Saturday, April 14, 2012

April Daring Cooks Challenge...Featuring Goat Cheese-Stuffed Pork Chops With Maple-Balsamic Parsnips, Apples & Potatoes

It's that time again...time for another fun Daring Kitchen challenge!! Our April 2012 Daring Cooks hosts were David & Karen from Twenty-Fingered Cooking. They presented us with a very and unique challenge of forming our own recipe using a set list of ingredients. I LOVED this challenge, because it reminded me so much of Chopped, one of my favorite cooking shows!! We had three lists of foods, and we had to use at least one item from each list to create an original recipe.

List 1:  Parsnips, eggplant, cauliflower

List 2:  Balsamic vinegar, goat cheese, chipotle pepper

List 3:  Maple syrup, instant coffee, bananas

My immediate thought was that balsamic and maple would make a great sweet-sour glaze. But List 1 had me stumped...I'd never seen, much less cooked, a parsnip. Michael and I don't like eggplant, and Michael would sooner poke out his eyes than eat cauliflower. After a bit of research, I decided to give parsnips a try. A big part of blogging...and Daring stepping outside your comfort zone, so I was excited to try a new ingredient.

Since parsnips are a bit like carrots, I figured they would pair well with pork chops. I asked myself what else would go with pork chops...and apples immediately came to mind! I considered serving my pork chops over creamy goat cheese grits, but then decided to throw some diced red potatoes and shallots into the mix instead. I decided on the fly that the goat cheese would be fabulous stuffed into the pork chops. The goat cheese that I used is a fabulous herb chevre from CKC Farms, a fantastic vendor in nearby Blanco.

All that's needed to complete this one-dish roasted dinner is a salad on the side! This recipe evolved as I shopped, actually. As I was buying the ingredients at the market this morning, I decided that some thyme and rosemary would pair well with these flavors. I nestled two sprigs of each herb between the chops before popping the pan into the oven. 

Goat Cheese-Stuffed Pork Chops With Maple-Balsamic Parsnips, Apples & Potatoes
a Weekend Gourmet Original

Step 1:  Preheat oven to 400. Slice a deep pocket into three large bone-in pork chops (about 1.75 lbs total). Stuff about 1 tbs. of your favorite goat cheese into the pocket. Season with salt and pepper to taste, hold the pocket closed with a large toothpick or skewer, and brown in a bit of olive oil in a large non-stick skillet.

Step 2:  Add the following to a large mixing bowl: 2 peeled parsnips cut into 1-inch chunks, 2 shallots cut into quarters, 1 lb. small red potatoes cut in bite-size pieces, and one Gala apple cut into 8-10 wedges. Add 1/2 cup maple syrup and 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar and toss to coat.

Step 3:  Pour the glaze and veggies/fruit into the bottom of an oval casserole dish. Top with the three browned pork chops. Arrange two sprigs fresh thyme and two sprigs fresh rosemary in between the pork chops. 

Step 4:  Roast, uncovered, for about 45 minutes, until the vegetables are tender and the pork chops are cooked through. Let the dish rest for 5 minutes before plating. When you're ready to serve, remove the toothpick/skewer...then arrange some of the roasted apples and veggies on the plate and place a pork chop on the side.

I was very pleased with how this dish came out! The herbs in the goat cheese permeated the flavor of the chops, and I loved the creamy tang it provided. The roasted parsnips, apples, potatoes, and shallots had a sweet-tart flavor from the maple-balsamic glaze. The parsnips were pretty good...they reminded me of a starchy carrot for lack of a better description. They took on the flavor of the glaze very nicely. The rosemary and thyme flavor wasn't overpowering...they permeated everything with a lovely fragrance and background flavor! I can see myself making this frequently...I think goat cheese-stuffed chicken breasts would be wonderful as well.

If you're interested in joining the fun each month, you can join The Daring Kitchen by visiting their website and signing up. We receive our assignments around the 17th of each month, and we post our recipes on the 14th. It's one of my favorite blogging activities each month, and it always challenges me to stretch my cooking muscles in ways I hadn't thought of before! 


  1. Those porkchops look delicious...great job on this month's challenge

  2. Glad you got to try something new with the parsnips! They are similar to carrots, though I find they have a sweeter, less strong flavor. They go extremely well with cranberries, too!

    Also, your pork looks fantastic. Nice job on the challenge!


I love hearing your feedback!!!