Sunday, March 8, 2009

Pan-Fried Stuffed Pork Chops with Parmesan Curls and Marsala-Tomato Sauce

My poor little pork chop vicitms!

Bird's eye view of DC's plate (the lighting in our dining room really is awful, sorry about that.)

I finally had time last night to create my second dish for the Festa Italiana, my original recipe for Pan-Fried Stuffed Pork Chops with a Marsala-Tomato Sauce.
If you haven't heard about the wonderful Festa Italiana being hosted by Maryann of Finding la Dolce Vita and Marie of Proud Italian Cook, hurry over there quick! You can submit entries until the 9th.
I served the chops with braised fingerling potatoes (one of my favorite things about spring!), and Green Beans Bolognese, a recipe from The Splendid Table by Lynne Rossetto Kasper. It was the first time I had tried the green beans, and they were amazing. The guys really enjoyed the whole meal.

While looking for a cheese to stuff the pork chops with, I considered a variety of possibilities, fontina, asiago, taleggio, fresh mozzarella, chevre-- but ended up with a cheese I have never tried before, Raschera. The guy at the cheese counter suggested it. It is a WONDERFUL cheese. I highly recommend you try it. It was perfect for these chops and I had to beat DS away from eating it out-of-hand. It has a nice robust flavor and a semi-soft texture. I'd never heard of it, but it's an Italian raw cow's milk cheese from the Monregalese Alpine Valleys region. It gets its name from either the Alp Raschera near Mount Mongioie in the commune of Magliano Alp or the Lake Raschera, depending on which source you read! The confusion may be that there are two kinds of Raschera, plain Raschera and Alpine Raschera, which is made from herds that graze above a certain elevation. The label just said Raschera DOP, so I am not sure which I used. It is delcious! And it melted beautifully inside the chops without getting oily.

Here is what you will need to make my

Pan-Fried Stuffed Pork Chops with Parmesan Curls and Marsala-Tomato Sauce

4 center-cut boneless loin pork chops (at least 1" thick)
8 sage leaves
extra-virgin olive oil for frying the sage leaves
1 1/2 oz. dried porcini mushrooms
4 oz. Raschera cheese (or fontina)
1 1/3 c. dry breadcrumbs
2 eggs
kosher salt to taste
freshly ground pepper to taste
3 T extra-virgin olive oil
3 T canola oil

For the sauce:
1 1/2 T extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 c. minced onions
salt and pepper to taste
1/3 c. chicken stock
1/3 c. marsala
1 1/3 c. crushed tomatoes
1 T unsalted butter

OK, let's get started! I was so hungry while preparing this meal I forgot to take a few photos, so sorry about that. You'll just have to fill in with your imagination! And I KNOW that many of you have some AMAZING imaginations. And that's all I'm gonna say about that. :)

First, rinse off the porcini mushrooms to get the sand out of them. Then put them in a small bowl and pour hot water over them. Let them soak for 30 min., then drain and chop. Set them aside. (No photos of the mushrooms :( )

Next, fry the sage: Put enough olive oil in a small skillet to reach a depth of 1/4 in., and heat over medium heat. To test to see if the oil is hot enough, stick a wooden spoon in the oil. If small bubbles form around the spoon, you're good to go. Add the sage leaves and fry for 10-20 sec. on each side. Remove from the oil and drain on paper towels.

My Fried Sage Leaves

Now, for the pork chops. I like to get my breading ingredients lined up first, so I put 1 1/3 c. plain dry breadcrumbs in a glass pie plate, and beat 2 eggs with salt and pepper in another pie plate, near the stove.
Get your skillet (preferably a large, non-stick one) heating; add the 3 T olive oil and 3 T canola oil and heat over medium heat.

Now it's time to stuff those babies! With a good sharp knife, cut a generous pocket in the side of each chop, extending the pocket to within about 1/4 in. of the edge of the chop. Be careful not to cut all the way through. Your pocket will be like so:

I think I ended up widening the opening a little, but you get the idea.

Now, cut the rind off the Raschera cheese and toss it. Up in the air, like a juggler. At the same time, whirl around and around, still tossing, chanting (a la Chaka Khan): Tyler Florence! Tyler Florence! Tyler Florence! Just kidding-- really, just toss it in the trash. But if Tyler materializes in your kitchen, LMK!

Slice the cheese into 1/4 in. thick slices of a suitable size to fit into the pockets you just made. You may end up with extra cheese, but better too much than not enough! (That is what ALL good Southern cooks believe :) )

Put 2 fried sage leaves in each pocket, then add some of the chopped mushrooms. I think I ended up using all of my 'shrooms. Oh, wait-- I should have told you to salt and pepper the inside of the pocket first. Yes, what a good idea that would have been.

We're in the process of stuffin' here. I probably should have trimmed off that fat, but didn't want the chops to get dry. (I need not have worried, they were plenty moist.)

OK, if your chops are anything like mine, they are probably gaping open from having been generously stuffed. If we cooked them like this, all the stuffing would fall out. So close up the pocket with 1, 2, or 3 wooden toothpicks.

Ooh, I see I went for 4 toothpicks here!

Now it's time to dip and bread! First, salt and pepper the chops and rub it all in good. Then, dip each porkchop first in the egg, then in the breadcrumbs. Don't worry, the toothpicks are actually quite easy to work around. Push the chops firmly into those crumbs. Put each breaded chop on a plate or a piece of parchment (just for a minute, till they all get breaded). Now, if you are not in a hurry, they will benefit greatly from some time in the fridge on a rack. So if you want, you can line a baking sheet with some parchment, then put a rack on it, and put the chops on that, and put the whole thing in the fridge for about 30 minutes. This makes the breading nice and crisp and it won't fall off. I, however, was in a hurry, so I skipped that step.

Here are my chops, all breaded. You can see my Green Beans Bolognese simmering in the background.

Now that all the chops are breaded, check and see if the oil is hot (wooden spoon again). If so, put the 4 choppies into the pan, and let them cook 5-6 minutes on each side, until they are nicely browned. (I do so like it when food is nicely browned, don't you?)

Side One-Ringy-Dingy!

And Side Two-Ringy-Dingies!
You can see there was a small bit of cheese oozage. (That's why I told you to use a non-stick skillet.)

While your chops are cooking, take your hunk of parmigiano-reggiano and a vegetable peeler, and shave off some thin, short, hopefully curly, slices. I forgot to take a photo of this, but you can see them in the final photo.

Set the chops aside to drain on paper towels, 'cause it's sauce making time! This sauce is so easy to make, and so delicious. You're gonna love it. It's based on one by Lynne Rossetto Kasper. The Marsala really adds a nice touch. You can substitute dry sherry if you don't have any Marsala.

Pour out the oil from the skillet and wipe it out with paper towel (be careful not to get burned, use a good wad of them). If any cheese is stuck on, scrape it off with a wooden spatula.

Put the skillet back on the heat and add 1 1/2 T. of olive oil, heating over medium heat.
When the oil is nice and hot, add the 1/3 c. minced onion. Add salt and pepper to taste. Let it cook until it's just starting to turn golden. Then add the 1/3 c. chicken stock.

Here's my chicken stock in the pan.

Cook, stirring, until the liquid is pretty much evaporated. Then add the 1/3 c. Marsala, stirring and cooking until it's mostly evaporated, too, leaving a thick, syrupy coating on the bottom of the pan.

The Marsala is not quite reduced down here, but we're getting there!

Now add the 1 1/3 c. crushed tomatoes. Cook, stirring, until the sauce is slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, and add salt and pepper to taste. Finally, stir in the 1 T unsalted butter. Unfortunately, so great was my excitement that it was pretty much time to eat, I forgot to take a photo of the finished sauce.

To serve, place each chop on a warm plate. Spoon some of the tomato sauce over it, and then top with some of the parmigiano-reggiano shavings.

DC's plate, up close and personal (the lighting in our dining room isn't very good.)

Pan-fried Stuffed Pork Chops with Parmesan Curls and Marsala-Tomato Sauce

Boneless pork loin chops are stuffed with a mixture of ...

See Pan-fried Stuffed Pork Chops with Parmesan Curls and Marsala-Tomato Sauce on Key Ingredient.

I didn't take any photos of the green bean prep, but this recipe is so delicious, I am going to share it here. The mortadella and cloves give the beans fantastic flavor. Even my guys (neither a big green bean fan) enjoyed them.

Green Beans Bolognese (Splendid Table)

"This is a special occasion food that melts away on ...

See Green Beans Bolognese (Splendid Table) on Key Ingredient.

I had planned to make Lime-Rasperry "Oreo" Parfaits for dessert, but there just wasn't time for them to chill. So instead, I made these delicious little Butterscotch Finger cakes. They are sooo good, they just melt in your mouth.
I will write about them in another post, for now, you'll just have to drool!


  1. Stuffed chops are one of my husbands favorites! Yours look so drool worthy!

  2. This entire dinner looks scrumptious! I totally love porcini mushrooms. I'm bookmarking this. :)

  3. Another great meal, Karen. The stuffed pork chops sound amazing. And if Tyler, MY GUY, shows up in your kitchen, you just send him right the hell back to me where he belongs, got that! :)

  4. What a delectable dinner. The chops look great, all nice and crispy brown. I have never heard of that cheese before, will have to look for it. The dessert looks scrumptious, too!

  5. Shhhhhh...I will share a secret...wrap up the chops before you bread them and pop in freezer, and then no need for toothpicks and cheese stays in without ooozing...otherwise I say I want a bite and I want some of that dessert!

    My lighting is horrible, I have been trying to photo near my patio door! I also brought in an extra lamp to hover over while taking shoots, my assistant laughed at that trick!

  6. Kendra, thank you!! LMK if you try these!

    Gloria-- Oh, I'm so flattered! I hope you enjoy these.

    Hi, Donna-- Oh, thank you! Oh, if only Tyler would should up in my kitchen! I'm so sad he's not doing Food 911 anymore.

    Reenie-- thank you so much! I was a little skeptical on the cheese, but it was perfect. It's produced year-round, so you should be able to get some at a Whole Foods or good cheese shop.

    E-- You are the BEST!! Thanks for the tip. I assume I only leave the chops in the freezer for a short while-- 20 min. or so? I think your lamp idea is great! You know, I think we should get some of our fellow bloggers together and get tips from them on how to take good food photos with minimal equipment, space, and dishes!! Reeni's photos are always gorgeous!
    I'll poke around and see if I can find some free e-meeting software anyplace. Then we could have our own virtual classroom and actually hear each other, too!

  7. Wow, this is very impressive - I love this recipe! The stuffed pork chops sound soooo good! I love the Raschera cheese, and fried sage leaves there. Yum!

  8. This sounds so good, I love fried sage leaves. I make them to put on top of butternut squash soup!

  9. Karen, I'm dying to try one of your porkchops at the festa, they look and sound so good!! Thank you for joining us with this beautiful dish!
    xox, Marie

  10. These look terrific!! And then you had to make butterscotch cake too???? You are too good! :)

  11. Those look so great! U have such a hard time keeping my pork chops juicy unless I brine them

  12. Yum Yum Yum! Now I am hun-gray! Mmmmmmmmm Can you come to Denver and make those for me? lol


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