A family favorite down memory lane. This was a singular dish for us in the Rivera household. It’s one of the prominent beauties featured in my first cookbook, Puerto Rican Cuisine in America (Running Press). Think of a fabulous Sunday dinner. I’ll admit, the dish takes time to prepare, but it’s worth every minute of the effort. The lowly pork chop comes up front as never before. You’ll never think of pork chops the same way again. This dish is not just for Sunday, but for whenever you want something special, even if it’s the middle of the week. Believe me, this is one recipe you’ll go back to again and again. You can serve it with gravy or without. If you’re a barbarian at heart (like some of us) you can pour ketchup over the chops and forget the gravy.
(Stuffed Pork Chops)
4 rib pork chops, 1½ inches thick (about 3 pounds)
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced
1 medium green bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
1 cup bread crumbs
½ teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon capers, drained
¼ cup flour
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons butter
- Rinse chops in cold water and pat dry with paper towels.
- Place chops, one at a time, on a cutting board and place one hand on top. With a sharp boning knife, cut chops lengthwise all the way to the rib, creating a small pocket. Be careful to keep the knife blade equidistant between the cutting board and the palm of your hand.
- Trim off excess fat and season inside and out with salt and pepper. Heat olive oil in a large skillet or frying pan. Add onion, garlic and bell pepper. Sauté over moderate heat for about 5 minutes. Stir in bread crumbs, rosemary and capers to complete the stuffing. Continue cooking for 3 minutes more.
- Fill each pork chop pocket with about ¼ cup stuffing. Close pockets by fastening together with wooden toothpicks.
- Pour flour on a flat plate and dredge pork chops in flour until they’re coated on both sides.
- Heat vegetable oil and butter in a large skillet (you can wipe clean and use the same skillet as before). Brown chops on both sides over low heat (about 8-10 minutes per side). Depending on the size of skillet you may have to cook them two at a time. When finished, reserve pan juices.
- Arrange chops in a greased, shallow baking pan. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake in a 350º preheated oven for exactly 1 hour.
- Remove foil and wooden toothpicks. Continue baking, uncovered, for about 45 minutes or until tender.
- Chops can be served as is. If a gravy is required, dissolve leftover flour in ½ cup water. Cook baking pan and reserved juices over moderate heat, adding dissolved flour while stirring. Cook until thickened and boiling. Strain and serve over chops.
Yield: 4 servings