September 9, 2005

Pecan Cornbread Dressing

In chorus: "Stuffing is Evil!" But luckily this ends up being a very tasty dressing and there is no making of pockets in pork chops or stuffing involved.

Pork Chops with Pecan Cornbread Dressing and Cider Gravy
adapted from Gourmet (November, 2002)

2 1/4 cups coarsely crumbled (1/2-inch pieces) corn bread
1/2 celery rib, coarsely chopped
2 shallots, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon butter
2 oz. fresh shiitakes, stems discarded and caps coarsely chopped
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup pecans, coarsely chopped and toasted
3/4 teaspoon finely chopped fresh sage
1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 center cut boneless pork chops
1/3 cup unfiltered apple cider
1/2 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons cold water

Preheat oven to 325 F.

Lightly toast corn bread in a shallow baking pan in middle of oven until dry and pale golden, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from oven.

Increase oven temperature to 375 F.

Saute celery and shallots in butter in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until softened and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in shiitakes and saute, stirring, until tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Add 1/2 cup broth and deglaze skillet by boiling, stirring and scraping up brown bits. Add corn bread, pecans, sage, parsley, and pepper and toss well, then transfer to a buttered 3-quart gratin dish or large baking pan.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in cleaned skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. Pat dry pork chops and season with salt and pepper. Brown chops, turning once, about 6 minutes total, then arrange on corn bread. Reserve skillet.

Roast chops on corn bread in middle of oven until pork is just cooked through, 18 to 22 minutes. After pork has roasted 10 minutes, pour off fat from skillet and heat skillet over moderately high heat until hot. Add cider and deglaze skillet by boiling, stirring and scraping up brown bits, then add remaining broth. Stir cornstarch mixture and add to hot cider mixture. Bring sauce to a boil, whisking constantly, then boil, whisking, 1 minute and season with salt and pepper.

Serve chops and dressing with sauce on the side.


If you don't have day-old corn-bread, you can use the following recipe for a drier version that can be baked just ahead and used as soon as it cools enough to handle.

1/2 cup yellow cornmeal (not coarse)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1/2 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Whisk together cornmeal, flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Whisk together egg, milk, and oil in another bowl, then add to cornmeal mixture and stir until just combined.

Pour batter into a greased 8- or 9-inch square baking pan and bake in middle of oven until a tester comes out clean, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool 5 minutes in pan on a rack, then turn bread out onto rack to cool completely.

This makes enough for 4 1/2 cups of crumbled cornbread (ergo, I used only half for my version of the recipe above).


Notes: In my version, there's double the cornbread dressing per pork chop, and I was pretty happy with that since I really enjoyed the mix. I think I might make a separate batch to add to the Thanksgiving table this year. For reference the next time I make this one: may replace the gravy with a reduction sauce that tastes more strongly of the cider. Found that gravy a touch too mild. Also, this is a recipe that definitely needs time to prepare. Though the steps are individually simple, there are many and the mise en place is time-consuming. Very, very good though. Will make again sometime.

Served with Rock Rabbit 2003 Sauvignon Blanc, which we found surprisingly a bit too sweet.

Posted by Jennifer at September 9, 2005 1:40 PM | TrackBack

I thought the cornbread dressing was absolutely delicious! I was less impressed with the pork chop itself though, which was rather plain, and I wasn't overly fond of the taste (not flavorful enough) or the texture of the gravy. I think replacing it with some sort of reduction sauce would solve both problems (and dress up the chop too).

Posted by: Michael at September 11, 2005 7:55 PM
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