Bone-in chops would be perfect for this meal, but would most likely need to be special ordered since they need to be 1¼-inches thick. If you’re on friendly terms with your local butcher, super thick bone-in chops are preferred. If you would like to avoid the special order, hand cutting your own loin chops from a pork loin is the best option. These chops need to be thick enough to form a deep pocket and still have about ½-inch of meat on either side of the stuffing.
As the name implies, these chops will get a healthy dose of mushrooms. Here we’ve used cremini mushrooms, but any firm, fresh mushroom will do. Shitakes, chanterelles and even the pure vanilla button mushrooms will work just fine. Like all fresh produce, they should be cleaned before use. We can ignore the erroneous folklore about mushrooms absorbing ambient water like a sponge: it just doesn’t happen. So feel free to rinse your ‘shrooms under running, cold water to dislodge any debris collected during harvesting and shipping. Do give them a few moments to dry, especially specimens that have nooks and crannies where excess water can hide out such as the chanterelle. Keep the stems or pitch ‘em; it’s up to your own culinary preference.
With the pocket cut in each loin and stuffing filling the void, we have to treat these chops as if they are only half their thickness when we grill them. A mammoth inch and a quarter chop would require between five and six minutes a side to finish somewhere between medium rare and medium, the doneness we’re after. But these chops are done in just half that time, roughly three minutes a side is all it will take to perfectly cook these chops. You’re wondering how the stuffing will ever cook in just six minutes on a grill. We’ll avoid that problem by just cooking the stuffing beforehand. A quick sauté in a hot pan, and the onion, mushrooms and spinach will soften perfectly.
No doubt about it, these chops go together in about 20 minutes flat, from prep to plate. The mushrooms keep their gentle firmness due to the short cook times all around. Only a few minutes in the pan and barely any time at all on the grill. To complete your meal, grill or sauté baby asparagus in olive oil and coarse salt and fresh ground black pepper.
If speed is of the essence, flavor doesn’t have to suffer. These chops will be sure to please and satisfy.
Mushroom stuffed Pork Chops
- 4 pork loin chops or bone-in chops, 1¼-inch thick
- 6 ounces mushrooms such as cremini, chanterelles, shitake or button, rough chopped
- 2 cups fresh baby spinach, coarsely chopped
- 1 medium red onion, diced rough
- 2 tablespoon butter, plus additional if needed
- 2 cups stale bread cubes
- salt and fresh ground black pepper
- ½ cup apricot preserves
Preheat grill to high. Trim chops of excess fat and then cut a pocket almost all the way through each chop. If you are using bone in, cut all the way to the bone for the pocket. Leave the sides connected by a very thin strip of meat. Soak 8 wooden picks in a small bowl of water. Set aside.
Melt the butter in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Saute the onion in the butter until it’s just barely soft, about 2 minutes. Season with ½ teaspoon ground salt and fresh ground black pepper. Add the mushrooms and saute for an additional 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add additional tablespoons of butter if the pan becomes dry. Add the spinach and stir until the spinach is wilted, about 30 seconds. Remove from the heat. In a large bowl, combine the bread cubes and the mushroom mixture, stir to combine.
Divide the stuffing between the chops. Secure each opening with two soaked wooden picks. You don’t need to close the pocket over the stuffing; the picks will help hold it in place while it grills. Season both sides of the chop with ground salt and pepper. Turn the grill down to medium low and grill chops for 3-4 minutes a side. While the chops are grilling, heat the apricot preserves until they are melted and hot. Once the chops are done, plate each chop and spoon apricot preserves over each.