I figure now’s as good a time as any to tell you about the most delicious pork chops ever to exist.
Seriously. That good.
We’re talking crunch. Not just your average crunch, though. There’s nothing average about this crunch. This is the kind of crunch that can only be achieved through homemade bread crumbs. But, not your average homemade breadcrumbs.
These are the kind of breadcrumbs you toast first. In the oven, on a baking sheet. With oil. And shallots. And garlic.
Still not convinced? Let me just tell you – something magic happens when you toast breadcrumbs before using them. After baking them into a deep golden brown loveliness, you toss them with Parmesan. And thyme. And parsley.
I know I’ve got you now.
I think the other key step in achieving the ultimate crunch is how they’re baked: on a wire rack placed over your baking sheet. This allows the underneath of the chop to feel the same love from the oven as the top.
If this still isn’t enough to entice you, maybe you should think about trying this wilted spinach salad with warm bacon dressing. All you do is fry up some bacon, cook some shallots in your bacon grease, and whisk in some balsamic at the end. Toss that up with your spinach and bacon, and all will be well.
Crunchy Baked Pork Chops
Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated, via Smitten Kitchen
This recipe was developed using natural pork, but enhanced pork (injected with a salt solution) will work as well. If using enhanced pork, eliminate the brining in step 1. The bread crumb mixture can be prepared through step 2 up to 3 days in advance. The breaded chops can be frozen for up to 1 week. They don’t need to be thawed before baking; simply increase the cooking time in step 5 to 35 to 40 minutes.
- Table salt
- 4 boneless center-cut pork chops, 6 to 8 ounces each, 3/4 to 1 inch thick, trimmed of excess fat
- 4 slices hearty white sandwich bread, torn into 1-inch pieces
- 1 small shallot, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
- 3 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 tablespoon)
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- Ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
- 1/4 cup plus 6 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
- 3 large egg whites
- 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- Lemon wedges
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Dissolve 1/4 cup salt in 1 quart water in medium container or gallon-sized zipper-lock bag. Submerge chops, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate 30 minutes. Rinse chops under cold water and dry thoroughly with paper towels.
Meanwhile, pulse bread in food processor until coarsely ground, about eight 1-second pulses (you should have about 3 1/2 cups crumbs). Transfer crumbs to rimmed baking sheet and add shallot, garlic, oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Toss until crumbs are evenly coated with oil. Bake until deep golden brown and dry, about 15 minutes, stirring twice during baking time. (Do not turn off oven.) Cool to room temperature. Toss crumbs with Parmesan, thyme, and parsley.
Place 1/4 cup flour in pie plate. In second pie plate, whisk egg whites and mustard until combined; add remaining 6 tablespoons flour and whisk until almost smooth, with pea-sized lumps remaining.
Increase oven temperature to 425 degrees. Spray wire rack with nonstick cooking spray and place in rimmed baking sheet. Season chops with pepper. Dredge 1 pork chop in flour; shake off excess. Using tongs, coat with egg mixture; let excess drip off. Coat all sides of chop with bread crumb mixture, pressing gently so that thick layer of crumbs adheres to chop. Transfer breaded chop to wire rack. Repeat with remaining 3 chops.
Bake until instant-read thermometer inserted into center of chops registers 150 degrees, 17 to 25 minutes. Let rest on rack 5 minutes before serving with lemon wedges.