Stuff It!

By the time the middle of January has arrived, the glow of the holidays and festive days are well behind us and we find ourselves facing a cold, dreary winter ahead. Of course, we'll arm ourselves with the traditional soups and stews, but what happens when they lose their luster as well? Why not try to mix things up a bit with a hearty meal featuring stuffed pork chops:

Now, these aren't any old stuffed pork chops. This happens to be my favorite version. Why? Well, when garlic and shallots get sautéed together, it's certainly a good start. Then, rather than give up the fight for a good stuffing texture by reaching for bread crusts, I rely on whole wheat panko bread crumbs, which maintain a bit of their crunch even when nestled inside a tender pork chop. Finally, lest flavor take a holiday, I toss a little blue cheese into the stuffing so it really pops. Then, as an added texture insurance policy, the chops are coated in more panko to give them added crunch. Once cooked — but not to dryness — they find themselves the star of a cold winter's night dinner.

What to have alongside them? For me, roasted carrots and parsnips and a glass of white wine worked beautifully. You might prefer a simple salad or sautéed green beans. However you decide to present them, I suggest a lighter, simpler side for these super-star pork chops. They're nearly a meal in themselves and something light is just what's needed to make this meal complete.

Blue Cheese-Stuffed Pork Chops

  • 4 boneless thick-cut pork loin chops
  • 2 tsp. cooking fat (I chose bacon fat)
  • 1/3 c. finely chopped shallots or red onions
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 c. whole wheat panko crumbs (or other coarse bread crumbs), divided
  • 1/4 c. crumbled blue cheese

Using a paring knife, carefully cut a small pocket into each of the pork loin chops. Using the blade, expand the inside of the pocket without making the opening larger by working the blade carefully near, but not to, the edges of the chop from within the pocket. Repeat with each pork loin chop and set aside.

Heat the cooking fat of your choice over medium-high heat in a nonstick skillet. Sauté the shallots and garlic until softened and lightly browned. Toss the sautéed vegetables with half of the panko crumbs and all of the blue cheese crumbles, reserving the other 1/4 cup of panko for coating. Carefully press the cheese and crumb mixture into the pockets of the chops. Then carefully coat the outside of the chops with the remaining panko.

Return the skillet to medium-high heat and brown the chops evenly on both sides. If further cooking is needed to fully finish the chops, do so in a 350° F oven.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 40 minutes

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