I’m going to be honest with you, I’m not a huge fan of pork chops. That being said, if I’m going to eat a pork chop, it better be a damn good pork chop or I’d rather just have take out. Over the years I’ve figured it out, mostly after receiving an unsolicited shipment of a gigantic box of high quality pork chops that I needed to figure out how to use.
The elements of the Perfect Pork Chop include: breading that stays on, juicy not dry, and a perfect golden brown on the outside, with a perfectly cooked inside. It took me a while, a few dry chops, and several hours spend google educating myself, but I figured it out, and it’s not that difficult.
First, temperature is key. Not just cooking temperature, but pre-cooking temperature. Most people, rightfully freaked out by raw meat, start cooking meat right out of the fridge. Cold, just out of the fridge, meat is probably about 35 degrees. Throw that in a pan and the outside gets up to temperature considerably faster than the center, forcing you to either serve meat with a raw center or a burnt outside.
Second, is that stupid breading that always slips off. It took me a while (I can be stubborn), but both of these issues are solved with the same step. Bread the pork chops (this also seals in the juices) and let them sit for about 20 minutes at room temperature. This brings the temperature of the center of the meat up helping the entire chop to cook evenly, and it helps the breading to set, allowing it to stay on. Don’t freak out about raw meat sitting on the counter for 20 minutes. Think about the day you bought those chops, picking them up at the meat counter, putting them in your cart, checking out, driving home, and then finally putting them in your fridge, I bet that took longer than 20 minutes. I grew up on a farm, that “drive into town,” used to take us about an hour. It’s fine. I also highly recommend this for steaks, and I even read a vintage fried chicken recipe that called for two hours of room temperature counter sittin’. I was too chicken to try it (pun fully intended).
Also, buy a meat thermometer. Seriously. Right now, buy one. You can pick one up at the grocery store for about $10, and if that saves you one overcooked dinner, it just payed for itself. The recommendation for whole pork (not ground) was just lowered to 145 by the USDA, I usually cook it until just before this (about 140) because it will rise about 5 degrees once you remove it from the pan. Knowing the exact right moment to take the chops off the heat will be the difference between dry, average tasting pork chops and amazing, juicy pork chops.
Ok, and lets talk about this merlot cherry onion jam situation. I love homemade savory jams right now, and clearly I like to add booze to my food. I want to make this jam again for burgers, or maybe to stuff in a pork loin. or maybe I’ll just make these pork chops again.
This turned out amazing! I hope you love it as much as I do.
- 2 tbs butter
- 1 tbs olive oil
- 1 white onion, sliced
- 2/3 cup merlot
- ½ cup died cherries
- ¼ cup vinegar
- 1 tbs brown sugar
- ¼ tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- 1 egg
- ¼ cup milk
- 2 cups Italian bread crumbs
- 4 boneless pork loin chops, 1 inch thick
- salt and pepper
- 3 tbs vegetable oil
- In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter with the olive oil. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally until just starting to caramelize, about 10 minutes (make sure the heat isn’t too high or the onions will burn). Add the wine, cherries, vinegar and brown sugar, salt and pepper bring to a strong simmer and cook until the wine has mostly cooked off, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a food processor, puree until mostly smooth, leaving some texture (can be made up to one week ahead of time, heat prior to serving).
- In a small bowl, beat the egg with the milk.
- In a separate bowl, add the breadcrumbs.
- Salt and pepper the pork chops on all sides. On at a time dip into the egg mixture, allow to drain slightly before transfering to the breadcrumbs. Turn and press until the pork chop is well coated.
- Set on a sheet of wax paper, or on a plate, and allow to come to room temperature, about 20 minutes.
- Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium high heat until hot but not smoking.
- Working in batches of two (don’t crowd the pan or the pork chops won’t cook evenly) add the pork chops and cook until the underside is browned, about 4 minutes. Turn and cook until the internal temperature is just 145F.
- Plate the pork chops, top with the onion cherry merlot jam.