6 bone-in ribeye (rib) pork chops, about 12 ounces each (double-thick)
2 cups apple cider vinegar
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup sea salt
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1/2 gallon ice water
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound smoked Spanish chorizo, diced
2 medium celery, finely chopped
1/3 cup dates, pitted and finely chopped
2 tablespoons shallot, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced
2 teaspoons fresh sage, minced
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 cup (4 ounces) Manchego cheese, or sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
To taste sea salt & fresh ground black pepper
To brine pork chops: Bring vinegar, brown sugar, salt, mustard, and peppercorns to a simmer over medium heat, stirring to dissolve salt. Do not inhale fumes. Transfer to large, deep food-safe container. Let cool until tepid. Stir in iced water. Submerge chops in brine. Refrigerate for 3 hours, no longer.
To make stuffing: Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add chorizo and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add celery, dates, and shallot, and cook, stirring often, until celery is tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in parsley, sage, and paprika. Transfer to a bowl and let cool completely. Stir in cheese and season with salt and pepper.
Remove chops from brine, rinse under cold water, and blot dry with paper towels. Cut a horizontal pocket in each chop to the bone using a sharp knife. Spoon equal amounts of stuffing into each chop, and close each opening shut with wooden toothpicks. Do not overstuff the chops; you may not use all of the filling.
Prepare a medium fire in an outdoor grill. (For a gas grill, preheat to about 400ºF. For a charcoal grill, let the coals burn until covered with white ash and you can hold your hand about an inch above the cooking grate for 3 seconds.) Brush cooking grates clean. Grill pork, with the lid closed as much as possible, turning occasionally, until an instant-read thermometer inserted horizontally into the center of a chop reads 145ºF, about 15 minutes. Remove from the grill and let stand for 3 to 5 minutes.
Remove toothpicks and serve.
Makes 6 servings
In the U.S., stuffed pork chops usually have a breadcrumb filling. This Spanish treatment calls for a unique and flavorful stuffing of spicy chorizo, sweet dates, and Manchego cheese, a sharp cheese from the La Mancha region of Spain. Alternatively use local, affordable cheddar if Manchego is unavailable.
Recipe courtesy of Grand Champion of the popular cooking competition, “Chopped” and recent winner of “Iron Chef America” — Chef Madison Cowan on behalf of the National Pork Board