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Pesto-Stuffed Pork Chops

From The Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book

Prep: 20 minutes | Bake: 35 minutes | Oven: 375°F | Makes: 4 servings

3 TBS crumbled feta cheese
2 TBS refrigerated basil pesto
1 TBS pine nuts, toasted
4 pork loin chops or boneless pork loin chops, cut 1 1/4 inches thick
1 TSP freshly ground black pepper
1 TSP dried oregano, crushed
1 TSP bottled minced garlic
1/4 TSP crushed pepper
1/4 TSP dried thyme, crushed
1 TBS balsamic vinegar

1. For filling stir together cheese, pesto and nuts. Set aside. Trim fat from meat. Make a pocket in each chop by cutting horizontally from the fat side almost to the bone or the opposite side. Divide filling among pockets in chops. If necessary, secure opening with a wooden toothpick.

2. For rub, in a small bowl combine black pepper, oregano, garlic, red pepper and thyme. Rub evenly onto all sides of meat. Place chops on a rack in a shallow roasting pan. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 35 to 45 minutes or until done (160 degrees) and juices run clear. Brush vinegar onto chops during the last five minutes of baking. Before serving, discard toothpicks.

 

Of course I didn’t completely follow the recipe. First of all, I’m only cooking for two. I also only eat about half of a pork chop (or steak, or chicken breast.) So I used two boneless pork chops that were a little on the thick side.

This may have been the first time I made the pocket for a stuffed pork chop just about perfect. The filling stayed in, was even and didn’t require a toothpick. Win!

Now, I omitted the pine nuts, used fresh minced garlic, added a pinch of salt to the rub and definitely got gracious with the balsamic vinegar.  The filling was evenly split, same thing with the rub. It was actually the perfect amount for the two large chops I had. I’m not sure the recipe would really be enough for four.

Then I got to the part in the recipe where it says to cook the pork chops on a baking rack in a roasting pan. Well, I quickly learned that for some reason I don’t own a baking rack. So I pulled the rack out of my toaster oven and made it work — definitely a success!

With five minutes left of baking, I brushed on a generous coating of the balsamic vinegar. It was pretty easy to make. I served up the chops with some homemade garlic mashed potatoes and lightly buttered corn. Deliciouso!

For those of you put off by the feta cheese — don’t be. It really wasn’t that strong. The cheese actually had quite a nice flavor once paired with the pesto and the pork.

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