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Joni Woolf: Gilding the lily — stuffed pork chops

As one who has usually preferred pork to beef — probably from growing up in the country and enjoying the wide variety of meats that pork provides — I am pleased whenever I’m invited up the hill to my daughter’s house to enjoy the latest pork creation. She and her husband are both excellent pork cooks; their ribs are superb examples of cooking skills. But this past weekend she went over the top with a stuffed pork chop, a creation I had never enjoyed before, and now must learn to do myself. I thought you could not improve on a plain pork chop, cooked in any number of ways. I was wrong. This stuffed pork chop was perfect in every way — tender and tasty, with several distinct flavors teasing the palate. I asked where she found the recipe and she reported that it came from the Internet, but then she changed it to suit her own taste. So, it is her recipe.  She served it with potato salad and greens (she combined collards and kale, which made a delicious green mix); I added rosemary/cheese biscuits and we had a fine dinner.

Sausage Stuffed Pork Chops
4 1-inch thick pork chops
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 fresh tomato, chopped
½ lb. raw sausage
1 teaspoon fresh thyme,
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
½ cup bread crumbs
1 egg, slightly beaten
½ cup white wine
Butterfly the pork chops (split almost in half cross-wise, not up and down) and brown in olive oil 3 to 5 minutes on each side. Saute’ onion, celery, garlic, and chopped tomato, and mix with sausage, thyme, parsley, bread crumbs, egg, and wine. Stuff this mixture into the butterflied pork chops and baste with the following mixture:
½ cup bourbon
3 tablespoons molasses
¼ cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Black pepper (to taste)
Bake at 375 degrees F. oven for approximately 45 minutes (until stuffing reaches 160 degrees F.), basting every 15 minutes. Let sit 10 minutes before serving. Delicious with a wide variety of vegetables, salads, and breads.

My friend, Charlotte Chambliss, brought me a recipe recently and said something like: “You cook this and I’ll eat it!” Well, maybe not exactly that, but I feel compelled to go out and buy a cooked ham and prepare it for dear Charlotte. It sounds easy, because the ham is already cooked; it just needs some “dressing up.” Here’s the recipe and the method. Let’s try it.

Baked Ham with a Latin Twist
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup light brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
¼ cup dark rum
¼ cup Dijon mustard
Zest and juice of one lemon
4 ounces canned crushed pineapple
1 fully cooked ham (7 pounds)
¼ cup whole cloves
Put butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon in a saucepan over medium. Bring to a simmer, stirring constantly. Cook until bubbling, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat and cool. Slowly add rum, mustard, lemon zest, and juice, and pineapple. Reserve. Remove ham from refrigerator 1 hour before roasting. Using a sharp knife, score skin in crosshatch pattern. Stud each square with a clove. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Place rack in bottom of roasting pan; place ham on rack. Roast 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 375 degrees F. and roast until center of ham reaches 148 degrees F. Turn heat to 400 degrees F.; baste ham with glaze. When center of ham reaches 155 degrees F., remove. Let ham rest 30 minutes before carving. (Total roasting time, 2 to 2 ½ hours.)
This would be a good recipe to take to a church picnic or covered dish, and enjoyed with salads, deviled eggs, and crusty bread.

Joni Woolf, a writer and editor, now lives in Schley County, having moved from her home in Macon several years ago. Contact her at indigojoni@windstream.net