Every time I think of pork chops all I can picture are those tasteless, rubber-like pieces of shake 'n baked meat that I dreaded having for dinner as a kid. To this day I will never order a pork chop in a restaurant, and certainly never thought I would bring that kind of disaster into my own home. That is until my soon-to-be-hubby caught a glance of Giada making these little chops. "I want those!" he eagerly pronounced, which is one of the few times he has actually requested something for dinner rather than just being perfectly content with what I pick (we're definitely one of those couples who do the "what-do-you-want-for-dinner" fight at least a few times a week). So, being eager to please and feeling slightly tempted to tackle a few pork chop demons of my own, I caved in and agreed to make them for dinner.
Boy am I glad I did! That's right - I'm a pork convert. Not only were these totally delicious and moist, they also looked beautiful on a plate. They are stuffed with an array of wonderful flavors like sundried tomato, spinach and goat cheese. And the sauce that finishes them off gives this nice lemony taste that rounds the whole dish out. So, maybe it wasn't so much the pork I was in love with as the stuffing and sauce, but hey, it's a pork chop and I liked it. Add in the fact that they came from my very own kitchen and I think this was a pretty big accomplishment!
Even though they looked pretty complicated, they were surprisingly easy to make. Essentially you just mix some stuff together, jam it into a piece of meat, fry it up and serve it with a little bit of sauce from the same pan. I found the hardest part was attempting not to scald myself as the hot oil continuously flew out of my pan. I kept picturing Jessica Simpson in that episode of the newlyweds where she is trying to fry up some chicken and keeps screaming cause she's getting pelted with hot oil. I laughed then, but now I feel the girl's pain! It was worth the little bit of effort though, and I would definitely suggest giving it a try.
Mothers of America, put down the Shake 'N Bake!!
Stuffed Pork Chops
Adapted from Everyday Italian - Giada De Laurentiis
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves minced garlic
6 diced sun-dried tomatoes
1 10-ounce bag of frozen spinach, thawed
Salt & pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 cup (2 ounces) goat cheese
1/3 cup reduced-fat cream cheese
4 4-ounce center-cut pork chops
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/2 lemon, zested
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- In a saute pan, warm about 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
- Add garlic and cook for 1 minute or until the garlic becomes fragrant.
- While the garlic is cooking, squeeze all water out of the frozen spinach and add to the pan.
- Add sundried tomatoes, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of pepper and 1/4 teaspoon of thyme.
- Cook for a few minutes until all ingredients are warmed through and combined well.
- Remove spinach mixture from pan and place in a medium mixing bowl.
- Add the goat and cream cheeses to the bowl and combine well with the spinach mixture.
- Cut through the middle of each pork chop, just short of all the way through, so that it can fold outwards like a book.
- Stuff the spinach mixture inside each opening.
- Season the top of the pork with salt and pepper.
- In the saute pan, warm 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
- Place the pork into the pan with the hot oil and season opposite side with salt and pepper.
- Cook for about 4 minutes on each side or until a golden crust forms on both sides and the meat is cooked through.
- While cooking, combine the broth, Dijon mustard, lemon zest and juice from the half lemon in a small bowl.
- Remove pork from the pan and transfer to a plate.
- Cover plate with a loose layer of aluminum foil to keep warm.
- Add the chicken broth mixture to the pan, using a wooden spoon to scape all the pork droppings off the bottom.
- Cook the broth for around 8 minutes or until it has reduced by about half.
- Place pork on serving dish and poor reduced broth over top.