In the spirit of not wasting food, I tend to save things in the freezer even if I’m not sure how I will use them. Case in point, I have a freezer bag full of heels from loaves of bread. I save them with grandiose ideas of making homemade whole grain bread crumbs or croutons. Most of the time, I never get around to making those ideas a reality.
However, sometimes those random frozen leftovers come in handy. I have stashed 4 pork chops in the freezer for months. Generally, I’m not a fan of pork chops for the same reason I usually stay away from white meat chicken…they tend to dry out when I cook them. I am, however, a huge fan of meat stuffed with other ingredients (especially if those other ingredients are full of moisture and flavor). I decided those bread heels, mixed with a leftover cornbread muffin (also stashed in the freezer) and a few other ingredients, would make great stuffed pork chops! Good thing I’m a food hoarder…
Here’s how I made the pork chops:
Stuffed Pork Chops (serves 4)
- 4 pork chops (I used boneless, but bone-in would work)
- 1 tablespoon of butter, divided (or olive oil or cooking spray)
- 1/4 red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 stalk of celery, chopped
- 1 cornbread muffin, broken into pieces
- 1 heel of whole grain bread, broken into small pieces
- 1 teaspoon of chopped dried onion (or fresh chopped onion)
- 1/2 cup of chicken broth (I used organic)
- 3/4 cup of white cheddar, shredded
- seasoned salt, to taste (I made my own with salt, a little paprika, and a little garlic powder)
- dried marjoram, to taste
- fresh cracked pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut a pocket into the side of each pork chop using a sharp knife or kitchen shears (I found that kitchen shears worked better for me), and set the chops aside. In a medium/large frying pan, saute the bell pepper and celery in 1/2 tablespoon butter (or olive oil or cooking spray) over medium heat for about 3 minutes until the vegetables are tender-crisp. In a medium bowl, mix the bell pepper and celery with the muffin pieces, bread pieces, onion, chicken broth, and cheese with your hands or a wooden spoon.
Next, sprinkle both sides of each pork chop with seasoned salt, marjoram, and pepper. Then, stuff the pork chops with as much of the breadcrumb stuffing mixture as possible. In the same frying pan as before, cook the pork chops in 1/2 tablespoon of butter (or olive oil or cooking spray) over medium heat about 5 minutes on each side until brown (I used tongs to turn the pork chops so the stuffing wouldn’t fall out too much). Place pork chops in an ungreased baking pan and top with any remaining stuffing that won’t fit inside the chops. Bake 45 minutes covered tightly with foil and another 15 minutes uncovered. I allowed the chops to rest 5 minutes before serving.
In order to make this recipe less labor intensive than it sounds, I let my food processor do all of the chopping for me. You can do a lot of the prep work the night before, and cut down on the hands-on time right before dinner.
This recipe made me, the non-pork chop lover, drool. My husband and 3 year old loved them, too. My 1 year old was less enthusiastic, but I will chock that up to teething and temporary toddler picky-ness.