Copy Cat Pork Chops

Food shopping has always been my favorite weekly errand. Actually, I don’t usually consider food shopping an errand, more like a game: planning out my list, strategically weaving in and out of the aisles, challenging myself to see how low I can get the total each week. What can I say, it’s the little pleasures in life.

I think the pleasure I get from food shopping dates back to when I was a kid and would get a slice of American cheese from the deli man, or my mom would open up the bag of Chips Ahoy before we were at the register because I was “starving to death”. Though I have a bit more self control now, I still look forward to the free sample counter at Trader Joe’s every week (pigs in a blanket = score; carrots & hummus = bor-ing).

Besides the free samples, I’m a big fan of Trader Joe’s. While I don’t love the fresh produce selection, you really can’t beat their prices. TJ’s also has great pre-marinated meat and fish, which are really handy when you’re in a rush to throw dinner together. I recently tried their pork chops with apple-almond stuffing and loved it so much that I decided I would try my own riff. Though my version took a bit more prep than the premade chops, they were even more delicious; and having bought all the ingredients at TJ’s, just as cheap!

Apple, Almond & Cranberry Stuffed Pork Chops

makes 3 servings 

Ingredients:

2 tbsp olive oil

3 boneless pork chops

1 large gala apple, cored and small diced

2 shallots, diced

2 tbsp fresh sage leaves, diced

scant 1/4 cup dried cranberries

scant 1/4 cup toasted almonds, chopped

2-3 tbsp chicken stock

salt + pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. With a paring knife, cut a slit into the side of each pork chop, about 2-3 inches long and 1-2 inches deep, depending on the size of your chops. Season with salt and pepper on both sides. Set aside.

2. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat in a large sauté pan. Add shallots and apple. Cook until the shallots are translucent and apple begins to cook down, about 4-5 minutes.

3. Add almonds, cranberries, sage and chicken stock. Stir and allow to cook until the liquid evaporates. Remove apple mixture from the pan and set aside.

4. Once the stuffing has cooled slightly, spoon the mixture into each of the pork chops, using toothpicks to secure if needed. You should have extra stuffing – save for later.

5. Heat remaining tablespoon olive oil in the same sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add pork chops and cook until a golden crust forms, about 5 minutes. Flip and repeat on the other side. Add the pan to the oven and continue cooking until internal temperature reads 145 degrees, or 20-25 minutes. Serve pork chops with remaining stuffing on top or on the side.

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