Feta Stuffed Pork Chops

 

This recipe makes for pork chops that a are flavorful, juicy, and tender. This oven-baked technique will ensure that your pork has a delicious crust and a perfectly cooked interior. Just follow these simple tips below and prepare yourself to reconsider everything you know about this weeknight-friendly cut. The recipe follows.

Tips on Cooking the Perfect Pork Chops

1. Buy the pork chops bone-in and thick.
Typically, bone-in pork chops are thicker than those with the bone removed. A thin pork chop is difficult to cook perfectly with this method, because of the hard sear you give both sides before it goes in the oven. If a chop is too thin, by the time you’ve seared both sides, the thing is practically overcooked! Choosing a thick chop allows you to get a nice golden sear on both sides and a perfectly cooked tender center.

2. Get your skillet HOT.
The goal of this initial sear is to get a golden, crisp crust on your chop without really cooking the center. I find that using a cast iron skillet is the best for cooking pork chops. A hot skillet is so CRUCIAL. Let your pork chops cook a couple minutes undisturbed, then take a peek and see how that golden crust is forming. When you are pleased with the desired golden sear, flip the chops over and brown them again, to get golden on the other side.

3. Brush with butter.
This classic restaurant trick—basting with butter while cooking—makes a great dish worthy f five stars. However, if you are trying to keep it healthy and watch the cholesterol, this step isn’t required, but it will definitely make the pork chops extremely delicious though. For the recipe below, you will be brushing a garlicky rosemary butter on the chops.

4. Use a meat thermometer.
Yes, many parofessional and home cooks will say that you will known the meat is done by instinct, but let’s be real, that takes years of experience by being the kitchen. But if you are not familiar with the “doneness” of your proteins, using a meat thermometer will make your life just a tad bit easier. I know, I know. This is the extra step that often seems fussy, but trust me, it’s worth it. Using a meat thermometer takes the guess work out of cooking pork chops, and that’s “a good thing.” The temperature you pull your chops at is totally up to you, but here’s a quick guide to choosing the right temperature for your taste. As always, give the meat some time to rest before digging in. Five to ten minutes should do the trick.

  1. 120°-130° F: This is comfortably at medium rare. Warning! You will see pink, and that’s is perfectly fine (See the USDA tips for cooking pork). The pork chop will be rosy-pink on the inside and super juicy.
  2. 130°-140° F: For those who are not comfortable with pink pork, this might be the right temperature zone for you. There will be a touch of pink in the center, but for the most part the flesh will be white. The meat will still be nice and juicy.
  3. 140°-145° F: No pink here! The meat will be completely white all the way through. Pork chops at this temperature will still have the potential to be juicy, just be sure to pull them from the oven on the lower end of this spectrum, as the chops will continue to cook even after they’re out of the oven. Anything past 145° F is the danger DRY zone, so keep a close watch.

Other than that, good luck and happy eating!

Serves 4

Ingredients:
For the Feta Cheese Filling:
3 tablespoons feta cheese (crumbled)
2/3 cup diced sun dried tomatoes
1 tablespoon fresh Italian parsley, minced
1 teaspoon olive oil

Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, taste

For the Pork Chops:
4 bone-in pork loin chops
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, taste

For the Glaze:
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375° F.

Mix feta cheese, tomatoes, parsley and olive oil in a bowl. Use the tip of a sharp boning or paring knife to cut a 3-inch slit in the side of each pork chop, 2 inches deep and 1/4-inch away from the bone, to make a pocket for stuffing. Stuff pork chops with feta cheese filling and secure with toothpicks.

Season pork chops with salt and pepper.

In a small bowl mix together butter, rosemary, and garlic. Set aside.

In cast iron or oven safe skillet over medium-high heat, heat olive oil then add pork chops. Sear until golden, 4 minutes, flip and cook 4 minutes more. Brush pork chops generously with garlic butter.

Place the skillet in oven and cook until cooked through, 10-12 minutes. Serve with more garlic butter, if desired.

pork-chop-verticalPhoto Credit: Ethan Calabrese, 2018.

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Heirloom Tomato, Cheddar and Bacon Pie

 

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Photo: Hector Sanchez; Styling: Heather Chadduck, 2013

Southern Living Magazine raised the ante on classic tomato pie with a sour cream crust studded with bacon, layers of colorful tomatoes, and plenty of cheese and herbs to tie it all together. Nobody wants a soggy tomato pie, so for best results, seed the tomatoes and drain the slices before baking.This recipe is a bit time consuming and may take up to three hours to prepare,  but it is sure worth the effort!

RECIPE BY SOUTHERN LIVING
June 2013

Serves 6 to 8 

Ingredients:
For the Crust:
2 1/4 cups self-rising soft-wheat flour , such as White Lily®
1 cup cold butter, cut up
8 cooked bacon slices, chopped
3/4 cup sour cream

For Filling :
2 3/4 pounds assorted large heirloom tomatoes, divided (*See Cook’s Notes)
2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1 1/2 cups (6 oz.) freshly shredded extra-sharp Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup freshly shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons fresh dill sprigs
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 scallion, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons plain yellow cornmeal

Directions:
Prepare Crust: Place flour in bowl of a heavy-duty electric stand mixer; cut in cold butter with a pastry blender or fork until mixture resembles small peas. Chill 10 minutes.

Add bacon to flour mixture; beat at low speed just until combined. Gradually add sour cream, 1/4 cup at a time, beating just until blended after each addition.

Spoon mixture onto a heavily floured surface; sprinkle lightly with flour, and knead 3 or 4 times, adding more flour as needed. Roll to a 13-inch round. Gently place dough in a 9-inch fluted tart pan with 2-inch sides and a removable bottom. Press dough into pan; trim off excess dough along edges. Chill 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare Filling: Cut 2 pounds of tomatoes into 1/4-inch-thick slices, and remove seeds. Place tomatoes in a single layer on paper towels; sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt. Let stand 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425°F. Stir together Cheddar cheese, next 10 ingredients, and remaining 1 tsp. salt in a large bowl until combined.

Pat tomato slices dry with a paper towel. Sprinkle cornmeal over bottom of crust. Lightly spread 1/2 cup cheese mixture onto crust; layer with half of tomato slices in slightly overlapping rows. Spread with 1/2 cup cheese mixture. Repeat layers, using remaining tomato slices and cheese mixture. Cut remaining 3/4 lb. tomatoes into 1/4-inch-thick slices, and arrange on top of pie.

Bake at 425° for 40 to 45 minutes, shielding edges with foil during last 20 minutes to prevent excessive browning. Let stand 1 to 2 hours before serving.

 

*Cook’s Notes:
To learn more about how to seed and drain tomatoes, please see Tori Avey’s tutorial at the following link: How to Seed Tomatoes

And a method is briefly outlined below:

  1. Place your tomato on a cutting board, stem side facing up.
  2. Roll the tomato sideways so the stem faces to the right, and cut the tomato down the center “equator” line into two halves.
  3. Use a small spoon or a quarter spoon melon baller to scoop the tomato seeds and any tough white core out of the four seed cavities. Discard the seeds.

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Cuban Chicken Soup with Plantain Dumplings

sopa2.jpg

Recipe adapted from the cookbook
Cuba! Recipes and Stories from the Cuban Kitchen
by Dan Goldberg, Andrea Kuhn and Jody Eddy
2016

The winter doldrums continue and there is nothing more perfect than a comforting bowl of chicken soup to warm your soul.

But wait!

This is not your grandmother’s chicken soup and dumpling recipe, unless you’re fortunate enough to have a Cuban grandmother. With its long simmering time and the addition of calabaza, a tiny orange-and-white squash, this is a wonderful way to warm up on a chilly day. The additional of Bijol, a traditional Cuban blend of ground achiote, cumin and corn flour, infuses the soup with a pleasant yellow color, but if you don’t have a Latin specialty market in the neighborhood, a pinch of turmeric makes a good substitute. The plantain dumplings are a lovely combination of sweet and savory, but they do not hold well. If you have leftover soup, the dumplings will completely disintegrate overnight. If you are not planning to eat all the soup in one dinner serving, add only enough dumplings to suit your hunger pangs, then freeze the soup without dumplings and whip them up whenever you are ready to dive into the leftovers.

And like every recipe, this soup has many variations throughout the Caribbean and Latin America. In Ecuador it is known as Caldo de Bolas and in Columbia, it is called  Sopa de Pollo y Platano Verde. Where as in Puerto Rico it takes on the name  Sopa De Pollo con Mofongo which is considered the Puerto Rican version of Matzah Ball Soup. Imagine that!

Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients:
For the Soup:
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts*
1 yellow onion, diced
2 celery stalks, sliced 1/2 inch thick
2 carrots, sliced 1/2 inch thick
4 garlic cloves, very thinly sliced
2 1/2 quarts chicken stock
2 cups calabaza squash, cut into 1-inch dice
2 tomatoes, diced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Bijol (optional)*
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

For the plantain dumplings:
2 ripe plantains, peeled
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 egg
1/4 cup finely ground yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup rice flour

Directions:
In a large pot over high heat, combine the chicken, onion, celery, carrots and garlic. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 25 minutes.

Using tongs, remove the chicken from the pot and set aside to cool slightly. Using 2 fork, shred the chicken into bite-size pieces. Return the chicken to the pot and add the squash, tomatoes, cumin cinnamon and Bijol. Simmer over medium heat until the squash is tender, 10 to 15 minutes.

While the soup is simmering, make the dumplings: Place the plantains in a microwave-safe bowl with 2 teaspoons water and cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Microwave until very soft, about 2 minutes. (If you don’t have a microwave, place the plantains in a fry pan with 1/3 cup  water, cover with a tight-fitting lid and cook over medium heat until the plantains are soft, 12 to 15 minutes. NOTE: Do not use any more water than this or  the plantain’s sweetness will leach out into the water. Sprinkle the plantains with the salt and pepper and mash them with a fork until smooth. Add  egg, cornmeal and rice flour to the plantain mixture until a combined. Roll the mashed plantain into smooth balls about 1 inch in diameter.

Drop the plantain dumplings into the soup and cook for 10 minutes. Remove the soup from the heat, season with salt and pepper, and stir in the parsley. Ladle into bowls and serve immediately.

*Cook’s Notes:
Six to seven bone-in chicken thighs can be substituted for the chicken breast if you like more flavor to the soup.

If Bijol or tumeric are not readily available, Goya Sazon Culantro y Achiote® seasoning is available in most major supermarkets and grocery stores. With its combination of garlic, cumin, coriander seed, it can be the perfect seasoning for this soup, also giving a vibrant red orange color that is visually appealing.

All photographs and content, excepted where noted, are copyright protected. Please do not use these photos without prior written permission. If you wish to republish this photograph and all other contents, then we kindly ask that you link back to this site. We are eternally grateful and we appreciate your support of this blog.

Thank you so much!

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