Last week I caught my food muse, Chef Dina Nikolaou serve up a baked pork chop stuffed with peppers and Graviera cheese and I knew I just had to try this dish…with my own personal touches. I knew that I had to translate this into a grilled dish – it’s BBQ season. Roasted red peppers were also a must and as for the Graviera cheese, I had some pieces leftover in my fridge. Graviera is a firm, white Greek cheese that’s slightly briny and made of mostly sheep’s milk (with some goat’s milk sneaking in).
Graviera is very popular, found all over Greece and enjoyed by many as it’s also very versatile. It can be fried (Saganaki), grated, served as a table cheese, grated, baked and in the end, it holds up well over heat. The most well-known as sought-after Graviera comes from the islands of Crete and Naxos.
Most of you know I often also make suggestions about substituting Greek ingredients you may not find in your area but now I’ve made sourcing Greek specialty ingredients easier for you! I have partnered with Christos Marketplace in Boston, are delighted to serve the readers of Kalofagas and their Greek shopping needs.
Christos Marketplace offers mail-order to both Canada and the US with only cheeses and dairy being limited to being sent just inside the US. Need some Graviera cheese? Christos Marketplace will vacuum-pack and ship any quantity your family orders. I’m delighted that many of you can now have more of those authentic Greek flavours, wherever you may be.
Now that you can get Graviera cheese, we can set off to stuff and grill these thick pork chops. Since these chops are thick, I decided to also brine the pork chops for a couple of hours. Much like brining a turkey (only less time required), this step helps the meat retain the moisture and it will also add some subtle flavours to your meat. A basic ratio for your brining solution is 1 Tbsp. of salt, 1 Tbsp. of sugar for every cup of water. Add the salt and sugar to hot water, allow to dissolve and cool and then add your meat.
You may also add other flavours to your brine. In this case, I used Montreal Steak seasoning . Try out some of your own flavours! A few words of caution: do not brine the pork chops for more than a couple of hours as your meat will break down too much and it may become too salty. When bringing your pork chops back to room temperature, rinse well under cold water and pat dry. You will only need to lightly season your meat.
This recipe needs an thick pork chop (preferably bone-in), some roasted red peppers (I always have some frozen), Graviera cheese (you know where to get that now) and some roasted garlic. Roasted garlic is very easy: take a whole head of garlic and just cut the very top off. Place in some aluminum foil, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle a little coarse salt and wrap-up. Place in a pre-heated 350F oven for about 30 minutes and turn the oven off. Allow to cool and unwrap. You should be able to squeeze out this soft, butter-like garlic paste.
Worthy of also noting are the side dishes I served with these succulent stuffed pork chops: I diced some peeled potatoes, tossed them with a couple of tablespoons of leftover Tzatziki, some olive oil, chopped scallions and topped with some crumbled Feta cheese. I wrapped them with foil and placed in a pre-heated oven for 30-40 minutes.
The vegetable of the mean was some grilled green beans….yes grilled! The beans were cleaned and blanched in boiling seasoned water for about 5 minutes and then shocked in a bath of ice water. I then tossed the beans in some olive oil, salt and pepper and carefully arranged them on the grill. You could also used those grill baskets but I didn’t….grilling without a net! While grilling, I grilled half a small red onion until charred and caramelized and when finally soft, I separated the onion rings and tossed them with the grilled beans. A wonderful summer side dish.
So, we have grilled extra-thick and stuffed pork chops that were brined, we’ve got a stuffing of roasted red peppers, roasted garlic and Graviera cheese, I told you have to make a BBQ packette of diced potatoes with Tzatziki, scallions and Feta and you know how to grill some green beans with some panache. The only thing left to do? Let’s cook!
Extra-Thick Pork Chop Stuffed with Roasted Red Peppers & Graviera
4 thick bone-in pork chops (ask for center-cut)
4 pieces of roasted red peppers, skins peeled and seeded
1/2 cup grated Graviera cheese
some olive oil
coarse sea salt
fresh ground pepper
dried Greek oregano
grilled lemons for garnish
3 cups of hot water
3 Tbsp. of sea salt (today I used Montreal steak seasoning)
3 Tbsp. of sugar
- In a large bowl, add your hot water along with the salt and sugar. Stir until dissolved and allow the water to cool before adding the meat. Transfer the brine into a large zip-lock bag and add your pork chops and seal. Place in your fridge for two hours. Remove the meat from the brine (discard the brine). Rinse your pork chops well under cold water and pat-dry.
- Using a sharp knife, make a cut into the side of the chop (opposite of the bone). Measure the surface of your pork chop and trim the roasted red peppers to double the pork’s surface area. Squeeze 3-4 cloves of roasted garlic into each piece of red pepper and top with about 2 Tbsp. of grated Graviera cheese. Now fold the red pepper over to form a sandwich. Now open the cavity you formed in the pork chop and insert the open-ended part of the stuffed red pepper facing into the pork chop. Repeat for each pork chop (this step will minimalize the cheese from oozing out).
- Pinch the top and bottom parts of your chop over the filling and secure with 2 or 3 toothpicks. Rub both sides of your pork with a little of olive oil and seasoning lightly with coarse sea salt and fresh ground pepper. Pre-heat your gas or charcoal grill. We are looking for a medium heat, your goal is to be able to place your hand over the heat and count to about five – you have a medium heat. Brush the grill surface and wipe the grill-top with some paper towel treated with vegetable oil.
- Place your pork chops on the grill and cook for about 6-7 minutes a side or until juices run clear and there is no evidence of blood on the bone. In the meantime, you may also halve two lemons, brush with oil and also place on the grill. Grilled lemons are a perfect complement to grilled pork, chicken or fish.
- Remove your pork chops and carefully take out the toothpicks. Sprinkle with some dried Greek oregano, served with a grilled lemon, BBQ’s potatoes with Feta and your grilled green beans. I suggest pairing this dish with a fruity rose, like this Dio Fili Rose from Siatista, northern Greece (Macedonia).
If you are not reading this post in a feed reader or at http://kalofagas.ca then the site you are reading is illegally publishing copyrighted material. Contact me at truenorth67 AT gmail DOT COM. All recipes, text and photographs in this post are the original creations & property of the author.
© 2007-2010 Peter Minakis
. All rights reserved.