Apple, Bacon, and Pecan Stuffed Pork Chops in the slow cooker (a Paelopot recipe)

Recipe taken from paleopot.com(Sorry for the terrible pic!  My camera autofocused on the wrong part of the plate. And the colors are weird. How do you food bloggers get such great pictures at dinnertime?)

Crockpot meals definitely make life easier.  Too bad, then, that so many crockpot recipes turn out to be duds.  This one was unsuccessful (see my report below), but it might be salvageable with thicker chops, lower cooking time, or some combination of the two.  The flavor combination here has the potential to be terrific.

The Recipe

Ingredients

4 large pork chops
4 large strips of bacon (chopped into postage size stamps)
2 medium granny smith apples (peeled & diced into large chunks)
1 medium head of garlic (smashed and chopped into large pieces
1 cup pecans (raw, unsalted)
1 large sweet onion (sliced into large rings or half rings)
1 lemon
1 tbsp Spanish paprika (optional)
4-8 regular wooden toothpicks

Directions

1) Slice deep pockets into the side of each pork chop (don’t puncture sides or back)

2) Stuffing: Place chopped bacon into a preheated skillet; cook to ~80% done.  Stir in diced apples, almonds, and garlic, making sure all items are covered in bacon grease.  (For extra heat/color/flavor, add 1 tbsp Spanish paprika).  Cook until bacon is 95% done, then remove from heat with a slotted spoon, to leave bacon grease in the pan.  Set aside while onions cook.

3) Onions: Add onions to the pan in order to cover with bacon drippings, then remove from heat.  (This step is not intended to cook the onions.) Cover the bottom of your crock pot with half of the onions, then set the rest aside.

4) Stuff the chops as full as possible with bacon mixture, using wooden tooth picks to seal opening.  Place chops on the bed of onions, cover with remaining stuffing mix, then place the rest of your onions on top.

5) Cook on low heat for 8 hours.  As with most slow cooker recipes, you can cut this time in half by cooking on high for 4 hours; on high for 2 hours and low for ~4 hours; etc.

6) When chops are finished and plated, top with a generous amount of lemon zest.

Anna’s Report

Verdict:  Well, I have a very mixed report.  I thought these were pretty terrible, while my husband loved them and rates them as one of his favorite dishes thus far.  I found them dry (overcooked), and the stuffing ingredients had lost their individual tastes and textures.  I will probably make this again because my husband loved it so much, but I will definitely make some adjustments (since I found it utterly unpalatable).

Adjustments to the Recipe:

  • The recipe isn’t specific as to whether the chops should be thick or thin.  I used thin pork chops (~1/2″ – 3/4″)
  • 1 head of garlic seemed like way too much, so I used 4 cloves
  • I didn’t use the optional paprika, and I forgot all about the lemon

Next time:

  • I will either use the thicker pork chops, or else I will shorten the overall cook time.
  • The ingredients release about 1/2 – 1 cup of liquid, which left a watermark on the chops.  I suspect the onion layer is intended to help minimize this, but it might be worth finding some additional vegetables to layer down there.  Alternatively, I might add 1/2 – 1 cup of chicken broth.

Update (October 2012)

I tried this again, using thicker pork chops, ultra-thick slices of onion as a bed for the chops (with none on top), and cooking for 2 hours on high and 1.5 hours on low.  We found that the pork was less dried-out, but my husband noticed it more because of the extra thickness of the meat.  The insides were still seriously overcooked, with the tastes indistinguishable from one another (if I try this yet again, I don’t think I’ll do more than toss the apples & pecans in the bacon grease).

In sum: think this combination of ingredients holds great promise, but I’m not convinced that the slow cooker is the right way to cook a pork chop.  (Pulled pork or carnitas, on the other hand…yum!)  I think I’ll try this oven-based recipe next, with pecans in a few to see how they work:  http://paleoparents.com/2011/stuffed-pork-chops/

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