Saturday, October 24, 2009

Crunchy Oven-Baked Pork Chops

I tend to love recipes like these, where a classic (like fried pork chops) is tweaked to make it healthier (baked instead of fried). This recipe, though, was the best one I’ve tried yet. I got it on Baking Bites, but it is adapted from a recipe created by America’s Test Kitchen (the Engineer’s favourite reference). It was really good, perfectly crispy and well seasoned.

I used thinner pork chops than what the recipe calls for, so I reduced the cooking time accordingly. Feel free to use different cuts of meat (and I think this would work quite well with chicken breast, too). I also used 12-grain bread, not white sandwich bread, but the result was quite good. Finally, I used a grill rack instead of a cooling rack, so I should have greased it a bit more (some of the coating stuck to it).

3 cloves garlic
1 large shallot
4 slices of sandwich bread
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
salt and pepper, to taste
½ cup all-purpose flour
3 large egg whites
3 Tbsp Dijon mustard
6 Tbsp all-purpose flour
4 ¾-inch thick boneless pork chops

Preheat oven to 350 °F.

In a food processor, whizz garlic and shallot until very finely chopped.
Break sandwich bread up into large chunks. Add bread to the food processor, along with the garlic and shallot, and pulse bread until uniform crumbs form. Add vegetable oil, salt and pepper and pulse a few more times to mix well.

Spread crumb mixture into an even layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring once, until crumbs are a dark golden brown. They will not brown much once they are on the pork chops, so aim for a very deep brown.
Set aside to cool for 10-15 minutes.

Turn oven up to 425 °F. Lightly grease a wire rack (like a cooling rack) and place on a baking sheet.
In a large dish or pie plate, place ½ cup of flour.
In a medium bowl, whisk together egg whites, Dijon mustard and additional 6 Tbsp flour until a smooth batter forms. Pour into another large dish or pie plate.
Place cooled breadcrumbs into a third dish or pie plate.

Pat pork chops dry with a paper towel and trim off any excess fat. Working with one at a time, coat each completely in flour, dip into the egg batter and thoroughly coat with crumbs. Make sure to coat all sides of the meat. Use tongs if you don’t want your hands to get too messy. Place each pork chop on the prepared, lightly greased rack.

Bake for about 25 minutes, until the pork registers 155 °F with an internal read thermometer.

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