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WND – Crunchy Baked Pork Chops

March 6, 2008

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Here’s what I do when I go to bookstores. I wander around the sci-fi section to see if there’s anything new out that I have any interest in reading. I meander down to the YA section to see what’s out, and usually jot down the names of a couple of books to look up at the library. Then I go over to the magazine section and collect the new editions of Bon Appétit, Gourmet, and Cook’s Illustrated and settle down with a silly coffee drink to peruse my stash.

Cook’s Illustrated is like doing the required reading for school during the summer. You know it’s good for you, but you don’t always enjoy it. Sometimes you get Austen instead of Hardy*, and you fall a little bit in love, and sometimes you’re a geek and don’t really mind doing the summer reading (unless it’s Hardy, because I’ve yet to be able to work myself up to a state of excitement about Hardy). On the other hand, Bon Appétit is like Playboy. Whatever you might say in polite company, you’re not reading it for the articles. You’re reading it for the pretty pictures of food that you will never ever make. The covers of the two magazines are a perfect illustration of their various merits. Cook’s Illustrated has sensitive water colors of food on the cover; Bon Appétit has glossy food porn.
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Leaving aside the fact that Cook’s Illustrated isn’t always the most exciting magazine to read, it’s usually the more practical source of information. In the wildly unlikely event that I start packing three course brunch picnics at the drop of a hat on a Sunday morning I’ll consult Bon Appétit. In the distinctly more likely event of wanting to make lasagna that tastes like lasagna (as opposed to something with noodles and lobster and sauce that calls itself lasagna) I’ll pull out an old volume of Cook’s Illustrated.

Cook’s Illustrated is produced by the folks at America’s Test Kitchen, and is headed up by Christopher Kimball who lives in a farm house in Vermont and goes maple sugaring, which is so far from anything that resembles my life it’s hard to believe that we work in the same city, but that’s Vermont** for you. The best thing about America’s Test Kitchen is that they’re not out to create new and different recipes, their mission is to perfect the classics and figure out how to make them as fool proof as possible.

Translated this means that if you get a recipe from Cook’s Illustrated it will tell you exactly how much of x to use, and how long to stir it. I don’t mind the grandmother style recipes that call for some of this, and enough of that and to cook it until it’s done, but only if I know what it’s supposed to taste like at the end. America’s Test Kitchen has eliminated as much of the guess work in a recipe as possible. They’re kind of like Julia Child in the way they break recipes down to their component steps, but generally much less daunting than mastering the art of French cooking.

Crunchy Baked Pork Chops
Mashed Potatoes
Apple Sauce
Broccoli

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* Apologies to Hardy fans.
** Apologies to people who live in Vermont, which is a lovely state, and has the merit of not being New Hampshire which is also lovely, but is populated by the more than slightly eccentric (state motto: Live Free or Die, which mostly means that when you cross the border into New Hampshire you’re confronted with my favorite road signs in the world – “Buckle Up Under Age 18; Common Sense for All”). I want common sense for all to be my secret super power.

Crunchy Baked Pork Chops (courtesy of Jan/Feb 2008 Cook’s Illustrated)
(serves 4 – I doubled the recipe)

Brine *
¼ cup table salt
1 quart water
4 boneless center-cut pork chops (about ¾-1 inch thick, trimmed of excess fat)

Dissolve the salt in the water in a medium container or large zip lock bag. Submerge the chops and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Rinse the chops in cold water and dry thoroughly.

Breading
4 slices hearty white sandwich bread
1 small shallot, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
2 Tbsp parmesan cheese
½ tsp fresh thyme
2 Tbsp parsley

Pulse the bread in a food processor until coarsely ground.

Transfer bread crumbs to a rimmed baking sheet and toss with the shallot, garlic, salt, pepper and vegetable oil. Bake in a 350 oven until the crumbs are a deep golden brown and dry, about 15 minutes, stirring twice during baking time.

Cool to room temperature and then toss with parmesan, thyme and parsley.
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Egg Wash
3 egg whites
3 Tbsp mustard
6 Tbsp flour

Whisk together the egg whites and the mustard until combined. Add the flour and whisk until almost smooth (pea sized lumps will remain).

Assembly
In one pie plate place ¼ cup flour.
In a second pie plate place the egg wash.
In a third pie plate place the bread crumb mixture.

Lightly grease a wire rack, and place over a rimmed baking sheet (this allows both sides of the pork chop to have a crisp crust). Preheat oven to 425.

Season the dried chops with pepper. Dredge in the flour and shake off the excess. Coat with the egg wash, letting the excess drip off (or kind of wiping it off against the side of the dish). Coat the chop with the bread crumbs on both sides, pressing gently so a thick layer of crumbs adheres to the chop. Transfer to the wire rack.

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Bake chops about 17-25 minutes, or until a thermometer reads an internal temperature of 150. Let rest on rack for 5 minutes then serve with lemon wedges.

The breaded chops can be frozen for up to a week. They don’t need to be thawed before baking, just increase the cooking time to 35-45 minutes **.

* I found the brining made the pork chops a little too salty (although admittedly very moist). I think next time I’ll either use less salt in the brine, or soak them for less time.

** I breaded the pork chops on Tuesday night and then froze them, so that all I had to do with them on Wednesday was throw them in the oven which made my life so easy.

Notes: The recipe looks simple and yet I’ve made Thanksgiving dinner with less mess. I’m not sure if I was just off my game, or whether it really is that labor intensive. I’ll have to make it again to determine the exact answer to this. It probably didn’t help that I then turned around and made custard, but what else are you going to do with six egg yolks? The toasting breadcrumbs with the onion and garlic did make the house smell good though.

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3 comments

  1. […] Recipe previously given:    Crunchy Baked Pork Chops […]


  2. […] it tough as shoe leather. So, if you have thicker pork chops you can either, (a) braise them; (b) bread them and roast them in the oven; or (c) cut them in half to make thinner chops and pan fry them, which is what I did last […]


  3. I have to agree with you about the mess and the time! We wouldn’t be eating until 1030pm, if I wasn’t off today and got a head start! Thank you for this recipe and your tips at the bottom, very helpful.



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