegetable stock and continue to stir or whisk. Stir in the Vermouth and cook another minute. Stir in the half and half and the juice from the lemon. Reduce heat and cook about 1 more minute. Reduce the heat to as low as possible or set off the heat.

Once the pot of water is heated, cook the fettuccine according to package instructions. Drain the pasta and set aside. You can also keep it warm in a strainer set over warm water if you like.

Begin the heating the sauce mixture again. Just before it begins to bubble add the shrimp, the artichokes (don’t drain) and the peas to the mixture. Cook for about 4-5 minutes on medium, stirring occasionally, until the shrimp are pinkish and cooked. Add salt and pepper to taste. Toss with the cooked fettuccine and the flat leaf parsley in a very large, warmed serving bowl. Serve with grated Parmesan, if desired.