A take on traditional pesto, the filling for these pork chops is amped up with sweet raisins and fresh herbs for a sweet-and-savory Mediterranean flavor.
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With a sharp knife, make a horizontal slit in each pork chop to create a 3-1/2-inch-long pocket.
In a food processor, combine the mint, parsley, tarragon, pecorino, 3 Tbs. of the oil, the garlic, lemon zest, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper. Pulse until finely chopped. Add 1/2 cup of the pine nuts and pulse until the nuts are roughly chopped. Stir in the remaining 1/4 cup pine nuts and the raisins. Season the insides of the pockets with salt and pepper and stuff with the filling. Secure the pockets with toothpicks. Season the outside of the meat generously with salt and pepper.
Heat 1 Tbs. of the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering hot. Sear 3 of the pork chops on both sides until well browned, about 6 minutes total; transfer to a large rimmed baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining 1 Tbs. oil and the remaining pork chops. Top each chop with a piece of butter and roast in the oven until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the pork chops registers 145°F, 10 to 12 minutes. Discard the toothpicks and serve drizzled with the pan juice.
Make a fresh salad and Classic Roasted Potatoes to serve with the chops.
95% of my pork chop recipes end up disappointing me. This was company food! WOW!The stuffing is fabulous. Be sure to make twice as much as it says. I did use dried cranberries because I thought it would be seasonal and good. It was! The mint did not overpower anything. The flavors were subtle but far from bland. If you have leftovers, you can either freeze it or use it on chicken, pasta, or sandwiches. YUM!Be sure to get really thick, bone-in chops. I think that's what really made the difference. Undercook, rather than over-cook, since it continues to cook once it's out of the oven.I served it with rice and roasted vegetables. Ausgezeichnet!
Made 12 chops for 10 guests with no leftovers - always a good sign. When removing the chops from the oven, cover them immediately until you serve them - like chicken breasts, the meat can dry out very quickly. The mint pesto/raisin combination was delicious. Plumping the raisins in boiling chicken broth (or water) for 10 minutes before adding them to the pesto would moisten the chops a bit. I also do this before adding raisins to rice and it helps spread that raisin flavor around! The hardest part was making pockets in the chops - is the pocket supposed to be 3 1/2" wide, or deep? One chop didn't survive the pocket-making process and was served plain :-) And don't get me started on removing the toothpicks...but really, a minor complaint, and a task I left to the guests.
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