December 21, 2008

Pork Chops Stuffed with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Spinach

This is one of my favorite stuffed pork chop recipes, from one of my favorite chef's, Giada de Laurentiis. It is so flavorful and savory...I heart it very much! I only make it once in awhile, but when I do, I consider it quite a treat. We actually had this for last night's dinner, so I will skip the fluff, and just get down to the nitty-gritty of the recipe. Needless to say, we all loved it and there are no leftovers for today.

I have to make a few adjustments based on our families preferences. The husband is not a huge fan of goat cheese (it is a little too tangy for him), but he will eat it in small quantities. I think this recipe calls for 2 ounces (or 1/4 cup) of goat cheese, but I actually cut it down to 1 ounce (or 1/8 of a cup) and find that it is the perfect amount. I usually make up the difference in quantity by adding more cream cheese. Also, the husband likes the flavor, but not the texture, of sun-dried tomatoes. I actually agree with him on this one. Sometimes large pieces of sun-dried tomatoes are a little too chewy for me, as well. I fixed this little issue by chopping the sun-dried tomatoes really finely before adding them to the filling. Problems solved! The texture is no longer a point of contention, and the sun-dried tomato flavor still shines through the dish.
I always end up with more filling than I need for the stuffing, so I actually top the chops with the remaining filling (I remove the chops from the pan, and put the filling on top right before covering them with foil); the filling gets all melty and warm through from the carry-over steam. It is so good!!!

I think this is another dish where the quick pan sauce really makes it yummy. So, don't skip the sauce step. Trust me.

I served this meal with Creamy Parmesan Orzo and steamed green beans. It was fan-freakin'-tastic!

Pork Chops Stuffed with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Spinach

1 tablespoon olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 sun-dried tomatoes, diced
1 (10-ounce) bag of frozen spinach, thawed and excess water squeezed out
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 cup (2 ounces) goat cheese ***(I only use 1 ounce)***
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 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

Warm the 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, salt, pepper, and thyme. Cook until combined, about 2 more minutes. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl. Add the goat cheese and the cream cheese. Stir to combine and set aside.
Use a sharp knife to cut a pocket into the thickest portion of the pork chop. Stuff each pocket with 1/4 of the spinach and sun-dried tomato mixture and close the pork around the stuffing. Season the outside of the pork with salt and pepper.
In a small bowl combine the chicken broth, lemon zest, lemon juice, and mustard.
Warm the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot add the pork. Cook until golden and cooked through, about 4 minutes per side.

Transfer the pork to a side dish and tent with foil to keep warm. ***(Here is where I put the extra filling on top of the chop, before tenting with foil).***

Add the chicken broth mixture to the skillet over medium-high heat. Scrape up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan as the chicken broth simmers. Reduce the broth by half to make a light sauce, about 8 minutes. Spoon some sauce over the pork before serving.

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