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Porchetta Pork Chops

I've just realized this is my third blog post in as many days and I bet you're wondering what on earth is going on?? My bloggery has been spotty, at best, for the last year or so but I've been stockpiling recipes and photos...and I've decided to clear the queue to make way for all the food and essays I have planned for 2018! 

So today, I give you porchetta pork chops. The first meal I made for our Italian exchange student, Joele, who lived with us last year -- I figured it was a good way to welcome an Italian boy into the Dougherty clan. I love the porchetta roast from Fraboni's in Madison -- it's made the proper way with a pork belly rolled up with spices and fresh herbs.  But since I didn't have a spare pork belly in the freezer, I settled on a close second -- thick-cut, bone-in chops from a butcher near Hudson, WI (thanks to our pork connection -- Eric). 

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Porchetta Pork Chops

8 pork chops, bone-in
2 tablespoons crushed red pepper
3 tablespoons fennel seeds
6 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons fresh rosemary, minced
1 1/2 tablespoon fresh sage, minced
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
1 1/2 tablespoon lemon zest
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil

Preparation
In a small sauce pan over medium heat, toast the crushed red pepper and fennel seeds until fragrant (about 2 minutes) and then grind in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the remaining ingredients (except the pork chops and olive oil) and add the ground fennel and red pepper.

Cut a 1 1/2 inch slit into each pork chop about 1 teaspoon of the spice mix into each pork chop. Put the remaining spice mix on the outside of each pork chop and place in the refrigerator, uncovered, for 4 - 6 hours. 

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place 2 tablespoons of olive oil into a cast iron skillet over medium-high and (in three batches) cook the pork chops about 3 minutes per side, or until browned but not cooked through. Place each completed batch of pork chops on an unlined sheet tray or large roasting pan and when you have all the chops browned, place in the oven for 7 - 10 minutes, or until the reach an internal temperature of 145 degrees. Let rest, uncovered, for about 5 minutes and then serve.