Today we are looking at pork chops and the various ways they are made in Northern Italy. It helps that we have fresh pork from a local pig, but it was surprisingly difficult to find a Northern Italy pork chop recipe. Most of the recipes we found were from Central or Southern Italy which I found both interesting and inspired the challenge to find an authentic recipe. I learned that typically beef, veal, and pork are the meats of choice, with lamb and other animals playing a lesser role (to learn more about the different regions, check out a great article I found!)
Moving onto the recipe, we ended up combining two recipes – one for sauce and one for the stuffed pork chops. The pork chop recipe we took from the book “Make it Italian, the taste and technique of Italian Home Cooking” and the sauce is from a Today.com recipe, Lidia Bastianich’s Pork Chops Milanese. Both recipes include Northern Italian cuisine, but the pork chops are from Italy’s smallest region, Valle d’Aosta, which is tucked in the northwest tip of Italy. The cook book described that area as “the region justly famous for its Fontina cheese, which local cooks melt over polenta, stir into white-truffle-accented fonduta.” Another name for the pork chop dish is “Costoletta Alla Valdostana!” Both recipes did say to use veal but, but pork chop was used due to availability.
One more note before moving onto the delicious recipes, we did halve the recipe because it was just the two of us. Being sauce obsessed, we made sure there was plenty of Amatriciana sauce to dip bread and pork chops into. Enjoy the pictures and the recipe below:
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 ounces slab bacon or pancetta, finely chopped
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1 (28-ounce) can whole Italian plum tomatoes, preferably San Marzano, crushed by hand
- 1/2 to 1 tsp Kosher salt
- Heavy pinch crushed red pepper flakes (we love Burlap and Barrel “Cobanero Chili Flakes”
- 3 cloves garlic
- 4 Pork Chops, 1 inch thick
- ¼ pound Italian Fontina cheese, thinly sliced
- About 1/3 cup flour seasoned with salt and fresh ground black pepper for coating
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 eggs beaten with 2 teaspoons of water
- 1 ½ cups plain dry breadcrumbs
- About 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
- About 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Truffle oil (if desired)
For the Amatriciana sauce:
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
Add the bacon or pancetta, and let the meat render its fat until it begins to crisp, about 3-4 minutes. Then add the onion and cook until the onion begins to soften, about 3 minutes (be sure to stir often so it doesn’t burn on the bottom). Crush about 3 cloves of garlic and cook about 3 minutes or until translucent. Stir in a pinch of salt and red pepper flakes and cook for 1 minute.
Add the tomatoes, plus 1 cup of water and bring to a simmer. Turn the stove to medium low and cook until thick and flavorful, about 30-45 minutes.
For the pork chops:
- First, French cut the pork chop.
- Make pockets for the cheese by slitting the chops horizontally, halfway through, slicing almost to the bone
- Use a quarter of the cheese for each chop, and lay the pieces flat inside the pocket, keeping them ¼ inch away from the outside edge. Pound the chops until they are only about ¾ inch thick, and to seal the edges closed.
- Bread and cook the pork chops as described below:
- Spread out the flour and breadcrumbs on two separate plates or sheets of wax paper. Beat the eggs in a wide, shallow bowl until thoroughly blended.
- Dredge the chops in flour to coat them lightly and tap off any excess. Dip them in the beaten egg, letting the excess drip back into the bowl. Move the chops to the breadcrumbs, and turn them over to coat completely, patting each gently to make sure the breadcrumbs adhere.
- Heat vegetable oil and butter in a large skillet over medium heat, making sure oil is at least ¼ inch deep. Use moderate heat, hot enough for the vegetable oil to sizzle when the pork chops are added but not so high as to brown beyond a deep-golden brown color. Fry pork chops in batches, turning once, until golden on both sides, about 8 minutes.
- If they aren’t up to temperature after frying, feel free to throw into oven at 400 for about 5-6 minutes or until no trace of pink remains near the bone.
- Remove when cooked, drain on paper towels and serve immediately.
To serve: Place the chops on plates, drizzle truffle oil (if desired) and serve the sauce on the side (this keeps the crust crispy). Serve with salad or a side of your choice.
We ended up with lots of sauce and decided to save it for another meal later on this month! This adventure was truly a success and something we will be making much more often. The cheese melted in the middle and the sauce simmered for about 45 minutes, and all the flavors melded together perfectly.
We hope you enjoyed our latest blog post. Please leave comments and likes! We would love to hear if you tried any of the recipes and anything you learned along the away. Until the next adventure, we will say “addio”!