Stuffed Pork Chops with Speck, Manchego and Pesto

these are a pain in the ass to photograph


These were a bit of a fluke (these were also inordinately difficult to photograph) – sometimes the best things are. I get meat delivered monthly from a company that sources beef, pork and lamb from farms within 250 miles of the city, then delivers it packed in dry ice right to your door. (Every day I become more of a hermit.) I love it. The meat is delicious, they have awesome things like trotters and tails and organ meats and fresh eggs, and it is so convenient! Plus it is reasonably priced AND when they send me things I wouldn’t typically buy, I get to be creative and experimental.

So I had what I thought were boneless pork chops in the freezer – when I typically buy pork chops I buy thick cut bone-in chops, and then I coat them in panko, pan roast them and serve them with apples, sage and brown sugar, which is one of my favorite meals of all time, but is not summery. That is totally what I would have made if I had known they were bone in, but because I thought they were boneless I got creative – divine intervention! I thought they would be great stuffed with the manchego and garlic scape pesto (you can still find scapes out there – get some, make pesto) that I had in the fridge, and they would have been, but they were even better when I found the speck I had forgotten about in the cheese drawer. (Use prosciutto if you want, in this case, they would be totally interchangeable and equally delicious, I just happen to love the speck from the local meat store.) I just made a quick mixture with chopped up speck, grated manchego and the pesto and then I used a thin sharp knife to cut a slit in side of the chop. A thin knife is great here, because it allows you to cut a thin slit in the meat on the edge, so the stuffing doesn’t fall out, but open it up wider in closer to the bone to maximize the stuffing ability (this would be a great place for a video, because I don’t think my description is even remotely helpful.) Basically, just try to get as much stuffing in there as you can.

Because I used a grill pan inside, I preheated the oven to 400 and finished the chops in there so I didn’t smoke myself out of my apartment, but if you are using a real grill because you’re fancy, there’s no need for the oven. These are crazy quick and very flavorful and feel like lots of effort even though they are not. Perfect for a summer dinner party. Of course they would also be lovely using boneless chops. These cook up really quickly, and the filling just requires about five minutes to put together, so these are a great weekday dinner. I served them over a salad of farro, summer squash, pine nuts and parmesan, but they would be great with anything mildly flavored. The filling is rich and salty, so you don’t want anything that would compete. (Also, take it easy on the salt, the meat and cheese in the filling are plenty salty.)

off the bone

off the bone

Things about things:

  1. SUMMER TIP: And I can’t stress this one enough – next time you are grilling outside, propane, charcoal, campfire, it doesn’t matter, anything will (and does) work – buy yourself some fresh littlenecks (if you are nice, also buy enough for whomever you are grilling with) rinse them off and throw them on the grill. Let them sit on the grill until they open. Put them in a bowl (if you don’t put them directly into your mouth) and squeeze lemon on them. Pass them around with some hot sauce. Seriously. Do this. There isn’t even a recipe because the only ingredient is clams, so I am just going to drop it here and hope you take me seriously. This is so much better than it should be, and I have no idea why. You don’t even have to like clams, and you are probably going to like them like this.
  2. I have been eating some crazy good food lately. I went to The Red Hen in DC, and Maple Avenue in Falls Church and Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink in Miami, and that was just the last couple of weeks when I was on the road. I have also been to Pastoral and Trina’s Starlite Lounge close to home and I continue to think about the food I had in all of those places. In related news, have you all had corn dogs? I think most people have, right? That is a thing that people eat, I think, but I missed that boat somehow, and I am really sad about that. I had a corn dog recently, and I think it is just the beginning. I have lost time to make up for.
  3. I am still reading A Song of Ice and Fire The Second (A Clash of Kings.) It is good, but it is long and I am ready to read something else.
  4. I am listening to Jenny Lewis and LP. They are very different but equally awesome and I am pretty much just rotating between the two albums this week.
  5. I catered a bridal shower last weekend, and Pam was lovely enough to write about it in her blog. Pardon my face, I forgot how to present myself that day.
  6. I got to visit JMU for the first time in YEARS a couple weeks ago and it was delightful. It looks so different and impressive. It was orientation week and the incoming freshmen were freakin adorable. I am so jealous they still have those years in front of them.
  7. The littlest will be home for a whole month in less than three weeks and I am so excited I can’t stand it. I miss her.

Stuffed Pork Chops with Speck, Manchego and Garlic Scape Pesto (serves 2)

2 thick-cut (at least an inch, an inch and a half would work) pork chops, bone-in or boneless

1 oz (4-5 slices) speck or prosciutto, chopped in small pieces

2 oz manchego, grated

1/4 cup garlic scape pesto (basil pesto will work too!)

salt and pepper to taste

If you are cooking indoors, preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Using the thinnest, sharpest knife you have, cut a small (about 1″ wide) slit in the side of each chop, then use the tip of the knife to increase the  size of the pocket in the middle of the chop and in closer to the bone (if there is one.) Try not to puncture the outside of the chop anywhere else.

In a small bowl, mix the grated cheese, the chopped speck and the pesto together to combine. Stuff the chops with as much of the stuffing as you can, without tearing the meat, you should be able to use most of it. I like to use a toothpick to close the opening a bit if it needs it. Salt and pepper the outside of the chops.

Heat an oven proof grill pan or grill to medium high. Cook the chops on the first side for eight minutes, and if cooking on the stove top, flip the chops and put the pan in the oven for another eight minutes. If you are grilling outside, flip the chops and cook for eight more minutes with the top of the grill closed to retain the heat.

Remove the chops from the heat and let them rest for at least five minutes. Slice, serve and enjoy.

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