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Monday, June 23, 2008

Stuffed.

Somehow I've made these twice without remembering to take any pictures. Big hits with everyone and nary a leftover morsel to be found:
Pork Chops with Spinach-Three Cheese Stuffing
adapted from Cook's Illustrated May/June 2005

Cook's always brines their pork, and I never do. If you want to brine them, go ahead, but they turned out perfectly fantastic without it (insert usual disclaimers about the quality of meat involved here). For this recipe you'll need one-inch-thick bone-in rib chops, the ones with the bones along two sides and a big unbroken eye of meat. Two of these are enough for our family (even with boys who often eat adult-sized portions), though the original recipe is for four chops.

To make the pocket for the stuffing, insert a sharp paring knife into the meat from the side of the chop, near one of the bones, until you hit the bone on the far side. Keeping the opening no more than about an inch across, swing the tip of the knife through the meat to make the pocket, then turn the knife around and swing it in the other direction.

Spinach-Three Cheese Stuffing

1 slice white sandwich bread, torn into quarters
1/4 C toasted pine nuts (instead of fresh bread and toasted pine nuts, I substituted a few tablespoons of a bread-crumb/hazelnut mixture I had in the freezer--some time when I'm feeling less lazy I'll do it according to the recipe)
1 T olive oil
2 medium garlic cloves, pressed
6 oz spinach leaves, washed (who doesn't buy pre-washed any more?) and stemmed
2 oz shredded fontina
1/4 C ricotta
1 oz grated Parmesan
1 med lemon, cut into 4 wedges
1/4 t salt
pinch ground nutmeg
ground black pepper

1. Pulse bread and pine nuts in food processor until evenly ground.

2. Heat oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add garlic and cook until just fragrant, then add spinach, turning with tongs to coat with oil. Cook until just wilted, then remove from pan. Transfer spinach to colander and squeeze to release excess moisture, then cool until just warm. (I did it this way the first time. The second time I transferred the spinach to a paper towel on top of a cutting board, then topped with another paper towel and pressed. I also chopped it a few times so it would mix into the cheese better. I preferred how it turned out the second time.)

3. Mix together fontina, ricotta and Parmesan in bowl. Add spinach and bread crumb mixture and mix to remove clumps. Stir in 1 T lemon juice, salt, nutmeg and pepper. Cut some of the white pith off the lemon wedge rinds to make little rectangular sections, about 3/4" by 1.5", to close the stuffing hole in the side of the chop.

The recipe didn't give any particular instructions for getting the stuffing into the chops. I found it worked well to have the chops in a bowl next to the bowl of stuffing, hold a chop up on its side, and use one finger to shove the stuffing deep into the pocket. The proportions of meat and stuffing are such that the chops will be really bulging when you're done. When you've got all the stuffing in the chops, insert the lemon rind pieces to seal up the gap. (The second time I made this I forgot to put in the rind stoppers, and the stuffing stayed in one chop and flowed pretty heavily out of the one in which I had inserted my temperature probe. So I recommend using the rinds.)

Preheat your oven to 450, then heat a little vegetable oil in an oven-safe skillet until just beginning to smoke. (The recipe calls for a regular skillet, then transferring it to a preheated roasting pan in the oven, but I just couldn't see the need for getting another pan dirty.) Brown the chops well on both sides, then transfer to oven and cook until center of stuffing is 135 degrees, 15-20 minutes, flipping halfway through cooking time. Transfer chops to a platter and tent with foil to rest for 10 minutes.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Hevansrich said...

Yeeuummy! Next time pictures please!!

June 23, 2008 at 8:24 PM  
Blogger Adriana Velez said...

Duuuuuuuuude, that sounds good!

I loved the Spanish dinner party idea, too, by the way.

June 25, 2008 at 1:18 PM  

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