Sunday, February 5, 2012

Baked Breaded Pork Chops

Remember when I nearly killed my poor little pork chops with an overzealous broiler?  Nope.  Neither do I.  The tragic memory will probably resurface some day in a dream brought on by too much late-night snacking, but for now I've blocked out the memories of charred meat in favor of beautiful golden pineapple and mouth-watering tropical sauce. 

Oh, and a couple days later I actually did make some pork chops that turned out like they were supposed to.  They're simple, basically foolproof, and would taste great with pretty much anything on the side.  The recipe comes from The Best 30-Minute Recipe by the editors of Cook's Illustrated and America's Test Kitchen.  (I foresee more than one blog post inspired by this cookbook!)

I made a couple small changes to the original recipe.  First, I used saltine crackers in place of Melba toast.  I'm sure the Melba toast would taste even better, but I didn't want to go out and buy any, and the saltines ended up tasting fine.  Second, the recipe called for boneless, center-cut pork chops (1 inch thick), but I used the bone-in pork chops from the co-op instead.  Since they're huge, I cut each one in half (you should get six servings out of each package).

P.S.  You can get the recipe for the delicious salad I made as a side here; unfortunately, it uses too many unusual ingredients to deserve a whole post.  I substituted regular shredded mozzarella for the smoked mozzarella; otherwise I made the recipe as written.  Be forewarned that it makes a huge batch; you might want to make a half recipe unless you're cooking for the whole neighborhood.

Baked Breaded Pork Chops
Serves 4
Time:  30-35 minutes

5 ounces crushed saltine crackers (about 1 1/4 sleeves)
salt and ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. minced fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp. dried thyme leaves
1/8 tsp. sugar
6 T. mayonnaise, divided
4 pork chops (see note above)

Preheat oven to 425 F.  Mix crackers, 1/2 tsp. salt, and next 5 ingredients (through sugar) in shallow dish.  Add 2 T. mayonnaise and work evenly into crumbs.

Pat chops dry with paper towels; trim off excess fat and season with salt and pepper.  Cover chops completely with remaining 1/4 cup mayonnaise (I used my fingers to work it in a little), then cover thoroughly with cracker mixture (including sides).  Press on crumbs to make sure they adhere.  Transfer breaded chops to a wire rack set on rimmed baking sheet (this keeps them from getting soggy and/or burned on the bottom).

Bake until coating is golden brown and centers of chops register 140 degrees, 18 to 22 minutes.  Remove from oven and let rest until centers of chops reach 150 degrees before serving, 5 to 10 minutes.

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