This post was not sponsored by Eat Y’all or Mississippi Blue Rice.
So, did y’all know that the word gumbo doesn’t just pertain to that thick hearty stew so popular in Louisiana? It also describes a very sticky clay commonly found throughout the southern half of the United States.
Yeah, me neither. That is, until just a few weeks ago.
On the last day of the Eat Y’all writers tour, we met the Wagner family, a 10th generation farming family (TEN! WOW!) who grows rice in Sumner, located in the Mississippi Delta. They sell their rice under the label Mississippi Blue Rice.
That’s right. Rice doesn’t just come from Asia and we grow more than cotton in Mississippi. In fact, Mississippi is the No. 6 rice-producing state in the country. I went to college in the Mississippi Delta. I remember tooling along Hwy 8 towards Delta State, not much to see but flat farm land and rice fields. It was very easy to zone out on a drive like that. Your mind drifts off and suddenly you remember you’re operating a moving vehicle and you wonder how many minutes have passed.
I always thought Mississippi Blue Rice was named solely because the Delta is the birthplace of the blues. Turns out, there’s more to the story. It’s also named for the blue gumbo clay the rice is grown in. Clay, while rich in nutrients, is back breaking to work in. Just ask The Husband every summer when he tries to till our garden.
Mississippi Blue Rice is ecologically grown. They do everything they can to ensure that their growing practices leave a small carbon and water footprint, while still producing a product that also fresh and delicious. With everything in the news these days about questionable farming practices and what exactly is in that plate of food you’re eating, I can totally admire and appreciate what the Wagner family is doing.
Before the tour ended, Eat Y’all’s founder, Andy, handed out samples to some of us. As he handed me my bags, he said, “Okay Cooking Bride, I want to see some recipes on your blog.” That kind of put me on the hook, huh?
I immediately began brainstorming ideas. Nothing in my cookbooks really blew me away. Then I remembered this recipe for pesto rice stuffed pork chops. This recipe isn’t new. In fact, I made it waaay back when this blog was just a wee thing. It was a good recipe that desperately needed some revamping and new photography. Perfect!
I always plant an herb garden every summer. I LOVE taking advantage of the flavors of fresh herbs, which is why I deviated from traditional basil pesto and added a little bit of everything from the garden. If you have time, lightly toast your pecans. If not, no sweat. They will still add a wonderful earthy bite to the rice filling. For this dish, I used Mississippi Blue Rice Beulah Land Medley. It’s a whole long grain brown and while red rice field blend.
These stuffed pork chops work wonderfully on the grill. The secret is to cut a pocket in the loin chop rather than butterflying them. Cut the pocket as deep as you can without cutting through the wall of the chop, then pack that rice filling in there. I mean, really get it inside every nook and cranny. Secure the open end with a toothpick and you should have a very minimal amount of stuffing that seeps out while cooking. Just remember to remove the toothpick before serving.
I sprinkled the outside of these with a homemade spice rub blend that I shared yesterday. Because these chops are so thick, they are very filling. I suggest serving these with a light side dish like these grilled vegetable kebabs.
Pesto Rice Stuffed Pork Loin Chops
Pesto Rice Stuffing:
- 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
- 1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves
- 1/4 cup fresh sage leaves
- 1/2 cup pecans
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons cream cheese softened
- 2 cups cooked long grain and wild rice
Pork loin chops:
- 6 pork loin chops cut about 2 inches thick
- 3 tablespoons barbeque spice rub
Combine first six ingredients in a blender or food processor. With the machine running, add the olive oil in a slow steady stream. Process until all ingredients are thoroughly blended.
Add pesto and cream cheese to the cooked rice. Mix until cream cheese and pesto are evenly incorporated. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Meanwhile, preheat a charcoal or gas grill.
Cut a pocket in the center of each chop, making sure not to cut all the way through. Stuff each pocket with the pesto-rice mixture. Secure the open end with a toothpick. Season outside of each chop with barbeque rub.
Grill the chops for about 20 minutes, flipping halfway through, until the juices run clear and the rice stuffing is heated through. Let the chops rest for ten minutes before serving.