Yum: Bread Crust Stuffed Pork Chops (on the cheap!)

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This is budget cooking that kicks ramen noodles' ass(es?). Don't get me wrong, I love me some instant ramen but this is so much better and still super affordable. See how I combine inexpensive pork chops with leftover bread crusts to make this tasty meal after the jump!

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First up - these guys are always on sale at the grocery store. And three good-sized pork chops for a little over $5 is too good to pass up. But grocery store pork can be pretty lean and flavorless and after cooking to the recommended 145 degrees, I often had tough, boring pucks of meat on my hands.

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But this time, I had a bag full of pesky bread crusts and those end pieces that no one likes. Because I abhor waste, I thought I could turn them into a stuffing that would add flavor and moisture to my pork. And huzzah! The sum of the two was greater than the parts.

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To add lots of flavor to my stuffing, I diced up some onion, garlic, celery, mushroom, scallion and sage and browned them well in butter before tossing in my bread crumbs and some chicken stock for moisture.

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Then I cut a pocket into each of my pork chops, and in went the stuffing. As much as I could get in there without it all spilling back out again.

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Next, a good sear on each side in an oven-proof skillet (except for that guy on the right, I don't know why he's so pale). And finally, into the oven to finish cooking.

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Bread Crust Stuffed Pork Chops

Ingredients: 3 pork loin chops (1-inch thick) 2 celery stalks, diced small 1/2 medium onion, diced small 1 clove garlic, minced 1 cup small diced button or cremini mushrooms 3 leaves sage, finely chopped 2 tablespoons butter 2 cups fresh homemade breadcrumbs (see note below) or 1 cup dry store-bought    breadcrumbs 1/2 cup chicken broth salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350°

2. Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook for a few minutes until just translucent. Add the celery, mushrooms and sage and cook for another five minutes or until the celery is tender but still has a little crunch. Season with a teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Add in the breadcrumbs and mix well. Pour in chicken broth a little at at time until the stuffing is slightly moist but still fluffy. Taste and add additional salt and pepper if needed.

3. Cut a pocket in each pork chop by slicing carefully into one side. Smoosh as much stuffing as you can into each pocket. Secure with string or toothpicks (or if you're lazy like me, skip this and just be really careful when flipping your chops). Season generously on each side with salt and pepper.

4. Pour 2 teaspoons of oil into an oven-proof skillet and sear the chops on high heat until well browned (about 3 minutes per side). Cover the skillet, pop in the oven and bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes or until a thermometer inserted into the center of the pork chop registers 145°. Rest 5-10 minutes and remove string or toothpicks before serving. Thicken pan juices if desired.

NOTE: To make homemade bread crumbs out of bread crusts -Toast the breast crusts in a toaster oven until they are golden brown and crusty. Break into large pieces, then whiz them in a food processor until you have coarse, chunky crumbs. For this recipe, don't worry about getting your bread crumbs too small or uniform.