Pesto Stuffed Pork Chops
Time for truth or consequences. Do you like pork chops? How about pesto? How about you don’t care one way or another?
It’s my pleasure, in the spirit of the Christmas season, to bless all three groups equally. For the third group, I implore you to refrain from drinking all the wine, beer, and brandy while the others of us are cooking a remarkable dish that will please every one of your guests and even your very iffy family.
As in all my dishes, as both my faithful readers know, this one is simple. I don’t do difficult dishes.
But, before we put knife to the chopping board and heat to the oven, let’s take a look at pesto’s origins. This won’t take long: Pesto started in Genoa around the 16th Century. Simple and simply elegant. Fresh basil, garlic, pine nuts, parmesan cheese, and olive oil. But, really, any combination of greens, garlic, nuts , cheese and olive oil will do. And, as in everything else we cook, tinker with the ingredients to get the taste that fits your palate. Start with only one clove of garlic if you must.
How about the pork chops? Need to mention those. I get my butcher to cut my chops about an inch to an inch and a half thick. This time they were about an inch and a quarter. I also use only pork that comes from animals whose bodies were not enhanced with growth hormones, unnecessary antibiotics, and other medicines and chemicals.
Let’s Get to It!
Prep time: About 20 minutes
Cooking time: 50 minutes
First, heat the oven to 375ºF (190ºC)
Have 4 big (bone in) pork chops at room temperature.
Have a large baking dish handy. You’ll put all 4 chops in it.
Now make this version of pesto:
½ Cup fresh basil, chopped fine before measuring
1 Cup, spinach chopped fine before measuring (pack it down!) You may also use frozen spinach.
½ Cup Parmesan cheese
2 Cloves fresh garlic, chopped
¼ Teaspoon salt or to taste
1/3 Cup shelled pistachios
1/8 to ¼ Cup olive oil (Note: You want this to be a thick paste, so be judicious and start small with the olive oil.)
Put all of the ingredients in a food processor to make a smooth paste. Give it a taste and add more of anything you want.
Prepare the 4 Pork Chops
Make a pocket in each chop. Rub them with olive oil and dust with salt and pepper, then stuff pesto in the pockets, as much as you can.
Put the stuffed chops in the baking dish, cover and slide it in the pre-heated oven for 25 minutes. Take the dish out, uncover and slide it back in the oven for another 25 minutes.
Caution: If you’ve cheaped out and are using thin pork chops, you’re on your own to decrease the cooking time and to explain to your hungry guests why you didn’t make more of the most delicious pork chops they’ve ever tasted.
I served the chops over a small bed of buttered pasta, accompanied by a side salad and a bottle of a nice Pinot Grigio.
Famous names from Genoa, Italy: Christopher Columbus, the composer Paganini, John Cabot (English Italian) discovered Newfoundland.