When Paul and I moved in together, he cooked a lot. I would have been thrilled with a guy who just loved food. A guy who could also make magic on the plate? Swoon. He knew that, and immediately set out to win my heart through food.
One of the first dishes he made for me was stuffed pork chops. He bought two thick chops and sliced them open horizontally, stuffing the chops delicately with a bread and herbed goat cheese filling, and then pan-searing them.
Even though he had never made the dish, he had already discovered the secret behind what makes stuffed pork chops successful: the 'pocket' slice has to be deep enough to allow for as much stuffing as possible while keeping all edges intact to hold the stuffing in place. Packed with flavor and moisture, those chops won my heart.
We moved on to other favorite dishes and eventually forgot about stuffed pork chops. I recently rediscovered the dish, however, 10 years later, in a "Cuisine at Home" trial magazine issue I got in the mail.
Nowadays, Paul lets me be chef, and I've developed a certain style that skews Italian. While the magazine recipe featured apple and thyme, I wanted to put my own flavors to the test: Rosemary and sage with the sweetness of dried cherries and the tartness of grainy mustard and balsamic vinegar.
My experiments don't always work but this one wowed us both. The stuffing burst with flavors that complemented pork while sopping up all the pork juices.
When we took our first bites, we wondered why we ever forgot about stuffed pork chops. With the new flavors of rosemary and cherry, this was one dish worth bringing back to our table.
Stuffed Pork Chops with Rosemary, Sage, and Dried Cherry
2 (6 – 8 ounce) boneless pork loin chops
2 slices toast, diced
¼ onion, diced
¼ cup dried cherries, chopped
¼ cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 sprigs rosemary, leaves finely diced
1 small bunch sage, leaves finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup white wine
¼ cup chicken stock
2 tablespoons grainy mustard
Squeeze of lemon
1 small shallot, finely diced
3 sprigs rosemary, leaves minced
1 tablespoon butter
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees a half hour in advance.
For the stuffing, saute the onions, garlic, and herbs until soft.
In a medium bowl, combine the diced toasted bread with the cooked onion, garlic, and herb mixture. Add the cherries, chicken broth, balsamic, mustard, and salt and pepper and toss.
With a sharp knife, slice a 'pocket' into the side of the chops. Be careful not to cut through to the other end of the chop. Also, make sure that the chop is intact on the sides to keep the stuffing in place.
Fill each chop with the stuffing, packing as much as you can into the chop while keeping it intact.
In a heavy bottom skillet, brown the chops over medium-high heat, about 3 minutes on the first side. Flip the chops to the other side, add the rest of the stuffing to the pan, and then move them to the oven and roast for about 10 - 14 minutes depending on the size.
Remove the chops and the stuffing from the pan and tent with foil to keep warm.
Heat the butter in the pan and saute shallots. Combine herbs, wine, grainy mustard, stock, and lemon juice. Deglaze the pan with the mixture. Let reduce about 4 – 5 minutes and pour on top of the chops. Serve immediately.