Sunday, April 4, 2010
My Sous Chef makes BLACKENED 4 CHEESE STUFFED PORK CHOPS!
So Sad... The last night that our guests are here. But a great excuse to make one of our favorite dishes... Blackened 4 cheese stuffed pork chops!
And best of all, my sous chef was available to do all the heavy lifting involved in this recipe.
And a great recipe it is... several steps that show off cooking skills, but in reality, a spectacular dish that is very easy to do when you divide analyse the steps.
First step is to make the stuffing...
1 cup Blue Cheese
1 cup grated Asiago Cheese
1 cup grated Mozzarella Cheese
1 cup ricotta cheese
2 TBS Mediterranean mixed spices (dill, thyme, roemary, oregano etc.)
Now, it is time to get messy. Best way to mix the goo is with your hands. The blue cheese and the ricotta need to be mushed to form a paste. Then the grated cheeses are mixed in with the past. Very easy with your hands, not so easy with a spoon. And VERY, Very easy when you have your baseball girl doing all the work. Everyone should have one handy.
Next step is to prepare the meat...
First I explained what was needed, and when I saw my sous chef's knife skills, I had to get my hands dirty a little and show her the way to do the first one...
I used 2 inch thick pork loin slices for the chops. Plenty thick enough to stuff! I made a small slit in the side. I used my sharpest knife and poked it into the hole to just short of where the knife would poke through the other side. I angled just a pit to one side and repeated. I wiggled the knife to make a pocket joining the first cut with the second... Continue to repeat this process until you have a pocket inside the chop, with only a small opening. The bigger the opening, the more the cheese stuffing is going to ooze out as you cook.
Now it's time to stuff...
Our goal was to get about 1/2 cup of stuffing in each one.
It would be easiest to use a pastry bag and pipe in the goo. I have no pastry bag here, so it is old school. Finger stuff in the goo till you have the pockets full. Secure the hole with a toothpick.
OK, at this stage, you could easily just bake the chops and have a very good meal. But we are going to take it up a notch and blacken the chops to add another layer of flavor and texture.
If you follow my blogs closely recently, you will see that I have done several posts about blackening. It is a cooking process, NOT a seasoning. The seasoning is a Cajun Spice mix. You can use many of the commercial mixes, or make your own. I have a no salt recipe that I like to use... click HERE for that. the trick to blackening is to have a timer handy, a non stick pan and know that you are seasoning the butter and not the meat. here's what I did...
Melt one TBS of butter per item you are cooking... in this case, we were doing 6 chops, but only blackening 3 at a time. So, 3 TBS. Get the butter HOT, but just short of burning. you will start to see wisps of smoke coming from the butter. Now, add one TBS of Cajun spices to the butter per item (in this case, 3) and stir that till well mixed.
OK, now add the meat. You are charring the spices into the meat. you are not really charring the meat. Blackening does not mean burnt. As you add the meat, you will see more smoke and hear the sizzle... PERFECT!
Start your timer... 2 minutes. Then turn the meat and two minutes on that side as well.
I know you are thinking that 2 minutes is not enough time to cook a 2 inch thick chop. Of course not. You are charring the spice, not cooking the meat. The meat needs to be baked at this stage...
350 degree pre-heated oven.
Use a meat thermometer to get the meat to 155 degrees. Be sure to check several spots, as the stuffing will be a different temperature than the meat. You are cooking the meat, not the stuffing. Measure the meat temp...
When the temp is reached, allow the meat to rest for 10 minutes before serving. The meat temperature will even out to about 160 degrees, and is perfectly cooked. Still moist, but no raw parts.
With the meat stuffed, every bite has oozing cheese. With the blackening seasoning crusted on both sides of the meat, every bite has the taste of the seasoning. This dish makes a spectacular presentation, and is much easier than it sounds.
So easy in fact that even a sous chef with only microwave popcorn experience can still make this dish!