Laziness is occasionally the mother of very tasty invention. In this case, it was a desire for something other than my usual weeknight pork chops combined with a distinct lack of desire to actually, well, cook. Ahem.
The solution stuffing the pork chops with a mix of toasted pine nuts, dried porcini mushrooms and a handful of snowy pecorino is the ultimate in both convenience and deliciousness. Its a win-win supper situation.
I wanted a filling for these pork chops that didnt need to be cooked beforehand (see above: laziness). Some kind of nut was a given, and I love the buttery, mild nature of pine nuts here. Cheese was definitely going into the mix, as usually happens in my kitchen, and nutty pecorino seemed like a good companion to the pine nuts.
I needed one more ingredient to make this a trifecta, and for that I turned to a packet of dried mushrooms stashed in the back of the cabinet. Dried mushrooms can be a fantastic convenience. Just pop them in some water for a few minutes and they plump into ready-to-use mushrooms almost magically. I used porcinis, but you could use any dried mushroom. Along with a sprinkle of fresh rosemary, they added that final deep, savory element my stuffed chops needed.
At heart, these are still easy oven-cooked pork chops. Nothing tricky or overly fancy here, although you could make them for a date night and win yourself some brownie points. Pair the chops with a crisp white wine and a simple side salad for all-out dinner bliss.
Emma Christensen is recipe editor at TheKitchn.com, a website for food and home cooking.
Pork Chops Stuffed with Pine Nuts, Porcini Mushrooms and Pecorino
2 pork chops, about 1 pound each
2 whole stems rosemary
1/4 ounce (roughly 1/4 cup) dried porcini mushrooms
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup shredded pecorino cheese
1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
Salt and pepper
PLACE the pork chops in a shallow baking dish. Dissolve 3 tablespoons of salt in 1 cup warm tap water. Mix with 2 cups of cold tap water and pour over the pork chops. Tuck the stems of rosemary around the pork chops. Let stand 20 minutes or refrigerate up to six hours.
COVER the mushrooms in lukewarm tap water and let them soak about 20 minutes. When completely soft, remove the mushrooms with a spoon, transfer them to a strainer, and rinse under cool water. Mince finely. (The soaking liquid can be strained and saved for another recipe.)
TOAST the pine nuts in a dry skillet over medium heat. Watch closely and shake the pan every few seconds so they don’t burn. As soon as the majority of the pine nuts have golden spots, transfer them to a clean container.
COMBINE the minced mushrooms, toasted pine nuts, pecorino, minced rosemary, and a few sprinkles of salt in a mixing bowl and mix until completely combined.
REMOVE the pork chops from the brine and pat them dry with paper towels. With your knife parallel to the cutting board, cut deep pockets into the sides of the pork chops. Divide the filling mixture between the pockets and press gently to sandwich the filling.
POSITION a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 400 degrees. Place a nonstick or cast-iron skillet in the oven to preheat as well. Once the oven is hot, use oven mitts to carefully remove the hot skillet and set it over medium-high heat on the stovetop. Turn on a vent fan or open a window.
LAY the pork chops in the hot skillet. You should hear them immediately begin to sizzle. Sear until the undersides of the chops are seared golden, three minutes. The chops may start to smoke a little – that’s OK. Turn down the heat if it becomes excessive.
USE tongs to flip the pork chops to the other side. Immediately transfer the skillet to the oven using oven mitts. Roast until the pork chops are cooked through and register 140 to 145 degrees in the thickest part of the meat with an instant-read thermometer. Cooking time will be six to 10 minutes.
TRANSFER the cooked pork chops to a plate and pour any pan juices over the top (or reserve for making a pan sauce or gravy). Tent loosely with foil and let the chops rest at least five minutes before serving.
Yield: 2 servings.