Wednesday, October 14, 2009

savory baking: crunchy pork chops

America's Test Kitchen's weekly email from 9/11/09 featured a video about Crunchy Pork Chops. For whatever reason, I have not gotten on the video bandwagon. Yes, I realize YouTube is the most popular thing since sliced bread, and every other citizen of the world spends 18 hours a day watching videos online, but me? Not so much. Well, for whatever reason, this caught my eye, and I'm so glad it did! I watched the video and immediately raced out to reproduce this deliciousness for dinner.

It's a little time-intensive since they have you make your own bread crumbs, but you get a larger crumb than any store-bought bread crumb I've ever seen that retains an amazing crunch during baking. Totally worth your time. I even went ahead with the garlic they called for, and I can't recall the last time I cooked with garlic. (Also delicious, but not worth it in my case. Garlic=not my friend.) Final note: brining pork chops is a great idea! It helps them stay juicy. Even with thick chops, it's really easy to dry out a piece of pork, so this is a quick and easy tip. I ended up brining all six chops but only baking three, and I froze the other three already brined. I have since grilled them, with good results, but I don't officially know what, if any, impact there was on the brining/freezing/cooking process.

Bear with me on all these directions; the end result is gonna be this:

These pork chops were crunchy, tender, tasty, perfectly cooked, and deeply satisfying. In my soul.

Crunchy Pork Chops
4 thick slices of good bread
3 cloves garlic, smashed
1 shallot, diced
2 tablespoons oil
4 thick pork chops
1 quart water
1/4 cup table salt (I only have kosher salt; not sure if it matters)
3 egg whites
3 tablespoons dijon mustard
6 tablespoons flour, plus another 1/2 cup or so for dipping

First, make the bread crumbs. Pulse bread to coarse crumbs. Stir in 3 cloves smashed garlic, 1 diced shallot, and 2 tablespoons of oil. Toss. Spread on a cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes at 350F. Cool, then stir in some parmesan, parsley, and thyme. (I forgot this last step, but it was still great.)

Next, brine the pork chops for 30 minutes in the fridge in a mixture of 1 quart water and 1/4 cup table salt. Rinse and pat dry. Now preheat the oven to 425F.

In a shallow dish, whisk together the egg whites, mustard, and flour. This will be your egg wash, and it will give the chops a great taste, plus something hearty for the bread crumbs to stick to.

Before dipping, get everything set up: flour, egg wash, and bread crumbs for dipping, plus a cookie rack, sprayed with Pam, set over a cookie sheet. Dip the chops in flour to coat them lightly, and shake off the excess. Next, dip then in the egg wash, again, shaking off the excess. Finally, dip them in the bread crumbs and set them on the cookie rack. Bake for 20 minutes or until the chops reach an internal temperature of 150 degrees. Let them rest for 5 minutes.

Serve with applesauce, of course!

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