Pork chops do not need to be special occasion. I know this. I have been eating pork chops with applesauce since I was a kid. Yet I was intrigued when I saw a recipe in Bon Appetit last July called Father’s Day Pork Chops. If I had known they would turn out this beautiful, I would have been making them all winter long. The story in the magazine did not do these things justice.
I guess the reason I hadn’t made these yet is that I rarely think to buy pork chops. I swing more in the easy direction of pork tenderloins. But my boss had bought a few sample loins from a farm nearby and had them cut into chops so we were all able to take a couple home. They was a mad dash to the cooler and out we walked with two fat, 12 oz bone-in chops in our hands.
My co-workers were full of talk about how they were going to prepare theirs, but I didn’t have any good ideas, figuring I’d dig through my binder of recipes at home. Two recipes caught my eye as I flipped through the pages looking for anything mentioning pork chops. I studied the first one, Roasted Pork Chops with Lemon, with interest and then confusion. I’m sure it’s delicious but it was literally roasted pork chops served with lemon wedges. I have no idea how that rated good enough to keep. Maybe there’s a recipe for a chocolate coconut pie on the other side of the page?
The second recipe was for the Father’s Day Pork Chop. And even though it seemed decadent and not-at-all healthy, it beckoned me to give it a shot. After all, a fried pork chop would be a nice treat for my husband to find when he came home from work. A night off from chicken — wooo!
Still there were a few things in the instructions that threw me off a little. The first was that the pork chops needed to be pounded…even though they are bone-in. I have never done that before, but what the hell. I brought out my little cast-iron sauté pan and got to work. That took the chops from this thickness —
to this thickness —
Next up was the second part that I found interesting — a quick soak in red wine vinegar. And not a diluted vinegar brine, just straight up vinegar. I was smart enough to google this recipe prior to making it and the vinegar bath seemed to be a dividing factor amongst reviewers. Some people absolutely hated it, one saying that the pork was so sour she got sick just remembering it. Others said it gave the chops a nice tang and kept them juicy. I decided to combine tricks from all of the reviewers — I used a blend of apple cider vinegar and red wine vinegar and cut the soaking time down to thirty minutes. (You can see in the picture above how the chops went from being bright red to a light pink after the soaking process.)
After I gave them a quick rinse and patted them dry, I prepared them for their breading session.
The chops are first coated in flour, then an egg wash and finally a lightly seasoned (lemon zest, thyme and oregano) batch of Panko. Then they are ready to be fried to perfection.
And oh, were they ever perfect. I was worried the breading would stick or crumble off, but no, these things cooked up like a champ. Mine were a little bigger than the recipe recommended so after they were browned on both sides I tossed them in the oven to finish cooking. In retrospect I’m not even sure that was necessary, they were done before I knew it. However the quick brine really did ensure that they remained moist and juicy — no dry pork chops for me to gnaw on.
A heaping spoonful of roasted veggies and this dinner was done. No sauce needed, just sweet porky love.
Make this. Make it now. Go out and buy pork chops. It is worth it.