Cookin' ATVS Style: Stuffed Pork Chops w/ Crawfish-Cornbread Dressing

Billy Gomila

Because what could be more American than stuffing meat with meat & carbs, sautéed in margarine?

This is something I've been meaning to try ever since I spotted some good, thick-cut pork chops at the store that looked good for stuffing. I figured it'd be as good a time as any to use some frozen crawfish tails I had left over from a boil back in May. The sweetness of cornbread can go well with both pork and crawfish, so I looked through a couple of different dressing recipes, then through my own crawfish etouffe one from earlier in the year, and decided to experiment a little. Some of this is based on Paul Prudhomme's oyster dressing recipe, some on some others I found online. Mainly, the key is to get the breading ratio right so that the dressing is still slightly moist, and not runny.

Both the wife and myself were very pleased with the results.

Ingredients

2-4 large pork chops, around a half-inch to an inch in thickness (Note: you'll wind up with plenty of dressing if you wanted to double the amount of pork chops.)
1 lb peeled crawfish tails (fresh or frozen)
5 cups prepared corn bread, crumbled
2 sticks margarine
1 1/2 cups diced onions
1/2 cup diced bell peppers
1/2 cup diced celery
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
2 cups chicken stock/crawfish stock (whatever you have handy)

Seasoning Mix
2 tsps kosher salt
2 tsp black pepper
1 1/2 tsps granulated garlic
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground thyme
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp rosemary leaves

Kitchen twine

Note: This was my first time with this recipe, and I would suggest adding maybe a half a teaspoon of cayenne pepper to the seasoning mix, and setting aside. In fact, upping the seasoning mix proportions by a half a teaspoon here or there wouldn't hurt. And and maybe adding 2-3 bay leaves to the vegetables when they're cooking down.

Instructions

1. Combine the seasoning mix ingredients in a small bowl and set aside. Preheat an oven to 425 degrees.

2. Use a knife to butterfly the pork chops as best you can. This can be tricky, and I'm somewhat of a novice so sadly, I don't have any tips. Season the inside and outside of the chops, either with salt/pepper/granulated garlic, your favorite Cajun seasoning or even some of the seasoning mix if you so choose, you just want to make sure you save enough for the dressing.

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3. Melt the margarine in a medium-sized Dutch oven, then add 1 cup of the onions and the bell pepper and celery. Sauté over medium high heat until wilted, then add 1 teaspoon of the seasoning mix. Continue to sauté until slightly browned, stirring steadily to prevent sticking.

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4. Add the remaining half cup of onions and the diced jalapenos. Sauté until wilted, still stirring occasionally.

5. Add the remaining seasoning mix, stirring well to incorporate.

6. Add in the crawfish tails and stock, stirring well. Increase heat until you get the liquid boiling, then reduce to simmer for about five minutes.

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7. Remove the mixture from heat, then stir in the corn bread until you have a moist, but not runny dressing.

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8. You might want to let the mixture cool a bit, but whenever you feel comfortable handling it, spoon some of the mixture into the flap you've cut in your pork chops. Anything more than 1-2 spoonfuls and the dressing will squeeze out when you close them. Tie them off with kitchen twine and place on top of the dressing in the Dutch oven.

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9. Seal the dish well (use aluminum foil if needed) and bake at 425 for about 30-45 minutes, or until the pork chops are cooked through.

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One pork chop with some dressing on the side is plenty for a person. And this makes enough dressing for 8-10 people or so.

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