{recipe} Apple Cranberry Stuffed Pork Chop

Editor’s Note: I am pleased to announce yet another fabulous ‘Community Voices’ Contributor to the FSC Roster! Swapper Jeni B, aka Pirate Jeni, is a popular food personality here in the Capital Region sharing her thoughts on her Blog, Twitter and Faceboook.. Her Tagline: Like Laura Ingalls…. with an attitude and an android device. PERFECTION!

 We first got to ‘know’ each other over a case of mistaken ‘identity’ and bonding over some banana ice cream and soon afterward she was taking Erika’s Makin’ Bacon class at The Arts Center and participating in our Food Swaps. Jeni will be here, monthly, talking MEAT. All things MEAT. MEAT MEAT MEAT. First up, Apple Cranberry Stuffed Pork Chop. Yum. Welcome Jeni! -Christina

For many years, cuts of meat and the parts of the animals that they come from were a mystery to me.   In fact, when I told my mom that I was going to be writing about meat, she laughed.  Then she reminded me of how I used to be freaked out by touching raw chicken. I guess I’ve come a long way, but I still have a lot to learn.  To help me get a better handle on what I was cooking, I recently took advantage of the “Behind the Meat Counter” class that the Culinary Institute of America offers for food enthusiasts.

I was one of three women there… and of the other two, one worked for the college and the other was there with her boyfriend.    Sadly, I was not surprised. When I told my friends and family that I was super excited to take a class on meat butchery, they were perplexed. Why, they wanted to know, would one do this?  The meat is already cut up for you in the store.  Sure, they could see MEN taking the class… after all men love meat.  Meat, meat, meat.  Eating meat is MANLY.  Meat is not for delicate dainty flowers.


I love meat and I am far from manly.   I don’t know where this idea that knowing how to identify and fabricate meat cuts should be relegated to men came from, but I hope my posts on meat will encourage and inspire more women to get excited about fabricating and cooking meat.

Class was fantastic.  It was taught by a third generation butcher and wowser,  did I learn a lot.  One of the many things we did in class was to break down a whole pork loin.  We cut it down into two roasts, some cutlets and some nice thick boneless chops. For the record, I had no idea that boneless chops came from the loin. It was like a light bulb went off in my head.

I’ll confess, by then I was pretty tired so I cut some seriously thick chops.  Like two inches thick. They were so thick that Chef showed me how to cut a pocket into them to stuff with wondrous things.

We went home with all of the cuts we fabricated so I had to come up with something to do with those giant chops.

So I stuffed them.

I stuffed them with apples and cranberries and walnuts and they were fantastic.

It’s easy to overcook pork loin since there is only fat on the outside and none running through the muscle itself.  These chops are seared and then simmered in apple cider and chicken stock to help keep them moist.  Resist the urge to cut the fat off before cooking.   Fat is flavor.

Finding thick cut boneless pork chops can be challenging, so you may need to ask your butcher to cut them for you.  I like mine about 2 ½ inches thick but 2 inches would be thick enough for this recipe.



  • 4 – 6 thick cut boneless pork chops (about three pounds)
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • ½ medium red onion, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 firm apple, diced (Granny Smith, Honey Crisp, Gala, and Pink Lady are all good choices)
  • 1 cup walnut halves  (can be omitted if  allergic)
  • 3 fresh sage leaves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons of lard (butter or oil will also work if you aren’t as pork-obsessed as I am. Seriously, I might have a problem)
  • 1 cup of apple cider
  • 1 cup of chicken stock


  • Lightly toast the walnut halves in a dry skillet.  If you find this step too fussy, go ahead and skip it. I won’t tell.  Chop the walnuts.
  • Melt one tablespoon of your cooking fat of choice (LARD!) in a large skillet over medium heat.
  • Saute the onions and garlic until just soft.  Add the cranberries, apple and sage.  Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the apples bits are tender but not mushy. Stir in the walnuts and set aside to cool.  (Filling can be made a day ahead. We’re all busy.)

  • Cut a pocket into each chop.  It’s actually pretty simple.  Slide your knife into the short end, parallel to the chop.  Slowly pull the knife in a semi-circular motion while pulling it out.   Try to follow the shape of the chop, cutting within ½ inch of the edge of the chop. Turn the knife over and repeat on the other side.

  • Once the filling is cooled, stuff the chops.  Use your hands because that is the only way that is going to happen.  Really shove it in there.  If you get a blowout, don’t worry about it.  It’ll be fine.    Use a toothpick to hold it together if you have to, and next time, don’t cut quite so close to the edge.  Salt and pepper both sides of the chops.  Discard any leftover filling because you’ve had your porky hands in there.

  • In a deep skillet, melt the other  tablespoon of fat over medium high heat.  Place each chop in the skillet and cook for about 4-6 minutes on each side, depending on how thick your chops are. Get a nice brown sear on there.
  • Add the chicken stock and cider to the skillet.  Heat to boiling, cover and reduce heat to medium low. Cook for about 15 minutes.
  • Remove the chops from the skillet and turn heat to high. Reduce the liquid until it’s thickened.  If you want to be fancy, you could strain the bits out, but I like the bits.  Add a little more salt and pepper if you like.
  • Slice the chops so you can see your beautiful handiwork and drizzle a little sauce on top.

AKA Pirate Jeni

As a child, Jeni fell in love with the Little House on the Prairie books, mostly because of all the wonderful things that were made at home from the simplest ingredients. Most weekends, Jeni can be found in her kitchen creating the basics for future meals. Culturing cheese and yogurt, breaking down larger cuts of meat into usable portions or for future grinding, fermenting cabbage, preserving fruits and veggies or dehydrating snacks of any variety keep her busy pretty much all weekend. When not involved in culinary pursuits, she enjoys knitting, crocheting, spinning and sewing as hobbies. She lives in Albany with her partner of 11 years, their two bullmastiffs and one ol’ cat who will outlive them all. Find her on her blog, Pirate Jeni.


12 Comments Add yours

  1. piratejeni says:

    Yay! thanks so much for posting my recipe.. and, true to form, I have used a wrong word. When I say “perpendicular”, I totally mean “parallel”. *facepalm*

    1. Christina says:

      Fixed. No need for the *facepalm* So glad to have you aboard!

      1. piratejeni says:

        Thanks!! I do it least once in every blog post.. I was sure I caught them all here.

  2. Deanna says:

    So happy that Pirate Jeni is here with us! She’s a hoot. And she’s got some pretty awesome skills.

    I learned about meat from spending year after year helping my family/friends break down entire deer for cuts of venison (we are big hunters). Occasionally we would butcher a whole hog, chickens, or whole cow that was raised on our farm, but more often than not they were sent to a local slaughter house (after being dispatched on our farm). I’m still not sure why, maybe just all the work?

    I can’t wait to make this recipe! I love a stuffed pork chop and don’t make them at home as much as I would like to.

    1. piratejeni says:

      Dude.. it’s a LOT of work. And it does take a lot of skill. I am such a n00b at meat cutting but I find it very exciting. You should have seen me squeel for joy when I Frenched a rack all by myself.

      In that CIA class, as a group we broke down a shoulder clod. It’s big.. and I mean BIG. You wanna see skills? Watch a long time butcher in action.

      When it comes to whole beast butchery, I would leave that to the professionals, however, I don’t see any reason why a home cook can’t buy a whole pork loin and cut it down. 15 minutes and done.

      And thank you for the compliment. I keep hearing how I have all these skills, but really all I have is a willingness to learn and an ability to learn from mistakes. Anyone with an interest can do what I do.

      1. We’ve bought half a pig from a local farm a couple of times and while the meat was great, the butchery left something to be desired. (and to the imagination… some of the cuts we received have never made an appearance in any kind of professional kitchen.) You are almost inspiring me to take delivery of the whole half-hog next time and do it myself. I said almost.

        1. Jeni B says:

          I would love to get my hands on half a pig. But I’d hate to spend the money and botch the job. I’m pretty handy with a knife but some of those corners and bits are tricky.

  3. Gina M says:

    YAY! Hi Jeni!! Great looking recipe. I have a freezer full of Gloucester Old Spot, and I’m not afraid to use it 😀

    1. Jeni B says:

      Those are some seriously cute piggies.

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