Monday, May 19, 2014

Pork Chops Stuffed with Kale and Apricots

Kale & Apricot Stuffed Pork Chops

















These kale and apricot stuffed pork chops are the perfect way to elevate basic pork chops into a dish of luxury.  The filling for these juicy chops is a riff on a classic Italian preparation of sautéed greens with pine nuts, raisins and balsamic vinegar giving it a sweet and sour flavor that brilliantly cuts through the richness of the meat.

I've wavered from the classic dish with apricots replacing the raisins because apricots have always been a perfect pairing for pork.  And pumpkin seeds stand in for the pine nuts here because that’s what I had in the house.  Plus they’re about half the price of their coniferous cousin.  But if I were doing this for a holiday or upscale dinner vs a weeknight meal, I’d spring for the pine nuts. 

Now I do have a word of caution for parents everywhere.  Despite the deliciousness of this gourmet plate, my daughter was less than thrilled with what she called, the desecration of a perfectly good pork chop.  She would have preferred her pork less “all that junk”.  But I can’t let her narrow pallet deter me from having a fantastic meal once in a while.
  
Kale and Apricot Stuffed Pork Chops
Prep time: 20 min
Cook time: 25 min

Ingredients
  • (4) 8 oz pork chops (trimmed boneless center cut chops about 1 ¼” thick)
  • 10 dried apricots
  • ½ cup pumpkin seeds (or pine nuts)
  • 1 small bunch kale
  • 1 cup fresh gluten free breadcrumbs
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar (or cider vinegar)
  • 1 beaten egg
  • ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper

Video Tutorial




Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 °F (or 220 °C).
  2. To prep the pork chops, using a sharp knife, starting on the edge with the fat, slice them open almost to the other side but be careful not to slice through.
  3. To make that filling, soak the apricots for 10 minutes in warm water then drain and chop them into pieces slightly larger than raisins.
  4. Toast the pumpkin seeds for about 2 minutes in a dry pan over a medium heat to bring out a nuttier flavor then add them to the bowl with the apricots. 
  5. Rinse the kale, remove the stems, chop into small pieces and sauté with a tablespoon of olive oil, garlic and some salt and pepper for 8 to 10 minutes or until the kale is wilted with a few crispy bits.
  6. Add the kale to the bowl with the apricots and seeds then add the fresh bread crumbs, balsamic vinegar, egg, red pepper flakes and salt and pepper to taste then stir to combine.
  7. Place ¼ of the mixture into the center of each pork chop, tie each one with 2 pieces of butchers twine to make them manageable and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  8. In a cast iron skillet over a medium high heat add a tablespoon of olive oil and a tablespoon of butter then add the pork chops to the pan and let them saute for 4 or 5 minutes to develop a golden brown crust then turn them over.
  9. Immediately after turning them, place the pan in the preheated oven to finish cooking through completely.
  10. When it comes, remove from the hot pan onto your serving plate and let it rest for at least 5 minutes before serving.  For a fancier presentation you can slice each chop into 4 or 5 pieces and fan them out on the plate after the rest time. 

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