It’s full on fall, and I’m in the mood for one thing: pork chops. Well, that actually means two things, because who would dream of eating pork chops without applesauce? I don’t know about your local market, but mine is currently being invaded by apples fresh off the tree. It’s the prefect time to showcase some homemade applesauce. A jar of store-bought applesauce may do the trick in February. But right now the apples are so fresh that they sound like a firecracker when you take a bite, and it’d be a sin to not let them shine in some really delicious saucy-ness.
Pork chops were in the regular dinner rotation at casa Winner when we were kids. But they were the bone-in kind, with a sticky, dark, syrupy sauce. They were unctuous and delicious and they’d melt right in your mouth. Seriously finger-licking, lip-smacking goodness. And they were always served with applesauce. The perfect bite was equal parts meat and apple and so good! It was one of the few times we were allowed to eat with our fingers and actually suck on the bone.
Imagine my surprise when I discovered shortly after college that you could get boneless chops – perfect little ovals, encircled in thin border of fat. They almost looked like chicken breasts. How could this possibly be the same thing? Coinciding with the launch of the “Pork: the other white meat” advertising campaign, I thought for sure they must have come up with some new part of the pig to call the pork chop.
It’s funny how you grow up knowing one thing, and one day see it through completely new eyes. For instance, we had lunch meat sandwiches with bologna and american cheese all the time in our school lunches. Then one day I was babysitting for a friend of the family, and she made me a “cold cut” sandwich with turkey and muenster cheese. This sandwich may as well have been flown in directly from France. I came home so excited to have had this new, exotic sandwich! How deflating to find out that it was another variant of b-o-r-i-n-g lunch meat. I guess it is true that you know what you know, until you know something else.
Well THESE porch chops are something new! They are super juicy and have a crunchy coating that packs a flavorful punch. Likewise, this applesauce is no Mussleman’s. With 2 secret ingredients (bay leaf and all spice), the apples’ sweetness is perfectly balanced for a more “grown up” version of the classic. Paired with the chops, you have a variety of textures to entertain your palate: crunchy breadcrumbs, moist juicy pork, and soft chunks of the applesauce.
You can have this dinner on the table in an hour, including the brine time. Just a little over 1/2 hour if you stick the chops in the brine ahead of time. The bread crumbs need to cool before breading, and the applesauce cooks in the same amount of time as the pork chops, so prep the crumbs and get the applesauce on the stove, then work on the pork. Enjoy!
Crunchy Baked Pork Chops
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From: America Test Kitchen TV/Cooks Illustrated
Time: 1 hour, including brine
4 boneless pork chops, about 1” and 6-8 oz each
1 quart water
1/4 cup kosher salt
4 slices sandwich bread
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 shallot, minced
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
6 tablespoons flour
3 egg whites, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons dijon mustard
2 tablespoons parmesean cheese, finely grated
2 tablespoons dried parsley
2 tablespoons fresh thyme
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Rinse and trim the pork chops. Brine the chops for 30 minutes in a zip top bag filled with 1 quart water and 1/4 cup kosher salt. Refrigerated, covered while brining.
Cut the crusts off the bread, and tear into 1” pieces. Pulse in food processor until coarse bread crumbs result.
Mix bread crumbs with the garlic, shallot, vegetable oil, and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Toss well to coat, then spread evenly on a baking sheet.
Toast the bread crumb mixture in the oven at 350 degrees until well browned – almost burning, stir once – about 15 minutes. Transfer crumbs to a plate to cool.
Turn the oven to 425 degrees.
Prepare the flour, and egg wash in shallow dishes for breading. To make the egg wash, combine the egg whites and dijon until well incorporated.
Add the parmesan cheese, parsley, and thyme to the cooled bread crumbs. Transfer to a third breading dish.
Prepare a baking sheet with a wire cooling rack set on top of it. Spray the rack with Pam to keep the chops from sticking.
Rinse the chops, pat dry, and season with pepper. (No need to salt, the brine did that)
Dredge the chops in flour, shake off excess. Then dredge WELL in the egg mixture. Coat with bread crumbs.
Set the prepared chops evenly spaced on the wire rack/baking sheet, and bake for about 20 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 150 degrees.
Rest 5 minutes before serving.
Notes: The bread crumbs won’t brown much when they go into the oven for the second time on the pork chops, so make sure they are well browned from the initial toast.
Even though meat is typically left to rest for 10 minutes, serve this dish after 5. Any longer and the coating will start to get soggy.
Click here to print this recipe.
Recipe from: Gourmet Magazine, September 2003
Time: 25 minutes
3 lb apples, preferably McIntosh and/or Gala
1/4 cup water
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 Turkish or 1/2 California bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
Peel, core, and coarsely chop apples.
Stir together with remaining ingredients in a 3-quart heavy saucepan.
Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally.
Reduce heat to moderately low and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until apples are falling apart, 15 to 20 minutes.
Discard bay leaf and mash apples with a fork.
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