Stuff It...

It's been a hard week for me, as I face down my looming unemployment at the end of the week. I'm scared of what the future holds, and sad that an era of my life is ending, and emotions are high. I haven't felt like doing much of anything, much less making dinner, and thankfully, Justin has been picking up the slack in that department. Tonight, when I came home from work and headed straight to bed for a good cry, Justin put together the filling for some stuffed pork chops that I had entered into our weekly meal plan back at the beginning of the week, when I was feeling better and more up to the task of fixing a week of proper dinners.

Andouille sausage had been on sale at the store, so I stocked up and scoured Pinterest for the myriad recipes I had saved that called for it. Though I've not been particularly successful at either pork chops (they always end up overcooked, burnt, and dry in my kitchen) or stuffed meat dishes (where the meat dries out before the stuffing reaches a safe temperature to eat), I never seem to learn my lesson when it comes to cooking and selected a recipe for stuffed pork chops. 

The meat needed to be cooked, and since I was in no shape to do it, Justin made the filling while I wallowed in bed. I managed to peel myself up in time to cut a pocket in the meat for the filling, stuff them, and finish the cooking. While they were probably the best pork chops I've made to date (they were perfectly golden brown and not burnt), and the filling was pleasantly nutty and a little spicy, there was something missing with this dish. I think it begged for some sort of sauce, not necessarily because it was dry (though it could have been juicier), but mostly because it needed some other flavor component on the plate. A little gravy, or pan sauce would have fit the bill nicely.

Then again, feeling as down as I was, it's likely that I wouldn't have been rhapsodic about anything we would have made for dinner tonight. With a little sauce for added interest, I'd be willing to give this recipe another go when I'm feeling more up to properly appreciating it.

Pork Chops with Andouille and Pecan Stuffing
Adapted from A Farm Girl's Dabbles

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3 oz. andouille sausage, finely chopped
1/2 c. finely chopped onion
1/4 c. finely chopped celery
1/4 c. finely chopped carrot
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1/3 c. finely chopped pecans
2 tablespoons dry bread crumbs
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried parsley
pinch of cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 pork rib chops that are 1'' thick

1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large cast iron skillet (or other heavy oven-safe skillet) over medium heat. Add the andouille and brown for 2 minutes. Stir well and add the onion, celery, and carrots, and cook for 2 more minutes. Add garlic. Stir and cook until onion is translucent and softened. Scrape into a medium bowl and then add the pecans, bread crumbs, thyme, parsley, cayenne, salt, and pepper. Mix well.
2. Preheat oven to 350°.
3. With a sharp knife, cut a deep wide pocket in each chop. Divide the stuffing evenly between the 4 chops and pack into each pocket. Sprinkle both sides of chops with a little kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
4. Heat the same cast iron skillet again over medium high heat. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. When the oil is hot and shimmering, add the chops. Sauté until browned, 4 minutes per side. Then immediately transfer the whole skillet with the chops to the oven. Bake for 7 minutes. This should yield an internal pork chop temperature of about 140°. Pull the skillet out of the oven and let rest on the stove top for a bit, until the temperature rises to 145°.

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