Start to Finish: 90 to 100 minutes
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Difficulty Level: Beginner
Stuffing thick boneless pork chops with a savory herbed cream cheese filling adds flavor to this elegant main dish while keeping the meat moist and juicy. To achieve a crispy exterior, coat the outside of each stuffed pork chop in panko bread crumbs before baking the chops to golden, crunchy perfection. Serve these succulent pork chops with fresh steamed vegetables and a crisp salad for a simple meal that tastes like you've been cooking for hours. This recipe is adapted from Cooking Light's recipe for pork chops stuffed with feta and spinach.
Herbed Cream Cheese Stuffing
- 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 1/4 cup minced fresh herbs such as parsley, oregano, basil, dill or chives
- 1 minced clove garlic
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 scallion, minced
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
- 10-ounce package of frozen spinach, thawed
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 4 boneless pork chops, preferably 1 1/2 to 2 inches thick
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Herbed cream cheese
- 1/2 cup flour
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs
Make the Herbed Cream Cheese
Combine the cream cheese, herbs, garlic, onion powder, minced scallion and lemon zest in a mixing bowl. Stir the ingredients thoroughly to combine everything together.
Gently fold the thawed spinach into the cream cheese mixture. Season the stuffing with salt and pepper to taste, if desired.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill the mixture for approximately 60 minutes to allow the flavors to meld together.
Prepare the Pork Chops
Cut a pocket into each pork chop, using a clean, sharp knife to make a deep horizontal slit that goes through the thickest part of the chop without going all the way through to the other side.
Sprinkle both sides of each chop with salt and pepper and arrange them on your cutting board reserved for the raw meat.
Set up a dredging station by lining up three shallow bowls in your work space. Fill the first with flour, the second with egg and the third with panko bread crumbs.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Grab the bowl of cream cheese stuffing from the refrigerator. Divide it evenly, spread it in the pocket of each pork chop and close the pockets.
Working one at a time, dredge each pork chop in the flour, egg and panko bread crumbs to evenly coat both sides. Arrange the pork chops in a greased baking pan.
Bake the pork chops for approximately 35 to 45 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part reads 145 degrees F. Allow the chops to rest for 3 minutes before serving them.
Once you have the basic recipe down pat, you can mix things up and create numerous variations. Some ideas include the following:
- Swapping the filling to switch your dish. For example, to make jalapeno popper pork chops inspired by food blog Skinny Taste's jalapeno popper chicken, skip the herbed cream cheese. Instead, combine 3 ounces softened cream cheese with 4 ounces shredded sharp cheddar cheese, 2 tablespoons chopped scallions, 2 cooked and crumbled slices of center cut bacon and 3 minced jalapenos.
- Adding extras to the filling for more flavor. For example, add a hint of Mediterranean flair by mixing 3 tablespoons of crumbled feta and 5 chopped sundried tomatoes into the cream cheese filling. Season the panko bread crumbs with oregano and a little garlic powder for more flavor.
- Experimenting with crunchy coatings. Panko bread crumbs add a light, crispy crunch, but they're not the only game in town. Try using crushed buttery crackers, potato flakes or cereal to find the coating that works best for you.