Having one of those nights when you want to make over-the-top, indulgent, date night food, but aren’t sure what to make? How about one of my favorite romantic dinner recipes – breaded cheese stuffed pork chops with a creamy pan sauce served over pasta!
It is a amazingly good and perfect for date nights, anniversaries, Valentine’s Day, or any other time you want to go all out.
Are you ready for something a little more complicated today?
I hope so, because today I have for you breaded cheese stuffed pork chops served with pasta in a pancetta cream sauce! Juicy meat, crisp breading, beautiful fresh herbs in the stuffing, and an indulgent side of pasta. Add a glass of wine and you have a romantic dinner all set.
This is date night food for people who love to cook.
Honestly, this is the type of more complicated and involved recipes I used to look for in the sea of ‘easy’ and ‘quick’ and ‘shortcut’ dinner recipes out there before I had a food blog. Sometimes I wanted to spend the day puttering in my kitchen and I know I’m not the only one! (In fact, if you want to make it even more involved, make fresh pasta instead of using the dried. Use ALL your equipment! 🙂 )
Often when I’m having a dinner like this, I’m at one of our favorite Italian restaurants where the chef makes this amazing stuffed chop, breaded and crispy, with yummy sides and it’s simply wonderful every time. But I can’t always get there and, since I’m also someone who loves to cook, I thought I’d bring it home.
It took me a few tries to get it right – the meat was dry (gotta brine!), the coating didn’t crisp right (breadcrumbs + flour FTW!), the sauce had too much going on (keep it simple!) – but once I did, I knew I had a recipe to rival my favorite restaurant and I had to share it with all of you.
Ready to get into the details?
I have lots of info on how to do this right the first time, including tips on workflow and how to make certain portions of the meal ahead!
What do you need?
- Pork Chops –
- Brine –
- Stuffing –
- Breading –
- Pan Sauce –
- Pasta –
How to make this
To make cheese stuffed pork chops, cut pockets into each then fill each pocket with cheese and herbs. After sealing the pocket with toothpicks, bread the chops, sear in a hot skillet, and finish in the oven. Finish with a pan sauce and serve over pasta.
1. Prep the pork chops
Step 1: Cut a pocket
I cut right from the meat side to the bone and then, keeping the opening fairly small, work the knife side to side so that most of the pork is cut in half. This will give you maximum room to fill with yummy cheese while still keeping the edge easy to seal up.
Step 2: Brine
I like to use a bag + a container when flavoring or brining meat. This keeps the brine (or marinade) right on what you’re making while also being prepared to catch any leaks.
This brine is very simple: water and salt. And you need to brine for 1-2 hours.
Tip: You can do this the day ahead. Brine, then drain and pat dry, and keep the meat in the fridge until you are ready.
2. Stuff and Bread
Step 1: Stuff
The stuffing is simple mixture of a flavorful cheese you like (I like fontina or havarti – both are flavorful and melt well) and chopped fresh herbs. Mix it all together and then stuff each pork chop equally. Press the stuffing all the way to the edges of the pocket and compress the stuffing until it’s all in the there.
Then take a wooden skewer – these 4 inch ones are just the right size – and sew the opening shut. I start on the edge of the chop just below the pocket and bring the skewer through to the top side of the pocket, pick up a little of the meat and come back down. With a long skewer I can do this a couple of times. If you are using toothpicks, use two and bring each one through once.
Tip: Keep an end of each skewer/toothpick easily visible so you can tug it out when the chops are cooked.
Step 2: Bread
Breading is just like breading anything else.
Except that I decided to streamline it a bit by putting the flour right in the breadcrumbs. Dip in the egg. Dip and press in the flour/breadcrumb mixture. And done!
Tip: They will be fine for a couple of hours (refrigerated) after breading. Just put them on a wire rack so the bottom crust doesn’t get soggy.
3. Cook the chops
No pictures of this bit. Sorry! But it is quite straightforward.
Heat oil in your cast iron skillet until shimmery. Add the pork chops. Sear them on each side until the crust is all golden brown. Then into the oven to finish.
Tip: I like to having everything prepped before I begin cooking. This reduces stress and keeps everything going smoothly since I’m ready for each step. Instead of doing prep now while the meat is in the oven, use this time to tidy, start heating the water for the pasta, and open the wine.
4. Make the pan sauce and pasta
Once the pork is out of the oven, move it to a plate (or a rack if you want to keep the bottom crust crisp) and tent it with foil. Then put the pasta into the hot water you started and get it cooking.
Step 1: Make the pan sauce
Add the pancetta (or thick cut bacon) to the skillet and cook over medium heat until all crispy. Then add the onion and garlic and get it softened. Add the tomato paste, heavy cream, capers, and sage along with some of the pasta water and bring it to a simmer.
Tip: Pasta water is key to silky sauces, the starchy salty water helps create a thick and flavorful sauce.
Step 2: Add the cooked pasta
Add the cooked and drained pasta to the pan sauce and simmer them together until the sauce is thick and coats the pasta. Add the basil to the sauce. Then taste and maybe add some salt and pepper if it needs it.
5. Eat, Drink, and be merry
You’re done! Time to enjoy your meal!
If you try my recipe for Cheese Stuffed Pork Chops with Pasta, I would love to hear from you in the comments with your experience and rating! And I’m happy to answer any questions you might have.
– Happy Eating, Annemarie
Herb and Cheese Stuffed Pork Chops with Pasta
- 2 thick cut, bone in pork loin chops
- 2 tbsp olive oil, for frying the meat
- 2 cups water
- 3 tbsp kosher salt
- 3 oz fontina or havarti, shredded
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh sage
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
Pasta and Sauce
- 5 oz pasta, such as orecchiette or cavatelli
- 3 oz diced pancetta
- 1 large shallot, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 tbsp capers
- 2 tbsp sliced fresh basil
- 2 tbsp sliced fresh sage
- Using a sharp knife, make an cut into the side of each pork chop right in the middle, opposite the bone. Cut all the way through to the bone to create a pocket.
- Put the chops into a gallon sized sealable bag and put the bag into a small baking dish. Mix together the water and salt for the brine and pour the brine into the bag. Seal the bag and put it into the refrigerator for 1-2 hours.
Stuff and Seal
- Mix together the shredded cheese and herbs.
- Remove the pork chops from the brine and pat dry. Open the pocket in each chop and fill with the cheese stuffing, making sure to fully fill the pocket.
- Using toothpicks or a small wooden skewer seal up the edge of the pocket by 'sewing' the side together. Make sure to leave a large enough end visible that you can remove the skewers later.
- Set out two wide bowls. In one whisk together two eggs. In the other mix together the breadcrumbs, flour, and parmesan cheese.
- Dip each chop into the egg, coating it on all sides. Then lay it in the breadcrumbs, pressing the crumbs into the sides and edges.
- Set the chops onto a wire rack (to keep the bottoms from getting soggy) and put them aside while you prep the rest of dinner.
- Heat oven to 350F.
- Heat the olive oil in a cast iron skillet over medium heat until shimmery. Add the chops and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side.
- Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake for about 15 minutes, or until the meat reaches 145F in the center.
- Remove to a plate and tent with foil.
Make the Pasta
- Heat a large pot of salted water. Once it comes to a boil, add the pasta and cook to the package directions.
- While the pasta is cooking, heat the cast iron skillet over medium and add the pancetta. Cook until crispy, about 5 minutes. Add the shallot and garlic. Cook 2-3 minutes.
- Scoop out 1 cup of pasta water and drain the pasta.
- Add the water, tomato paste, cream, sage, and capers to the skillet. Bring to a boil then add the pasta. Cook it in the sauce for a minute or two. Remove the skillet from the heat and add the fresh basil.
- Carefully remove the skewers from each pork chop. Serve with the pasta.
- Small Wooden Skewers: These are bamboo skewers about 4 inches long. You may find them at kitchen stores, some supermarkets, or order them online.
- Recipe Flow: Read the entire recipe before you begin. Note that you have brining time at the beginning and that the chops can rest for awhile after they are breaded (though put them in the fridge if it's going to be longer than about 30 minutes). Also, I would suggest getting the pasta water going while the pork is in the oven.
- Cast Iron Skillet: Be sure to use a heat proof glove or hot pad on the skillet handle after you take it from the oven.