One beautiful Saturday afternoon, while strolling down the meat section of my local market, I saw the most awesome thick cut pork chops I had ever seen. These babies had to be nearly 2 inches thick, with a nicely trimmed fat edge on one side and a bone on the other. There were three of these beautiful chops in a package, market for “special” pricing. I can only surmise that a customer had ordered the extra-thick pork chops and then for whatever reason, decided against the purchase after the meat was cut.
Naturally, I could not resist – Hubby, Kiddo and I – three chops were the perfect number for our little family. We carefully packaged the chops for the freezer and there they sat until I could figure out just what to do with them.
I have a great recipe for pork chops baked on top of a spicy cornbread stuffing. It didn’t take long to realize how easily my recipe for Mexican Pork Chops with Ancho Chile Cornbread Stuffing could be adapted to create beautiful “stuffed” pork chops. I could hardly wait – yet wait we had to do. First there was Father’s Day with all the grilling, then came the heat wave, when no one dared to turn on an oven. Finally, the day came and I was ready to give stuffed pork chops a try.
Only a few minor adjustments needed to be made to my Mexican Pork Chop recipe. The pan used to sear the chops went from a non-stick skillet to an oven-safe grill pan. The casserole dish was done away with completely – which was fine – less cleanup. The oven temperature was kicked up just a little. And the bake time needed to be monitored. After all, these were some mighty thick chops. As it turned out, with the increase in oven temperature, the thick stuffed chops cooked up in about the same amount of time as the original pork chop recipe. Not bad for “guessing”, especially timing the half-way point. This adaptation worked out well. Having never stuffed a pork chops, it was all guess-work. How hard could it be? Make stuffing, cut pockets in chops, stuff, close, sear and bake. Seemed simple enough. I am thrilled to say it was simple and so delicious!
While we only had three chops to stuff, the stuffing mixture could have easily accommodated a fourth pork chop. No need to adjust the recipe.
Stuffed Pork Chops with Ancho Cornbread Stuffing
1 Dried Ancho Chile*
Chicken Stock as needed
2 Tablespoons Butter
½ Cup Onion, chopped
½ Yellow Bell Pepper, chopped
3 Cups Cornbread Stuffing Mix (1 box Stove Top)
4 Bone-in Pork Chops, about 1 to 1 1/2-inches thick
Kosher Salt to taste
Fresh Ground Pepper To Taste
Note: If you can’t find the Ancho Chili, use 2 teaspoons Ancho Chili powder and a pinch of red pepper flakes instead.
Butterfly pork chops from fat side to bone, creating a large “pocket” for the stuffing. To butterfly, place pork chops on a cutting board, bone side down, meat side up. Starting at the thickens part, closest to the “top” of the chop, slice down to the bone. Follow the bone the length of the chop, then press open. The bone should be exposed. Close chops until ready to stuff. Season chops with salt and pepper, then set aside.
Remove stem and most of the seeds from chili. Place chili in a small bowl, add just enough boiling water to cover chili. Let stand 10 minutes or until chili is softened. Remove chili from water, reserve water. Finely chop chili.
Heat oven to 375-degrees.
Spray a grilling pan with non-stick cooking spray. Place on burner over medium heat – you want the pan sizzling hot.
Dump cornbread stuffing into a large bowl and set aside.
Melt butter in a small non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add onions, chopped chili and bell pepper, cook and stir 2 minutes. Add to the stuffing mix.
To reserved chili water add enough chicken stock to make 1 cup of liquid. Add liquid to stuffing mixture; mix well.
Spoon stuffing into prepared pork chops. Fill as much as possible without over stuffing. Pull chops closed and secure with toothpicks.
Grill chops in hot pan, about 5 minutes to create nice grill marks and sear outside. Gently turn chops over and sear other side.
Add about 1/3 cup of chicken stock to pan to create a “steaming” liquid. Cover pan well with foil and place in the oven.
Cook for about 20 minutes. Remove from oven, check for doneness – you want the chops to be at about the half-way point. Turn chops over, add a little more chicken stock if necessary. Cover with foil and return to oven.
Continue to bake for another 15 to 20 minutes or until pork chops are cooked through.
To serve, plate chops on individual plates over a bed of skillet corn. Drizzle chops with pan drippings and serve.
Colorful Mexican Pepper Skillet Corn
1 Can Corn, drained
1/4 Cup Bell Pepper, chopped (red or orange)
2 tablespoons Jalapeño Pepper, chopped
2 Tablespoons Butter
Drain canned corn and place in a small bowl.
Core and chop bell pepper. (Baby peppers will work fine, adding a rainbow of color). Add chopped bell pepper to the bowl with the corn.
For the Jalapeño Peppers, either Nacho Jalapeño Peppers or whole roasted peppers can be used. Including the seeds will increase heat. If less heat is desired, use a fresh pepper, core and discard seeds before proceeding.
Chop Jalapeño Peppers and toss with corn mixture.
Melt butter in a skillet over medium-high heat until just beginning to foam. Add corn mixture sauté until heated through, about 6 minutes.