4 (12-oz. to 14-oz.) bone-in pork rib chops, each 1½ inches thick
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
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4 thin slices double-smoked ham
4 slices Gruyère cheese
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 large eggs
1½ cups plain dry breadcrumbs
1½ cups panko
4 fresh sage leaves
Canola oil, for frying
1. Give the pork chops a quick cure for added flavor: Mix together 1 teaspoon salt and the sugar, sprinkle this over both sides of the chops. Leave them to cure for 30 minutes at room temperature or up to four hours in the refrigerator.
2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
3. Blot the pork chops dry and cut a pocket into the chops all the way to the bone, and as wide as you can without cutting through to the side, leaving a 2-inch wide opening. Stuff each chop with 1 slice of ham and 1 slice of cheese, cut to fit the pocket.
4. Prepare three shallow bowls for breading the chops: fill one with the flour, one with the eggs, and one with the breadcrumbs and panko. Season the breadcrumbs with one-half teaspoon each of salt and pepper, and lightly beat the eggs.
5. Lay one sage leaf on each pork chop. Carefully coat one chop at a time with flour, shaking off any excess; dip it into the egg, covering the surface and letting the excess drip off; and then bury it in the breadcrumbs, gently patting to make them adhere.
6. Heat two large skillets over medium-high heat and add enough oil to reach one-half inch up the sides. When hot, add the pork chops and cook until the bottom turns dark golden brown, three to five minutes. Flip and cook the other side to the same color. Transfer the chops to a baking sheet fitted with a rack, and bake until the chops feel firm when pressed and a bit of cheese is beginning to escape from the pockets, about five minutes.
7. Serve hot.
Adapted by Akron Beacon Journal from “The New Midwestern Table: 200 Heartland Recipes” by Amy Thielen ($35, hardcover, Clarkson Potter).