Kicking Off National Pork Month with the Bartling Family

Because Iowa is the number one pork producing state in the nation, it seems especially fitting that we’d kick off National Pork Month by honoring an Iowa farm family with a proud tradition of raising quality pork.

Mike and Kaitlyn Bartling farm on the edge of Hardin and Franklin Counties with Mike’s older brother, Steve, and their dad, Jim. Bartling Land & Livestock always has been diversified with row crops, forage, cattle and hogs, but the family’s sow herd expanded after Mike graduated from Iowa State University and came home to farm. In 2007, their farrow-to-finish operation was awarded a Master Pork Producer Award.

Although Mike’s wife, Kaitlyn, works off the farm as foundation director for Ellsworth Community College, she is no stranger to the pork industry. Kaitlyn grew up on a northwest Iowa farm where pork was a major enterprise; she was active in 4-H & FFA swine projects.  She was also a county pork queen and the 1995 Iowa Pork Princess.

Mike and Kaitlyn are proud to raise their children, 6-year-old Emma and 22-month-old Gus, as the next generation of pork producers and agricultural entrepreneurs. “Agriculture and pork production have been a part of our families for generations,” says Kaitlyn.  “We can’t imagine not giving our children the gift of knowing how and where their food comes from.  We know we are instilling an appreciation for the hard work it takes to produce safe and nutritious food for the world to consume.”

Kaitlyn also happens to be one of the best cooks I know, and a trip to her kitchen is always a five-sensory experience!  One of her all-time favorite recipes is for Apple Stuffed Pork Chops.  Another one of her favorite pork recipes, Spicy Pork Calzones, is also included below.

What’s your favorite way to enjoy pork?

Spicy Pork Calzone


  • 1 loaf of frozen bread dough, defrosted or your favorite white bread dough
  • 1 pound spicy Italian pork sausage
  • 1 clove garlic minced fine
  • 1 medium onion minced fine
  • ¼ t red pepper flakes
  • 2 C Shredded smoked provolone cheese
  • 1 egg white beaten with 2T water
  • Asiago or parmesan cheese shreds or poppy seeds


  1. Brown and drain pork sausage.
  2. Sauté onion with the meat and add garlic just before adding the sauce and red pepper flakes; simmer gently for 10 minutes.
  3. Roll bread dough out to ¼-inch thickness on an oiled cookie sheet.
  4. Cover half of the dough with meat sauce and Provolone cheese.
  5. Pull dough over the top and seal edges.
  6. Brush with egg white mixture and sprinkle with cheese or poppy seeds if desired.
  7. Bake at 350 until the bread is browned; let sit for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Apple Stuffed Pork Chops



  • 2+ cups of diced apples (2 to 3 large, tart apples such as Granny Smith, Braeburn, or McIntosh or a blend of tart apples)
  • 1 large, yellow onion (diced medium to fine)
  • 1 rib celery (diced medium to fine)
  • 1 T fresh or 2 T dried Parsley, minced fine
  • 3T Margarine or Butter
  • 12 slices of French bread cubed and toasted lightly
  • 6 Iowa Chops or America’s Cut, or one 4-pound boneless pork loin sliced to become one large sheet of pork
  • Salt & Pepper



  1. Prepare pork by cutting a slit in the chops; salt and pepper the inside of the chop.
  2. In a nonstick skillet, melt the margarine and sauté the onions and celery until tender.
  3. Add the apples and toss together with the onions, celery and margarine until the apples begin to release some of their juices.
  4. Toss together with the bread cubes and parsley.
  5. If it seems too dry add a small amount of chicken broth.
  6. Stuff each chop with ¼ to ½ cup stuffing.
  7. Salt and pepper the exterior of the chops.
  8. Sear the stuffed chops in the skillet and place on top of any remaining stuffing in a greased glass baking dish.
  9. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees until the pork’s internal temperature reaches 160 degrees.
  10. If preparing a loin roast, spread stuffing across the filleted roast and roll the roast back up.  Tie with cooking string and sear outside of roll before baking in a foil covered baking dish.

COOK’S NOTE:  Stuffing can be made the day ahead, but don’t stuff the chops until you are ready to cook. Enjoy!