Pork Chops with Mushroom Bread Pudding
- SERVINGS: 4
Juices from the browned pork chops seep into the bread pudding, flavoring it as it bakes. We used one-inch-thick chops here. If yours are thicker, put them in the oven sooner rather than cooking the bread pudding longer, so the eggs don't curdle.
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 rib celery, chopped
- 3/4 pound mushrooms, cut into thin slices
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 pound baguette (or other crusty bread), cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 1 quart)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
- 1 1/3 cups canned low-sodium chicken broth or homemade stock
- 3 eggs, beaten to mix
- 2/3 cup half-and-half
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil
- 4 center-cut pork chops, about 1-inch thick (about 2 pounds in all)
- Heat the oven to 325°. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish or a gratin dish of similar size. In a large nonstick frying pan, melt the butter over moderately low heat. Add the onion and celery; cook, stirring occasionally, until starting to soften, about 3 minutes. Increase the heat to moderately high. Add the mushrooms and thyme and cook until the mushrooms start to brown, about 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the bread cubes, 3/4 teaspoon of the salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish.
- Stir together the broth, eggs, and half-and-half. Pour the mixture evenly over the mushrooms and bread. Put the dish in the lower third of the oven and bake for 25 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat the oil in the frying pan over moderate heat. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper over the pork chops. Add the chops to the pan and brown, about 3 minutes per side. Remove the chops from the pan. Remove the bread pudding from the oven after it bakes for 25 minutes and set the pork chops directly on top. Return to the oven and cook until the meat is done and the pudding is just set, 10 to 15 minutes longer.
Pork and mushrooms each have an incredible affinity for Pinot Noir, so this combination of the two makes for an easy choice. Favor a slightly earthy French Burgundy over its fruitier brethren from other countries. A premier cru wine offers complexity and concentrated fruit flavor; a village-level wine will be lighter and simpler.