Pork chops are a dinnertime staple. No wonder. They're quick and easy to fix, and they pair well with a variety of foods and flavors. You can enjoy them year-round -- pan-fry or oven-fry them for a hearty fall or winter meal, or do a quick saute for a no-fuss summer dinner. Here are three simple ways to prepare them.
This method usually involves flattening the chops, dipping them in a liquid, and then breading them with a seasoned flour mixture, or bread or cracker crumbs. The chops are then cooked in oil. This is a real family pleaser -- you end up with a crisp, golden crust and moist, tender meat. Here are step-by-step instructions for four (4 to 5 ounces each) boneless pork chops:
- Place each boneless chop between two sheets waxed paper or plastic wrap. With the flat side of a meat mallet or rolling pin, pound pork to 1/4- to 1/2-inch thickness. This will help ensure the meat will be done inside.
- In a shallow dish beat 1 egg with a fork; stir in 2 tablespoons milk or water. You can also use just milk or buttermilk.
- Prepare the breading, placing it into a shallow dish or plate. You have many options for breading ingredients:
- All-purpose flour. Use about 1/3 to 1/2 cup. You can spice it up by adding 1/2 teaspoon regular or seasoned salt and 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper or a mix of 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon paprika, and 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper. You can also use one of your favorite seasoning blends.
- Crushed crackers. Place crackers in a resealable plastic bag; use a rolling pin to crush them.
- Dry bread crumbs. Purchase these ready-to-use crumbs in plain or flavored varieties.
- Fresh bread crumbs. These give a nice texture to breaded foods. Make them by placing slices of day-old bread in a food processor or blender. Process or blend bread until the crumbs are the size you like.
- Stuffing mix. Prepared bread stuffing mixes make a quick and convenient breading. Simply place it in a resealable plastic bag and use a rolling pin to crush.
- Dip both sides of pork chops in the egg-milk mixture, then in the desired breading.
- In a 12-inch heavy skillet heat 2 tablespoons olive oil or canola oil over medium-high heat. Cook chops 3 to 4 minutes per side, until golden brown on the outside with just a trace of pink inside (145 degrees F with an instant-read thermometer).
For hands-off cooking, try this simple oven method. You can use either boneless or bone-in chops for this method.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
- As in pan-frying Steps 2 through 4 (above), dip the pork chops in egg mixture and breading . You don't need to flatten the meat as in Step 1.
- Arrange coated chops in a single layer in a shallow baking pan. Bake, uncovered, for 15 to 20 minutes or until pork is done (145 degrees F with an instant-read thermometer). Allow chops to stand at least 3 minutes before serving.
The easiest way to fry pork chops is to saute them, which means to cook them quickly in a little oil in a skillet. Boneless or bone-in rib or loin chops, cut 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick, work well for this. For four chops, heat 2 teaspoons vegetable oil or olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Sprinkle chops with salt, ground black pepper, or your favorite seasoning blend. Cook chops for 6 to 8 minutes until browned on the outside and slightly pink in center (145 degrees F with an instant-read thermometer), turning once halfway through cooking.
Today's pork is lean and shouldn't be overcooked. To check for doneness without a thermometer, cut into the center of each pork chop. The inside should be just slightly pink and the juices should run clear. If you do have an instant-read thermometer, the internal temperature should be at least 145 degrees F, followed by a 3-minute rest time. Pork is perfectly safe at this temperature, yet still juicy.