Havarti + Apple Stuffed Pork Chops with Apple Cider Pan Sauce is a nod to fall flavors and comfort. Just fancy enough for a dinner party, but quick enough for a hearty weeknight meal.
Sweet and Savory Havarti + Apple Stuffed Pork Chops
I first made this recipe when we had a bounty of apples from the orchard and some leftover havarti in the fridge. It was one of those nights when I just wanted to use up ingredients I had on hand before they reached their expiration.
Pork felt like the appropriate protein to reach for, so why not stuff some thick-cut chops with those tart apples and gooey, salty havarti? Being fall, those comfort food cravings are in full force and nothing spells comfort to me like a yummy sauce — the kind you can dip everything into.
Truth be told, I made that first sauce with hard cider (a bottle or two were tucked in the back of the fridge). Another truth…hard cider is not my drink of preference, so why we even had some is beyond me. Swapping it out for apple cider yields a more rich result which suits me just fine!
In addition to kitchen staples like olive oil, kosher salt + black pepper, you’ll need:
- Pork loin chops — bone-in or boneless is up to you
- Havarti cheese — a semi-soft cheese, sometimes flavored with herbs, horseradish and other things. It pairs really well with apples and is so good when it gets all melty.
- An apple — the variety is up to you. I’ve made this with Granny Smith, Honeycrisp (the variety we always have around for snacking) and most recently with Pink Lady, which I think has been my favorite so far.
- Apple cider — this adds a sweetness to the sauce, but it doesn’t come out too sweet thanks to the balance offered by other ingredients. Hard cider works, too, and dry riesling would be another lovely substitution.
- Dijon mustard
- Apple cider vinegar
- Unsalted butter
- Flour — combined with the butter, this helps to produce that creamy, slightly thickened texture.
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How to Make Havarti + Apple Stuffed Pork Chops
These chops are seared in a skillet, then finished in the oven on a sheet pan. You’ll create the pan sauce in the same skillet to take advantage of all the little bits left behind by the searing process.
Stuff the Chops
The trickiest part about this recipe is cutting the pocket in the chops. If you’re using bone-in, you’ll obviously create the pocket in the edge opposite the bone. If using boneless, cut the pocket on the fatty edge of the chop. Cutting the fat side also helps prevent the chop from curling up because that fat strip tends to ‘shrink’ while cooking.
Insert a small sharp knife into the side of the chop to create a deep pocket, but don’t cut all the way through to the opposite side. Carefully slice the chop open along just that fatty side (see the photo below).
Add thin slices of apple and havarti into the pocket. Drizzle the chops with olive oil and season with salt and pepper, on both sides.
Cook the Chops
Grab a big skillet and set it over medium-high heat. A nice hot surface will get you that golden brown crust quickly. Add some olive oil to the skillet, then add the chops. If you don’t have a large skillet, work in batches. You’ll sear the chops 2 to 3 minutes on each side, flipping carefully with a spatula — just until you get that color we’re looking for, then transfer them to the sheet pan.
Roast them in a 325°F oven for 16 to 18 minutes or until they reach 145°F in the thickest part of the meat (NOT the stuffing). Once done, remove them from the oven and allow them to rest for a few minutes.
Make the Pan Sauce
While the chops roast, return that same skillet to medium heat. Add butter to melt, then add the diced apples. Cook these until they’re golden and just beginning to soften — about 3 minutes.
Add the flour. Whisk constantly for 1 minute as the flour cooks. Whisk in the cider then allow it to simmer on low until it begins to thicken slightly. Whisk in the remaining ingredients, taste for salt + pepper, then turn off the burner.
Transfer the chops to a serving platter or individual plates and serve with pan sauce drizzle on top or on the side.
Helpful Tips for Juicy Pork Chops
One of the biggest complaints I hear about cooking pork is that it’s easy to turn it into shoe leather. Here are some tips to prevent that from happening:
- Use bone-in pork chops — the bone is an insulator and regulates the temperature to some degree. It also reduces surface area (at least along one edge) for juices to escape. And, sometimes it has fat pockets around it that help to keep the meat juicier. These are all great reasons to choose bone-in, but there are other ways to keep that boneless cut juicy, too.
- Brine your chops — a quick 30 minute soak in a simple brine (1 tbsp salt to every 1 cup of water) helps to season the meat and does some sciency thing that allows the meat to retain moisture. Be sure to dry your chops well before searing them.
- Sear them on higher heat for just long enough to establish some color and flavor, then finish them in a moderately heated oven. Searing isn’t going lock in juices, but will add flavor through caramelization.
- Use a meat thermometer! Pork is done at 145°F despite what your grandparents tell you. You can even take it off the heat just before this, tent it, and allow for carryover cooking to bring up to 145°. Overcooking your meat is a surefire way to dry it out. Invest in an instant read digital thermometer or a programmable remote version that will beep at you when your food has reached the set temp.
More Meaty Main Recipes…
- Grilled Adobo Chicken Thighs
- Brined Pork Steaks with Prosecco Vinaigrette
- Turkey + Chorizo Roulade with Chimichurri
- Cast Iron Skillet Meatballs
Havarti + Apple Stuffed Pork Chops with Apple Cider Pan Sauce
- Sheet pan
- 4 center cut, pork loin chops (bone-in or boneless) 1" to 1½" thick
- kosher salt + fresh cracked pepper
- 3 oz havarti cheese cut into 8 slices
- ½ apple cut into 12 thin slices
- olive oil
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- ½ apple diced small
- 2 tsp flour
- 1 cup apple cider
- 2 tsp dijon mustard
- 2 tsp fresh thyme chopped
- 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
- kosher salt + fresh cracked pepper
- Preheat oven to 325°F.
- Cut a large pocket into the fatty side of the chops. Be careful not to cut all the way through. Season the inside with salt and pepper. Layer havarti and apple slices inside the pocket. Drizzle olive oil over the outside and season with salt & pepper.
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. When shimmering, add the stuffed chops and cook for 2 to 3 minutes on each side or just until a nice golden crust has appeared. Take the pan off the heat and transfer the chops to a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 16-18 minutes until an instant read thermometer registers 145° (in the thickest part of the pork, not the apple and cheese stuffing).
- Meanwhile, return the same skillet to medium heat and add butter to melt. Add the diced apples and cook until golden, about 3 minutes.
- Add flour and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add cider and whisk smooth. Simmer on low for a few minutes until it begins to thicken slightly and coats the back of a spoon.
- Whisk in the Dijon, thyme, apple cider vinegar. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Turn off the burner.
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