Versatility, thy name is pork chop

July 2, 2015

Yum. And more yum.  Breaded and fried yum, even.

Yum. And more yum. Breaded and fried yum, even.

I love me a pork chop. Fry him, bake him, grill him, cut him up in strips and stir-fry him, braise him in a casserole, I don’t much care; I love ’em. I could, truth be told, give up beef before I gave up pork. Eternally grateful God didn’t see fit to deposit me with a Muslim or Orthodox Jewish family.

So I was having veggies the other night, and nothing much goes better with summer veggies than a pork chop. And I had seen a post about pork tenderloin cutlets, the ones that are cut thin, pounded thinner, then coated in crumbs and fried quickly. And that sounded good.

I got out a couple of the loin chops I’d carved off the whole loin and frozen week before last, and thawed them. Then I set about trying to transform the one-inch-thick chop into a much thinner cutlet I could bread and fry.

This is WORK, y'all.

This is WORK, y’all.

Can I just tell you? If you’re going to do this, you MIGHT want to start with chops that are thinner than an inch. Now, granted, my meat mallet is a little on the puny side, and my arms are not the shape they once were, but it took a LONG damn time to pound those chops out into 3/8-inch-thick cutlets. I was aiming for a quarter inch, but I gave up on ever getting that last eighth. I must have whaled away on those things for 20 minutes. (I named them first, before I went to pounding. It was a nice bit of relief. No, I won’t tell you what I named them, or more to the point, who I named them for. But I have voodoo dolls that bear the same names.)
So, I salted and peppered the cutlets, and set up my dredging station; bowls of flour, egg/milk wash, and crumbs. And quickly figured I needed to alter that because the pounding had also expanded the chops to cover more surface territory, and the bowls were a mess waiting to happen. So the flour and crumbs went on dinner plates, and the egg wash into a pie plate, all three lined up next to the stove. This is a dish-intensive process.

I heated some peanut oil (canola would have worked too) on medium high and when it was hot, dredged the first cutlet in flour, dipped it in egg wash, and then in the crumbs, which were crushed Rice Chex, or a generic variety thereof. They made a good enough bread crumb that I don’t worry with the real thing any more. Into the hot oil they went, sizzling happily when they hit. About five minutes on a side, and they were a nice golden brown, and nicely crunchy.

They did, as Grandmama used to say, “draw up” a little, shrinking in surface area and getting a little thicker as they cooked; they wound up something over a half-inch thick, which was thicker than I wanted, but they were still tender and moist inside, so I’ll take it. A better job of flattening/tenderizing would have helped. As would have starting with a thinner piece of meat in the first place.

This is a really simple, but really good, entree. It’s fairly quick to make, but for the tenderizing/flattening step. It lends itself nicely to a dipping sauce or sauce drizzled over it, should you be inclined to make one,  I’ve had it in Tokyo, where it’s called “tonkatsu,” with a thin teriyaki-ish sauce, and at a Cajun/Creole place with homemade Worcestershire, which is pretty awesome.

I warmed up creamed corn and purple hulled peas from the previous night, and cooked some new potatoes. With sliced tomatoes, it made a fine summer meal.

Next time you ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em need some stress relief, get out the mallet and beat up on a pork chop. You feel better, and dinner will be good.

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