Cooking with Kelly

Stuffed pork chops, with a Caesar salad for starters and creme brulée for dessert.
Stuffed pork chops, with a Caesar salad for starters and creme brulée for dessert.
(photo credit: Jessica Bratton, Spark)
Special occasions deserve special food. I wanted to find an entree that wasn’t complicated to make, but would look like it was when I served it. Stuffed pork chops had everything that I was looking for, so I turned to Chef Tanner Dunlop, the executive chef at Caffe Gelato in Newark. He assured me that the pork chops were perfect for my special occasion dinner.

To start out, you have to make sure you get a really thick pork chop, or else this won’t work and your stuffed pork chop will just be a pork chop with a bunch of stuff leaking out of it. Chef Tanner likes to use a rib chop, with the bone in. It makes for a good presentation and it gives the pork chop more flavor.

Chef Tanner Dunlop – Executive Chef
Chef Tanner Dunlop – Executive Chef.
background: He graduated from The Restaurant School in Philadelphia in 2001, and went on to work Marie Callender's and at Kelly McGillis' (from "Top Gun") restaurants in Key West, where he was head chef at Kelly's Caribbean. specialty dish: Chicken Liver Mousse with Bosc Pear Chutney
He serves his pork chop with a celery root demi-glace. A demi-glace is a lot of work, especially if you make your own stock because, by definition, demi-glace is a veal stock reduced by half. (Making stock takes a minimum of 12 hours. And you have to find some veal bones to start.) I’ll be buying a can of stock, adding some vegetables and then reducing it. Chef Tanner assured me that I’d be fine. If you decide to make the demi-glace, reduce that stock by half and add the sliced celery root that you’ve roasted at 350 degrees for about an hour.

Chef Tanner said that a special occasion doesn’t just deserve a special dish — it should get a whole special menu. So he showed me how to make a grilled Caesar salad (I know this sounds odd — grilling lettuce — but believe me, it’s great), porcini mushroom infused barley and white chocolate Grand Mariner creme brulée. To find these recipes and more of Chef Tanner’s tips, go online to

Tanner’s Tips

  • All is not lost if you’re cutting the pocket in your porkchop and you accidentally go all the way through. Just push the part that shouldn’t be cut back together and sew it closed with a bamboo skewer. Bake it with the skewer in, and when it’s done, take the skewer out. No one will ever be able to tell that you screwed up.
  • Everything here can be easily made in advance. You can stuff the pork chops and cook the squash the day before and just heat the squash up in the microwave. You can also make the creme brulée and barley the day before and just put the finishing touches on before serving.
  • A cheap and easy way to make your presentation look professional is to put your dressings and sauces in a squeeze bottle and squeeze them onto the plate.

Stuffed Pork Chops Ingredients

10 oz. pork rib chop, cut thick
3 slices prosciutto
3 slices Manchego or Asiago cheese, sliced about a quarter-inch thick
Baby spinach
2 butternut squash
Brown sugar
4 Tbsp. butter

Take the pork chop and make a 1-1/2 inch long incision horizontally, along the side. Make it as long as the pork chop, but without cutting all the way through. You just want to make a pocket.

Stuff the prosciutto, cheese and spinach into the pocket you made. Sear the pork chop in olive oil in a very hot pan for about two minutes on each side, until it’s browned. Then bake at 350 degrees for about 12 minutes, turning after six minutes, until the chop springs back when you press on it. Slice on an angle and serve.

Cut the butternut squash in half and take the seeds out. Sprinkle the cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice on the squash. (The spices are put on to taste, so if you really like cinnamon, load it up.) Add a generous sprinkle of brown sugar in the center of each squash half and top it with the butter.

Bake at 350 degrees for about two hours, until the flesh is soft. Then scrape with a spoon so it looks like spaghetti and serve with the pork chop.

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By Kelly Housen

Originally published November 2005 at
Copyright ©2005, The News Journal.
Reprinted by permission