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Pork Chops Stuffed with Pine Nuts and Herbs

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Serves 6

  • by Samantha Seneviratne from Fine Cooking
    Issue 110

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. 

  • 6 center-cut, bone-in pork loin chops (1-1/4 inches to 1-1/2 inches thick)
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley
  • 1/3 cup fresh tarragon
  • 1/3 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano (1/4 oz.)
  • 5 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 medium cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup pine nuts, toasted 
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins
  • 1 Tbs. unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 400°F.

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.

Serving Suggestions

Make a fresh salad and Classic Roasted Potatoes to serve with the chops.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 440; Fat (g): 33; Fat Calories (kcal): 300; Saturated Fat (g): 7; Protein (g): 25; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 15; Carbohydrates (g): 11; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 8; Sodium (mg): 230; Cholesterol (mg): 65; Fiber (g): 1;

Photo: Scott Phillips

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.

Really good and easy to put together. Made as written but decreased the mint as I feel it can overpower a dish. I'm not a raisin fan but they are important--sweet and pork always work together. A nice change from my other stuffed pork recipes.

This recipe is a keeper. Low prep time and quick to cook. I prefer to brine the chops and test for done with an instant read termometer touching the bone (bone in chops taste best) showing 130 to 135°F. A few minutes rest completes the cooking. The raisins are a sweet surprise. Not to many, just don't leave them out. Juris Sulcs

I made a couple of substitutions. Toasted walnuts instead of pine nuts. It worked just fine and was much less expensive. Instead of just salt and pepper, I used a Greek seasoning on the outside and didn't use the salt. The pan drippings made a really good gravy that we used instead of just drizzling them on top. This one was easy and the results looked as good as it tasted.

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