I had had such nice plans of grilling this pork originally, but I ended up baking it instead. I admit it, I wussed out. The heat index was 105 degrees, and that was just too much for me. I thought to even at least start them on the grill, or finish them on the grill, but I let that thought fly right back out of my head when I opened the back door and that rush of heat about knocked me over! Literally! 105??!!! Ouch. That’s just too much for me. But I did gain a little courage and go ahead and cut it all up into thick chops complete with pockets! I don’t know why, but I always think that cutting up a beautiful large piece of meat is just wrong. It really isn’t though, I mean, after you roast it, you’re going to slice it into serving pieces anyways, right? Well, that’s what I told myself, too. It was a 4.75 lb. boneless pork loin roast, and I cut it in half, then sliced each half into 3 equal pieces. I then made nice large pockets in each one to hold all of the stuffing. The original plan had been to not over fill them, toothpick them closed, and grill them, but I decided to leave them standing up and just overfill and use all of the stuffing instead. They came out spectacular! So all was not lost at all! (Although I’m still dreaming of grilling them sometime! Next time! 😉 ) I did cheat on the stuffing a bit, though. I tried the new Betty Crocker brand of Cornbread Stuffing and it was pretty darned good! Since I was planning on adding all kinds of goodies, I didn’t think a little help in the kitchen was such a terrible thing. Though the box said it had celery and onions, I couldn’t imagine them being anything more than tiny unrecognizable little bits, so I went ahead and sautéed some onions and celery in a little butter for good measure. Added the ingredients the mix called for, brought it up to a boil with the chopped up broccoli, then stirred in the crumb pieces and the rest of my goodies, and wa-lah! All in one pan, too! While the stuffing set aside to set up and cool, I prepped the pork, trimming away the extra fat first, and made nice large pockets. (I tasted the stuffing and wanted to fit every bit in there!) The amount was perfect. Spot on. They looked gorgeous and professional before even going into the oven!
During baking, 2 of mine did fall over, so with that in mind, you can support them with little balls of foil on each side of them. I didn’t think to do that, but I had one that had fallen over and it was perfectly fine! Just don’t sandwich them in a dish, leave space around each one so that the sides can get nicely done. See how happy they look? Even the celery is “smiling”!
And that really is about all there is to it! I started them as is, tented with foil during the middle time, then removed it during the last 15-20 minutes when I drizzled them with apricot preserves. The stuffing had a very light, delicate crunch just on the very outside, not hard and over-done, and the chops were juicy and oh so tender!! Maybe it was fate to bake these instead of grilling? We’ll never know, but these are a no-fret, jaw dropping, company-worthy main dish that I would be proud to serve to guests! So if you do decide to grill these you can do either of two ways. Either use less stuffing and toothpick closed well, or, over-stuff and leave standing upright and do these in foil packets! “Bake” on the grill in individual foil packets rolled closed at the top, then *CAREFULLY with tongs to safely release any steam, open them and drizzle them with the melted apricot preserves, and then just leave packets open to finish. I think either way would work perfectly fine. But no matter which cooking method you choose, you’re really going to enjoy these! They honestly couldn’t be easier and what a beautiful and colorful presentation! Enjoy and have a wonderful day!
OVER-STUFFED APRICOT-GLAZED PORK CHOPS with CORNBREAD, BROCCOLI, BACON, CHEDDAR & WHITE SHOEPEG CORN STUFFING
For the Stuffing:
1 – 6 oz. box Betty Crocker Homestyle Cornbread Stuffing Mix
2 Tbl. butter
1/2 of a medium onion, diced
1 rib celery, sliced
3/4 – 1 cup fresh broccoli florets, chopped
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 stick butter
1/2 cup white shoe peg corn
3 strips crisp-cooked bacon, snipped into small pieces
1 cup shredded extra-sharp cheddar
Rest of Ingredients:
1 (4 1/2 – 5 lb.) boneless pork loin roast, fat trimmed
salt and pepper to season
3-4 Tbl. apricot preserves, jelly or jam, melted
In medium to large saucepan, melt 2 Tbl. butter and saute celery and onions until crisp-tender. Stir in chopped broccoli, water and half a stick of butter and bring to a boil. Stir in corn and bacon and turn off heat. Dump in cornbread mix and top with cheese. Fold all together until just mixed, cover and set aside for 5 minutes. Fluff with fork, transfer to a cool bowl and place in fridge to cool down covered with a sheet of paper towel to absorb steam.
While stuffing is chilling down, trim fat from pork loin roast. Slice in half downwards, then slice each half into 3 slices, also downwards, making 6 thick-cut chops. (*A smaller roast can be used and cut into 3-4 thick-cut pieces if preferred. Just serve any extra stuffing on the side.)
Cut a nice, deep slit/pocket into each chop and spread open a little as you go. Don’t cut all the way through to the bottom and don’t cut all the way to the edges. Season inside and out with a little salt and pepper to taste. Place on foil-lined baking sheet. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Fill and over-stuff chops with stuffing, pop into preheated 350 degree oven, and bake for 15 minutes to set stuffing. Tent with sprayed foil (underside so it doesn’t stick to stuffing), and continue baking for another 30 minutes. Remove foil, drizzle with melted apricot preserves that have been melted in a small bowl in the microwave and stirred to melt, and bake another 15-20 minutes. *Can serve with rest of corn if using from a can, and a nice, cool salad.