I’ve always had a bit of trouble getting behind lean pork. With most meat, a lot of the flavor is in the fat — and pork is no exception. Thats why you’ll hear me wax poetics about pork belly on a regular basis. But as delicious as pork belly is (it is sooooooo freaking delicious), it just isn’t something that makes sense to have as a regular part of your diet or in your normal dinner rotation. (Oh how i wish that weren’t so.)
So, those of us who want to lead long, healthy lives and fit into those cute shorts we bought last summer, have to think of ways to make those non-decadent cuts as flavor-packed as possible. On of my favorite things to do with lean pork and chicken breast, both of which can be a bit of the drier and blander side, is to literally stuff them with flavor. A great stuffing absorbs delicious savory juices, keeps the meat moist by cutting down the cooking time, and has complex flavors that complement the protein.
I love this recipe because its incredibly easy to make and the flavors are so perfect together. I swear, I think pork, apple and sage were in a polyamorous relationship in a past life —they just just work so well together. When you include cranberries to balance everything out with a tart note, you really have a perfect selection of flavors.
Keep in mind that your pork should be cooked to 145 degrees and still be a little bit pink inside when you cut it. I have no idea where the concept of having to cook pork to be “well done” came from, but unfortunately its a notion that has been plaguing the American home-kitchen for far too long. Your pork chop should be almost completely cooked through but still have a lovely pink hue to it — using a meat thermometer is really the best way to make sure you have the perfect pork chop. And for the sake of all that is good about meat— please… please… let it rest for 3-5 minutes before cutting.
This is a really perfect and easy Sunday supper — just add add a roasted veggie and you have a complete meal.
- 4 boneless pork chops, 1 inch thick
- 2 cups of stale bread, cut into cubes
- ¾ cup of apples, diced
- ⅓ cup of cranberries
- ⅓ cup of grated parmesan cheese
- 1 small onion, finely diced
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 4 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon of italian seasoning
- 1 cup of chicken stock
- salt and pepper to taste
- vegetable oil
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- In skillet, over medium-high heat, sauté the onions for 5-7 minutes until they are soft and translucent. Add the garlic and sauté for 2 more minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
- In a medium bowl, mix the breadcrumbs, apples, cranberries, parmesan, sage, italian seasoning and onion mixture. Add half of the chicken stock to the bowl and mix together. Season with salt and pepper to taste. If the breadcrumbs are not completely soft and the mixture doesn't hold together, add a bit more of the chicken stock.
- Cut a pocket into each pork chop to make room for the filling. To do this, hold the pork chop down on the cutting board with the palm of one hand and insert a small knife into the middle of one side. Cut almost all the way through to the other side and almost all the way through to each side (but keep the slit only about 3 inches wide).
- Stuff the pork chop with the bread and apple mixture, making sure that you fill it as much as you can without too much mixture sticking out of the slit. Season both sides of the chops with salt and pepper.
- Heat a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large, heavy bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, place the pork chops into the pan and cook for 3 minutes until the chop has taken on a golden brown color. Flip over and cook for 3 minutes on the other side.
- Put the chops onto a baking sheet and place in the oven to cook for 10-12 more minutes.
- When you remove them from the oven, cover them with foil and allow them to rest for 3-5 minutes to allow the juices to redistribute before cutting them.