Friday, December 21, 2007

Had a hard day...such a hard day.

Now that I'm finally on vacay (WHOO-HOO!), it's Cyd's turn to have it rough at work. The stress has something to do with an end-of-the-year audit and/or covering for an absent co-worker there at Dunder-Mifflin...who knows? I get a daily recounting at dinnertime, but like Chandler Bing, no one really understands what she does! In any case, this has been an interminable week for my poor roommate, so when she had special requests for dinner last night, how could I refuse her? Actually, I don't mind making dinner--I do it almost every night--but the worst part is deciding what to have, don't you find that to be true? All I know is, we can't subsist on Christmas cookies alone! So the deal was that she tells me specifically what she wants, and I'll make it. Sounds dangerous, eh? Actually, it turned out so well that I decided I had to blog about it! But as usual when I go off on my own in the kitchen, I don't have a precise recipe to share afterwards, but I'll try to get close (because I also want to remember what I did for next time so that I can do it again!). Cyd's request? Pork chops stuffed with blue cheese with a side of twice-baked potatoes. And they were both delicious, if I do say so myself! Here's what I did:

For the stuffed pork chops, I started by toasting and chopping about a half cup of pecans.Then I sauteed half of an onion (chopped) and two cloves of garlic (minced) in a little olive oil. In a small bowl, I combined the nuts and onion and garlic with goodly amount of crumbled blue cheese (use as much as you like--I probably used a little less than the nuts, so maybe 1/3 cup?) and about a tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce. Then I cut a pocket in each of four pork chops (my loin-end chops were not ideal for this--you should try to use center-cut and the thicker the better) and stuffed the filling inside. At this point, you can secure them with toothpicks if you feel strongly about it. Then I seasoned the chops liberally on both sides with salt, pepper and granulated garlic (remember, never too much garlic is my motto, but you can adjust the garlic level to your taste), and I browned them on both sides in a large skillet with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. When the chops were all but cooked through, I stashed them in a warm oven while I got on with making a simple pan sauce. I deglazed the skillet with a scant half cup of red wine and reduced that for a few minutes. Then I whisked in 3-4 tablespoons of flour and enough chicken stock to reach the desired consistency for the sauce, probably between 2-3 cups all told (beef would have probably been more appropriate, but I had homemade chicken stock on hand). Finally, I seasoned the sauce with salt and pepper (to taste), and a good glug of Worcestershire sauce (at least a tablespoon), and then spooned the sauce generously over the stuffed pork chops. Truly, to die for good!

Now if it were left up to me, I would simply serve these chops with plain, steamed rice to soak up all their saucy goodness. But Cyd hates rice and had requested twice-baked potatoes. So I nuked some medium-sized Yukon Golds for ten minutes. Then I sliced them in half and, using a melon baller, I carefully scooped out the potato innards into a small bowl (leaving just enough around the edges of the peel to keep the halves sturdy). Then I added about a tablespoon of mayo, another of chives, a handful of shredded cheese, and some salt and pepper, and then gave the potatoes a quick mash. I filled each potato half with this mixture, placed them on a lined baking sheet, topped each with another sprinkling of cheese, and popped them in a hot (400 F) oven for about 15 minutes until heated through and the topping was lightly browned. Easy and yummy! All you need to complete this dinner is a simple green salad or the steamed veg of your choice.

So if you're having a tough day, or the Christmas preparations are getting to you, consider making this scrumptious meal for yourself. It's sure to make it all better...that is, until you have to decide what to make again tomorrow night! Tee hee.

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