Saturday, June 25, 2011

Grilled Pork Chops Stuffed with Bleu Cheese and Fried Prosciutto! Call an Ambulance!!

Sometimes, pork is not "porky" enough, and it takes a little more pork to "porkify" it into submission. This was one of those times. Tonight's meal was chock full of new techniques, and ended in some very high notes and some things I wouldn't do again, so go to the hat store, get yourself a hat, and hold the heck onto it!!!!

Pork chops are awesome. Three of my four coronary arteries are completely occluded from exposure to pork chops over the years. However, there isn't much porky fat on them, so we usually fry them to make them taste worth a poot. Two techniques solve that problem without frying: brining and stuffing.

Here's how tonight went down: I started early this morning with a brine for the extra thick pork chops. Brining means soaking the meat in an extremely hypertonic (very salty) water bath to infuse it with salt and any other herbs you want. It seasons the meat all the way through, and it seals in moisture so it doesn't dry out on the grill. My brine consisted of salt, sugar, parsley, rosemary, basil, lemon and pepper, and let me tell you, it really helped. Brining is the thing that makes the chicken or pork you eat at a nice restaurant taste like a completely different meat than anything you ever cook at home. It's cheap, easy and has a huge payoff, so try it! Recipe and instructions will be at the end of the post.

After 8 hours of brining, I got the pork out, dried it off, and got down to business. I wanted a tangy, powerful stuffing, so I went with bleu cheese (on sale at the grocery store), fried prosciutto ham (felt guilty about using bacon), and a basil leaf (because if there wasn't something green, our hearts would have exploded). To stuff a pork chop, you use a small sharp knife, and cut a slice into the half way point of the thickness, and open it up all the way through to all the edges, so it's a pork pocket. I crisped up the prosciutto in a skillet, then stuffed the three ingredients into the chops. No need to salt the outside of the chops due to the brining. I closed the holes with three matchsticks. ***Super Tip!!! If you don't have tooth picks, like a normal person, use match sticks. But! For the love of mercy, remove the heads of the matches! I remembered at the last minute**** A light brush with olive oil, and the chops hit the grill. about 5 minutes per side, and they were perfect. Cheese bubbling out the side and nice crust on both sides.

We decided to get wild tonight, or as wild as a pharmacist and a pregnant lady can, anyway, so we added a fancy sauce and side item. I was worried our chops would be bland, so I used the pan with the prosciutto drippings and added butter, lemon juice, garlic, parsley and a dry white wine to make a reduced scampi type sauce. I went with a 2009 Sauvignon Blanc from Smoking Loon. I feel like a tool saying it like that, because my rationale for picking that one was (1) I know sauvignon blanc is dry, and sweet wine sauce tastes like throw up and (2) it was the cheapest one they had that was American Made (go USA!). I literally know nothing about wine, except that it gives you a headache, and that if you find yourself in an uncomfortable conversation with someone who is an expert, you can fall back on "How bout those reds with their tannins? Mmmmm, I love me some tannins." I have no idea what tannins are, but that one has saved me many times. I put all those things in the skillet and let it reduce until the pork was done, then spooned it over the top. If you are interested, Smoking Loon is available wherever cheap, liver murdering wine is sold. Because I didn't want to disgrace my cooking with it another night, I went ahead and drank the rest of it that didn't go into the sauce. Took one for the team!

The side item adventure we had was to get fresh uncooked pasta and sauce from a cool local place and have Pregpocalypse cook it up for us. Mona Lisa Pasta here in Charlottesville is a ridiculously funky little place that prepares fresh sheets of flavored pasta every day and you go there and pick your cut (garlic parsley fettucine), your sauce (alfredo), and then they give you a paper bag that you take home and cook for a mere 90 seconds. Taste wise, it was pretty good, but the experience of having it cut by hand by a hippy in a refurbished factory downtown was where the value was. If your town isn't pretentious enough to have a fresh pasta place, I highly recommend Buittoni fresh pasta in the cold food aisle of any grocery store. It is excellent and cheap.

Hits tonight were the flavor and texture of the brined pork, the tang of the stuffing, and the addition of hickory wood chips to the smoker box on Meat Blaster. Misses were the taste bud confusion caused by the tangy sauce duking it out with the tangy stuffing, and the fact that our salad wasn't a caesar salad because I forgot caesar dressing. I would use the wine sauce on plain pork chops again, or I would leave the stuffed pork chops alone next time. Overall, it was still a restaurant quality winner, and another one that I would recommend you trying!

Thanks for all of you who "like" our facebook page, and we'll be back soon with more Jacked Up Grilling!

Brining Liquid
1/2 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 lemon sliced
2 sprigs rosemary
1/2 cup flat leaf or italian parsley (NEVER USE CURLY PARSLEY-TASTES LIKE POOP)
4 Frest Basil leaves, smashed and torn up
lots of ground pepper
6 cups of cold water

Mix salt and sugar in 1 cup water and put in microwave until dissolved. Pour into 6 cups of water, then add 1 cup ice. Squeeze and add lemon slices, herbs and pepper, and drop in pork chops. Make sure they are submerged completely, and cover and place in refrigerator for 8 hours.

Lemon Butter Wine Scampi Sauce
3 cloves garlic,chopped
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1 lemon, juiced
1/4 cup chopped parsley (Flat leaf, we've been through this)
1 cup dry white wine (I go cheap, but that's me on many levels)
 Melt butter, saving 1 big patty to finish the sauce. Add garlic, then lemon juice and wine. Let reduce until thick. At the end, add the parsley, then the last pat of butter. Whip constantly to make it thick.

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