Dishing Up Maryland for this post, in part because I could tell right away that this was going to be a dinner that looked much better in person than it would in a photograph. I also want to draw attention to what is shaping up to be a very nice part of our cookbook collection -- both on our shelf and in our church's online store.
The selection of Tuesday's dinner menu started last week, when we decided to add a package of Farmer's Choice pork chops to our weekly order of delicious, organic milk from Crescent Ridge Dairy. We turned to the Dishing Up Maryland book when looking for a way to do justice with this pork that began with local grain fed to free-range, local pigs.
The only pork-chop recipe in the book begins with recommendations to shop the Greenbranch or Whitmore farms in Maryland -- this is a volume that celebrates local food! Of course, adjusting to our own locale was perfectly appropriate.
The recipe calls preheating the oven to 350 and then nearly splitting the chops lengthwise to form little pockets -- for the small, boneless chops we had, this was a bit of a challenge. I seared these in a small amount of EVOO and then set them aside. I added a bit of butter to the pan (indispensable cast-iron, of course) where I cooked finely chopped onion, celery, and apple. Here Snodgrass has specific apples to recommend, but I used what was in our fruit basket. Once the onion was soft, I added some cubes of wheat bread and salt, pepper, rosemary, thyme, and sage. I had never used fresh sage in my life. I had no idea what I was missing! I then added chicken broth (she calls for beef or vegetable) and dried cranberries and stirred until it looked like stuffing.
Rather than try to toothpick the chops back together, I spooned the stuffing in snugly, and set each chop on its side in a baking pan. I then baked for about 25 minutes. These chops were thin; otherwise the recommended 45 minutes might have been required.
We each enjoyed two small chops with some basmati rice left over from a recent burrito night, and considered it a complete -- and delicious -- meal. The stuffing was amazing and will give me plenty to think about in November, as I plan the Thanksgiving stuffing. I am very glad Pam found the high-karma dried (albeit sweetened) cranberries at Trader Joes. Had I gone with Craisins, we would not have known how delicious this stuffing could be. Of course, with a 45-minute cook time, blanched fresh cranberries would also have worked.