Monday, January 26, 2015

Stuffed Pork Chops with Maple Dandelion Greens

Time to step-up your dinner game.  These stuffed pork chops are super fancy and look like a main course at a 5 star restaurant.  Full of creamy goat cheese, earthy mushrooms, bitter dandelion greens, and smoky sweet maple syrup, there is nothing to loose and everything to gain from making these for dinner tonight!

I bet you just questioned my sanity using dandelion greens for dinner.  Aren't they just a pesky weed that everyone tries so hard to get rid of?!  Well, yes.  These greens are the same greens that super-root in your yard, producing a yellow flower that turns to seed and spreads like wild-fire.  But before you just pull all those dandelions up this spring and trash them, let me briefly talk about the amazing health benefits they offer.

Why Dandelion Greens?  To start with, these greens are higher in beta-carotene than carrots, contain more iron than spinach, and are rich in calcium, vitamin C, vitamin K, B vitamins, potassium and magnesium.  Basically they are one of the most nutrient dense greens around. Dandelion greens have a slight bitterness that stimulates the release of digestive juices, proving to be a potent digestive aid.  They are used to stimulate and cleanse the liver as well as aid with skin complexion, and are often used for detoxification.

These leafy greens pack a powerful punch.  You can chop them raw and add a handful or two to a salad, or in a green smoothie.  Just be warned that they are fairly bitter, so only add a small amount to a salad, or make sure to use plenty of sweet fruit in a smoothie to mask the bitterness.  I used a tiny amount of maple syrup in this recipe, and the dandelion greens are just fantastic.  Don't be surprised if you can't find dandelion greens at your local grocery store, as they are not a super common green. They might turn up sporadically, or wait for the spring when you can walk out of your house and pick your dinner...for free!  The best time to harvest dandelion greens in early spring before they flower. At that time they are the most tender with the least amount of bitterness.  You can also sub the dandelion greens for your favorite greens of choice such as kale, spinach, collard greens, etc.

I like to make extra maple dandelion greens and serve it on the side of these stuffed chops because it is so tasty!  Expand your food horizons with dandelion greens, and whip up this fancy gourmet meal to impress and delight.

Stuffed Pork Chops with Maple Dandelion Greens

For the stuffing:
1 bunch dandelion greens
10 oz baby bella mushrooms, washed and sliced thin
1 small yellow onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 oz goat cheese
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 tsp pure maple syrup
salt and pepper, to taste

For the pork chops:
4 4oz boneless pork chops
salt, pepper, garlic powder
1-2 Tbsp pasture raised butter

cast iron skillet

1.  Cut the bottom quarter portion off the dandelion greens and discard.  Chop the rest of the greens into 2 inch segments and place in a large bowl.  Fill the bowl with water and soak the greens, to remove any dirt/sand on the leaves.  Move the greens to a strainer, rinse the bowl, and repeat another one or two times.  Dandelion greens tend to have more grit on them than other leafy greens so I like so super soak and wash them before preparing.
2.  Heat the oil in a pan on medium heat.  Add the onions and saute for about 5 minutes, or until translucent.  Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, another minute.
3.  Add the mushrooms.  Season with salt and pepper, and cook for 5-7 minutes until the mushrooms are tender.
4.  Turn the heat off and add the red wine vinegar, maple syrup, and goat cheese.  Mix well until the goat cheese is melted.  Set aside.

5.  Preheat the oven to 350 F.  Cut a slit in each of the pork chops, creating a pocket to stuff the filling in.  Think pita pock opening.
6.  Divide the dandelion green mixture between the four pork chops. Pack in well, it's ok if the stuffing is overflowing.  If you think that you have more filling than will fit in the pork chops, put some of the stuffing in a separate bowl before stuffing the chops to serve on the side (and not get raw pork on!).  Generously sprinkle the top of the chops with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
7. Heat the butter in a cast iron on high.  Using a spatula, gently spread the butter around the pan to evenly coat it.  Continue pushing the butter around the pan until it is good and hot.  The butter will foam and begin to turn brown.  Thats when you add the pork chops, seasoned side down.
8.  Sear the chops for 1-2 minutes (this time will depend on the type/heat of your stove).  As soon as you add them to the pan, season the top side (unseasoned side) of the pork.  You want the chops to be nice and golden brown when you flip them.
9.  Flip the chops and sear the other side.  Place in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the pork reaches 145 F.  Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving.