Saturday, April 28, 2012

Stuffed Pork Chops

I know.  Two entries in one day.  Aren't you all lucky?  We just won't mention that I've been slacking the rest of the month.  I meant to do some catching up while my husband was away, but that didn't happen.  I didn't do a whole lot of cooking since it was just me for a week.  Though I did take the opportunity to have a few things that I like and he won't eat.  The first night he was gone I had some southwestern style stuffed portabello mushrooms that I picked up from Sprouts.  The second night I had sauteed cremini mushrooms and spaghetti squash with some andouille sausage sausage thrown in the mix.  As you might have guessed, my husband won't eat mushrooms.  He also doesn't like any squash except pumpkin.

Anyway.  I picked him up from the airport late yesterday afternoon, and we just picked something up on the way home for dinner.  So, for his birthday dinner (his birthday was this past Thursday), I made stuffed pork chops followed by the Ginger Nutella Brownies from a previous post.

I was using things that we already had on hand since we're also fairly strapped for cash until Friday.  Vacations are expensive, though he did really well keeping the costs down.

On to the pictures!

I started out by preparing the stuff that was going to go inside the pork chops.  You should also preheat your oven at this point.  I had mine set to 425 degrees F.  Tonight I was stuffing them with some prosciutto, some cheese, sage and garlic.  I also threw a little fresh ground pepper in the garlic-sage mix.  Since prosciutto comes in slices, like this:

... my first step was to slice this into ribbons.  I found that the smaller pieces could be more evenly distributed in the pork chop pocket.  To make this a little easier (since prosciutto is also tissue paper thin), I rolled each slice at an angle before slicing.

I kept each set of ribbons in separate piles and once all four were sliced, I portioned out the cheese to go with it.  I used a half slice of provolone and a little bit of shredded mozzarella for each pork chop. 

Next, I eyeballed the dry sage.  You could definitely use fresh sage leaves in this as well.  One to two leaves per chop would be good.  If using fresh, you should slice those in ribbons as well.  I probably used about 1 tablespoon of dried sage.

That was a tiny little bowl.  Next I took 3 small cloves of garlic and grated them into the sage.  I have a little hand held grater that grates in both directions.  I love that thing.  It makes using garlic so much better.  Makes it small enough that it spreads evenly throughout your dish.

I mixed the sage and garlic with some fresh ground pepper and set that aside. 

Now that all the filling stuff was ready, it was time to deal with the pork chops.  When we were originally shopping for groceries, my husband suggested that we get chops that were already butterflied.  I chose not to for two reasons.  The first was that it was cheaper and the second was because I didn't want the chops fully butterflied.  I just wanted a pocket.

So, I took our chops and very carefully cut a slit in them with a sharp knife, being careful not to cut all the way through to the other side.  I also left both top and bottom in tact as well.

Once I had all four cut, I took the sage-garlic mixture and rubbed it in the pockets

There's just no really good way to get a shot of that step.

Next I stuffed the pockets with the prosciutto, followed by the provolone, and finally the mozzarella.

At this point, you can secure the openings with toothpicks to try and keep everything inside.  I did not because I like a bit of crispy cheese.  I did stretch the meat almost closed though. 

Season one side with salt and pepper, and place seasoned side down in a preheated, oven safe skillet with a little olive oil. 

Season the other side of the chops and wait for a few minutes.  You want to sear the outside of the chops, so you don't want to move them too much.  You want to allow them to get some color to them before flipping them.

Turn them over when it's time and transfer the skillet to the preheated oven.  The cooking time for these will really depend on how thick the chops are.  If you go with thinner one's like mine, they only needed another 8-10 minutes.  Long enough for me to saute the asparagus and heat the water for the potatoes (more on this in a minute).  If you go with ones about 2" thick, you should probably allow closer to 20 minutes.  Use a meat thermometer to check that they're done. 

According to the USDA, you need to cook pork chops to an internal temperature of at least 145 degrees F.  Ground pork is a different matter, but you can see that on the link above too.

Now, as you may have guessed, I did use instant mashed potatoes.  Again, I was using things that I had on hand.  Some of you who know me, know that I love mashed potatoes.  My parents used to give me a hard time because I was very specific about how I ate my mashed potatoes when I was younger.  I used to build a well, put butter in it and mold potatoes over the well to seal that in.  Essentially, I was making a potato volcano.  I also did not like "fake"/instant mashed potatoes.  To date, the only instant mashed potatoes that I like are the Idahoan Mashed Potatoes.  They are quick, easy and pretty close in taste to normal mashed potatoes.  They are acceptable to me.  If I had potatoes and the time, I'd make mashed potatoes from scratch.

Anyway.  That was dinner.  I just sauteed the asparagus with a little olive oil, salt and pepper.

We followed up with the ginger nutella brownies for my husband's birthday "cake."  He turned 30 on Thursday, so I put 3 candles on one and none on the other.  There was no way I could fit 30 candles on there.  We'd probably set off the fire alarm.

Thanks for reading and happy eating!

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