It was a success, crispy crunchy outside, tender juicy meat inside… I usually murder pork chops till they’re all dry and tasteless, but this recipe saved my poor pork chops from a horrible demise.

Crunchy Baked Pork Chops (from smitten kitchen) is the way to go, and will be a keeper for me!  At first I thought the home made bread crumbs would be a little too much, and was tempted to use store bought… don’t do it!  They are SO worth the minimal amount of extra work they take.  Mmmm.

breaded pork chop

Crunchy Baked Pork Chops
Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

Serves 4

CI notes: 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
1-2 small shallot, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
3 Large garlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (I used Olive 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 (I used Boar’s Head Tomato Pesto Mayonaise)
Lemon wedges

1. 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.

2. 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 with your hands until crumbs are evenly coated with oil. Bake until deep golden brown and dry, about 15 minutes, stirring twice during baking time (Very important to stir and keep an eye on these, they will burn left unattended). (Do not turn off oven.) Cool to room temperature. Toss crumbs with Parmesan, thyme, and parsley.

3. Place 1/4 cup flour in pie plate. In second pie plate, whisk egg whites and mustard (or substitute) until combined; add remaining 6 tablespoons flour and whisk until almost smooth, with pea-sized lumps remaining.

4. 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.

5. 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.  (NOTE: I ended up having to turn the over down to about 375, and bake about 5-10 min longer, because the crust was getting burnt without the pork cooking properly…it’ll probably depend on your oven.)

I didn’t have the energy to make any fabulous side dishes to accompany this work, so I just made some white rice and steamed some fresh green beans in the microwave with butter & Mrs. Dash… it turned out to be a perfect compliment to the flavorful meat.  =)