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Corn Bread-Stuffed Pork Chops

This is about as Dixie as you can get. The keys to success are to buy good-quality country-style breakfast sausage and to make your own corn bread. When grilling the pork, combine direct and indirect heat for the best result: a nicely seared exterior and a juicy interior.

Ingredients:

For the corn bread stuffing:

  • 1/2 lb. bulk breakfast sausage
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp. dried sage
  • 2 cups cubed day-old corn bread, homemade (see related recipe at left) or store-bought
  • 1/2 cup apple cider
  •  
  • 6 bone-in rib pork chops, each about 10 oz. and 1 1/4 inches thick
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • Canola oil for brushing

Directions:

To make the stuffing, crumble the sausage in a large fry pan. Set over medium-high heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 4 minutes. Add the onion, celery and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are wilted, about 4 minutes. Add the butter, sage and corn bread, and stir and toss to combine evenly. Add the apple cider, mix well and cook slowly until the corn bread begins to soften, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool.

About 30 minutes before you are ready to begin grilling, remove the pork chops from the refrigerator.

Prepare a charcoal or gas grill for indirect grilling over medium heat; the temperature inside the grill should be 350º to 375ºF. If using charcoal, bank the lit coals on either side of the grill bed, leaving a strip in the center without heat, and place a drip pan in the center. If using gas, preheat the burners, then turn off 1 or more of the burners to create a cooler zone. Brush and oil the grill grate.

Using a small, sharp knife, cut a horizontal slit about 3 inches long in the center of the fat-rimmed edge of each chop, cutting to within about 1 inch of the bone to create a pocket. Divide the stuffing evenly among the 6 chops, packing it into each pocket. Secure each pocket closed with a toothpick or kitchen twine. Season the chops generously on both sides with salt and pepper and brush on both sides with oil.

Place the chops on the grill over the direct-heat area and sear, turning once, until nicely grill-marked, about 4 minutes per side. Move the chops to the indirect-heat area and cook until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the chops registers about 155ºF, about 10 minutes more.

Transfer the chops to a platter, cover loosely with aluminum foil and let rest for 10 minutes. Remove the toothpicks or snip the twine and serve the chops immediately. Serves 6.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Grill Master, by Fred Thompson (Weldon Owen, 2011).