Saturday, April 21, 2012

My hairdresser's pork chops

I love my hairdresser.  I've had the same one for about 12 years.  That's not because I fear change, it's because I fear mediocrity.  She's very good at what she does.  She makes me look like a million bucks and I get compliments on my hair all the time.  OK, so now you know I'm very vain.

The other reason I love my hairdresser is because she's been very supportive and excited about The Voluptuous Table and all its events.  I often take appetizers and cocktails by my hairdresser's shop on a Friday afternoon for her and the other staff there to taste-test.  That's been a lot of fun; it's also been really helpful.  I'll tell you this: those ladies like to Par-Tay!

My hairdresser and her husband also love to cook and she recently shared a recipe idea with me that I had to go home and try:  Garlic and Jalapeno Cream Cheese-Stuffed Pork Chops.  She told me how to make them and added that she usually buys Philly garlic cream cheese, then adds strips of jalapenos when she's ready to stuff the chops.  Easy enough.

Of course, I wanted to make my own garlic-jalapeno cream cheese filling.  It was pretty spicy, but by the time you had a bite of grilled pork chop with the cream cheese and the bacon that's wrapped around the chop, everything came together in a very nice way.  So this is how I did it:

Garlic and Jalapeno Cream Cheese-Stuffed Pork Chops

8 oz. Philadelphia cream cheese (or use neufchatel), softened
2 cloves garlic, minced (or use 1/2 to 1 tsp. garlic powder)
1 jalapeno, stemmed, seeded and minced
kosher salt to taste
4 extra-thick boneless pork chops 
8 extra-thick slices bacon
a small amount of cooking oil, optional
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

1.  Mix together the cream cheese, garlic, jalapeno and salt.  Blend well and set aside.
2.  With a sharp knife, make a pocket in each pork chop to hold the cream cheese mixture.  You can also butterfly the chops if you have plenty of toothpicks to secure the edges before cooking.
3.  Stuff each pork chop generously with the cream cheese mixture.  If you don't use it all, never fear.  It's great stirred into warm pasta for another meal.
4.  Close up the pork chops and secure all open edges well with toothpicks.
5.  Wrap 2 slices of bacon around the edges of each chop, overlapping as necessary and securing with more toothpicks.
6.  If the chops are very lean, you may want to rub them with a little cooking oil.
7.  Season the chops with plenty of salt and freshly ground black pepper.
8.  Grill or broil until chops reach desired doneness and they are nicely caramelized on the outside, about 5 minutes per side.  Serves four.

What should you drink with these porkchops?  I sipped an off-dry rose of Malbec, mostly because it's rose weather; ask your wine guy for a good one because there are several out there.  You could also choose a Rhone-style red.  You'll need something fruity and off-dry to balance the heat of the jalapeno and your choice could be a more-spare wine since the meat is not too rich.  Also consider a lighter, less oaky Zinfandel or even a dry Merlot.

May your tastebuds always encounter the beautiful!

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