Unlike Homer Simpson, Petey is smart, a great dad, doesn’t drink, and rarely smells.
But in one aspect he meets or exceeds the “Homer scale”.
My husband loves pork chops. But the word love barely describes the depth and breadth of his passion for a thick slice of porcine loin. I would term it more a shameless obsession.
He loves smothered chops. Years ago I made them from a base of canned cream of mushroom soup. Now they’re made from scratch, either with a homemade mushroom sauce, or Dijon mustard/onion marmalade gravy.
Through the years, though, crispy, oven-baked pork has always been number one on Petey’s hit parade.
Tragically, for years the breader came from a box, from the supermarket.
But it has literally been decades since it was store-bought.
There are three reasons why I make, and don’t buy:
1.)The cost. Depending on where you shop, a box of mix that will coat eight chops can cost almost five dollars. I use leftover breads, chips, and crackers, so even with added herbs, oils, and other flavorings, it costs pennies per serving.
2.)I can make the crumbs from anything I like, and flavor them depending on mood and on-hand ingredients. I’ve made more types than I can count, and am still coming up with new combinations.
3.)And finally, I don’t have any idea of what is actually in that manufactured stuff. I’ve read the ingredients, and it’s a straight-up list of chemicals. I do know that they’re chockfull of sodium and sugar, and other processed nightmares.
So, I’m gonna pay somebody a 5000% premium to sell me junk? Yeah…no thanks; not this go-round.
As I said I’m still coming up with new coating mixes. Last week I made the best one we’ve had in a while (although at one point adding the cheddar made me afraid I’d bungled it). It’s become my new favorite variety.
Pecan-cheddar pork breader
2 cups pretzels
¾ cup pecans
1/3 cup finely shredded sharp cheddar
1 teaspoon dried thyme
½ + 1 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ + ½ teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup rye or whole-wheat flour
1 ½ cups fat-free buttermilk
½ teaspoon seasoned salt of your choice (I used Goya adobo with Pepper)
4-1&½ inch thick pork chops
Preheat oven to 425.
Place pretzels, thyme, ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper and 1 tablespoon oil in food processor. Grind until it’s no larger than peas or corn kernels.
Add pecans and run processor until it’s in uniform and the size of panko bread crumbs. Place in shallow dish. Add cheese, and work in with your fingers until it’s not lumpy but fully incorporated.
In another shallow dish pour in buttermilk.
Put flour, a teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper into zip-top bag.
Place 2 tablespoons oil into shallow baking dish.
Dry off chops with paper towels. Sprinkle seasoned salt on both sides. One at a time, put in flour bag, seal, and shake until coated.
Place floured chop into buttermilk, covering the entire piece of meat. Let any extra drip off. Put into pretzel/pecan crumbs. Cover the whole chop, pressing them in so that they are well-coated.
Place in casserole dish. Bake for 20 minutes, flipping once.
Let rest 10 minutes before serving.
So even though pork chops are a substantial rival for my husband’s affections, I’ll keep on making them. Because they make him so darn happy.
I guess that’s true love (and confidentially, I really like ‘em myself).
Thanks for your time.