This Week's Recipe--Crunchy Baked Pork Chops

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Mmmmm! Pork chops! I had some thawed out the other day and felt like trying something new. You know me...

The Recipe
This recipe comes to us from America's Test Kitchen. Apparently this episode aired sometime in 2008 and was also published in their magazine, Cook's Country. If you don't mind giving them your email address and getting a bunch of emails, you can find the recipe on America's Test Kitchen's website here. If you'd rather not be flooded by zillions of emails, you can just keep right on reading!

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 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

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 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.

3. 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.

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.

Andrea's Kitchen
I did a few little things differently. When making the breading, I didn't have the shallots, fresh thyme or fresh parsley. I did have dried thyme so I used that and skipped shallots and parsley. The other change I made was to the egg-mustard-flour mix. After I had whisked it all mine was really thick. Too thick to dip things into, so I added a splash of milk to thin it down a tad. I also didn't serve them with lemon wedges. Sorry--I'm fresh out of lemon wedges!

The Verdict
YUM! I loved how baking them on the cooling racks on the cookie sheet made them really crusty. I also loved the little bit of tang from the mustard. Mmmm! Everyone liked them! Of course, the girls ate theirs with ketchup, but still...:-) We'll certainly be enjoying these again soon!