Sunday, June 14, 2009

Pork Chops

Do you remember Shake and Bake. Perhaps it is still on the shelves now. I have not seen it lately. My only reaction to that memory is: "What were we thinking?"
Horrible stuff! To tell the truth, every day pork chops were not the gourmet delight they could have been. We were all so afraid of Trichinosis that pork chops were sprinkled with oregano and garlic and baked till they were like jerky. I actually liked them that way, but these days Jerky and my teeth would have a long and drawn out battle. What I remember as a bright spot in the pork chop annals were the chops Mom stuffed.

The thickest chops you could buy were split from fat to bone(we could not afford the boneless chops) and stuffed with regular Bell's stuffing, with all the sauteed vegetables and raisins. Of course there is not much in the way of stuffing varieties that you could not use. Something with dried cherries would be nice, and I often do them that way. Here is an interpretation of her other efforts, more in the Italian line.

Use chops that are at least an inch thick. Split each chop from the fat edge of the chop, all the way to the bone. Some cooks will make a pocket in them with perhaps a one or two inch slit in the fat, opening inside to open as much inside area as possible. That is not nearly enough stuffing for me...Open those babies up like a book.

Mix a stuffing of stale bread crumbs(small cubes are perfect rather than tiny crumbs)

Saute minced onions and two or three cloves of minced garlic till tender.
Deglaze the saute pan with a cup of chicken broth and add a handful of raisins or other dried fruit.
Add a tablespoon of Rosemary and simmer for a minute or two to plump the raisins and soften the rosemary.
Add the bread crumbs till a mushy mass forms and cool. This is not meant to be like baby food, but moist and lumpy. You have the option of adding an egg to provide more moisture and bind it together.
Add a beaten egg(optional)when cool.
Add a small amount of parmesan or similar grating cheese, salt and pepper.

Stuff the bread mixture into the cavities loosly and place in an oiled loaf or similar pan large enough for the number you are making, standing up with the stuffing showing on top. Any extra stuffing can be forced around the chops to keep them more or less upright. Drizzle all with olive oil. Cover the pan tightly and bake at 250 degrees for at least and hour. Raise the oven temp to 350 and put back into the oven uncovered till the fat browns a bit and the stuffing has a nice crust. The chops should be nice and moist.

This would be very good with the bread, cheese and raisins mentioned elsewhere. This was common at home.

If you like your chops more exposed to the heat and the meat more browned, lay them flat in a lasagna pan or even on a rack off the bottom to cook. Covered for at least half of the time. Just keep the temperature down and make sure there are no colored juices coming out of the meat. Check with a meat thermometer if you are not sure.

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