How to make it

  • Note:
  • Prepare the stuffing while the chops brine. (The stuffing can also be made a day in advance, but it must be microwaved just to room temperature before being packed into the chops.) One stuffed chop makes for a very generous serving. If desired, remove the meat from the bone and cut it into 1/2-inch slices to serve 6.
  • 1. TO BRINE THE CHOPS: Using sharp paring knife, cut 1-inch opening into side of each chop, then cut pocket for stuffing (see illustrations below). Dissolve sugar and 1/4 cup salt in 6 cups water in large bowl or container; submerge chops, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  • 2. TO MAKE THE STUFFING: In food processor, pulse bread and pine nuts until evenly ground, about ten 1-second pulses.
  • 3. Heat oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering; add garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add spinach; using tongs, turn spinach to coat with oil. Cook, stirring with tongs, until spinach is wilted, about 2 minutes. Transfer spinach to colander in sink and gently squeeze to release excess moisture; cool spinach until just warm.
  • 4. Mix together fontina, ricotta, and Parmesan in bowl. Add spinach and bread crumb mixture; using spatula, mix well to break up clumps. Squeeze juice from lemon wedges into small bowl; reserve juiced wedges for sealing stuffing pockets in chops. Stir 1 tablespoon lemon juice, salt, nutmeg, and pepper to taste into stuffing.
  • 5. TO STUFF AND COOK THE CHOPS: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position, place rimmed baking sheet or shallow roasting pan on rack, and heat oven to 450 degrees. Remove chops from brine and rinse under cool running water; pat dry with paper towels. Place one-quarter of stuffing in pocket of each chop. Trim reserved lemon wedges from stuffing recipe to 2-inch lengths; insert one lemon wedge into each pocket to contain stuffing. Sprinkle chops with salt and pepper.
  • 6. Heat oil in heavy-bottomed 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until just beginning to smoke. Arrange chops in skillet and cook without moving chops until well browned, about 3 minutes. Using tongs, flip chops and cook until well browned on second side, 2 to 3 minutes longer.
  • 7. Using tongs, transfer chops to preheated pan in oven; cook until instant-read thermometer inserted into center of stuffing registers 135 degrees, 15 to 20 minutes, flipping chops halfway through cooking time. Transfer chops to platter, tent loosely with foil, and let rest 10 minutes (internal temperature will climb to 145 degrees). Serve immediately.
  • Note: Stuffed Pork Chops -- Cutting the Pocket
  • 1. Insert sharp paring or boning knife through side of chop until tip touches bone. Carefully cut opening to width of about 1 inch. 2. Swing knife tip through chop to create pocket, being careful not to widen opening. Turn knife and swing blade in oppposite direction. 3. Finished pocket should be as large as possible.

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