When fig season arrives, I enjoy eating the sweet, fresh fruit out of my hand. Figs are such an interesting fruit, being rather squat and ugly on the outside yet beautiful on the inside. A perfect example of not judging a book by its cover.
California Mission figs are my favorite type of fig, with their purple-black skin and deep red flesh. The Mission fig got its name from the Spanish Missionaries that planted them as they traveled up the California coast from Mexico. Although there is an abundance of green fig trees all over the neighborhood, you usually have to fight the birds, squirrels and possums to harvest and eat them.
While the flavors of figs, cheese and pork may seem strange and off putting at first, it is actually a savory blend of sweet, sharp and rich. Many years ago I developed a recipe for fig and Gorgonzola cheese stuffed pork tenderloin, that was stunning with its intensity of flavors. This recipe is a variation on that recipe, using Cambozola cheese instead of Gorgonzola cheese. Cambozola cheese is a soft triple cream Camembert like cheese with Gorgonzola blue dispersed in it. The cheese is at once ultra rich, buttery and creamy, with the added sharp tang from the blue cheese. A perfect combination.
Panko Crusted Fig and Cheese Stuffed Pork Chops
4 bone in center cut pork loin chops
salt and pepper to taste
4-6 fresh figs, preferably Mission, cut into small pieces
Approximately 1 cup sliced Cambozolo cheese
3/4 – 1 cup all purpose flour
1 egg, beaten with a small amount of water
1 cup panko bread crumbs
Place your chops onto a cutting board. Season the on both sides with salt and pepper. With a sharp knife, cut a pocket into the chop starting from the end farthest from the bone. Cut carefully through the middle of the chop, almost to the bone. This is called butterflying the meat.
Place a small amount of chopped figs onto the open pork chop.
Top the figs with a generous amount of sliced cheese, pressing down slightly.
Close the top flap of the pork chop, pulling slightly if needed to close the seam.
Place the flour, egg mixture and panko breadcrumbs each into a shallow dish. My favorite pan for breading is an old pie tin. Thank you Marie Callender’s! Have a baking sheet lightly sprayed with nonstick cooking spray ready. Coat the pork chops with flour, being sure to pat off any excess.
Next, dip the pork chop into the egg mixture.
Finally, press a good coating of panko breadcrumbs onto the pork chop. I usually place some panko on top and press down, then turn the chop and repeat until I have an even coating. Be sure the seam side of the chop is coated well to prevent the cheese from oozing out onto your pan!
Place the chops onto the reserved baking sheet.
Bake the chops in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes, or until the juices run clear. Enjoy!