Friday, January 15, 2010

Experimental Cooking in the Real World

AKA: "The Bread Crumb Fiasco"

America's Test Kitchen had another recipe I wanted to try -- "Crispy Pork Chops." Pork is rather a boring meat on its own, but this recipe looked fabulous on the DVD. So today, I bought 6 lovely pork medallions at Aldi, trying (a little) to plan ahead for supper.

(Do any of you find that you plan ahead for a meal just enough to get you started, but not enough to make it a success? Ah well.)

I brined the pork chops (1 qt water with 1/4 cup salt) for 30 minutes in the frig. Easy enough, until I realized that they'd already been treated before packaging, and basically I had rebrined them. Mistake UNO.
Next step: Bread Crumbs. I needed about 5 slices of white bread. Now, I do not keep store-brought bread in the house, and I did NOT want to sacrifice 5 slices of my delectable homemade bread. Thankfully, however, I discovered homemade bread crumbs in the freezer that Hubby had made previously - yippee! If you're making yours fresh, use one slice of bread for each chop you're cooking. Chop in a food processor until they are coarse crumbs. Add: 3 pressed cloves of garlic, 1 minced shallot, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, 2 T oil. Mix in a bowl with your hands.

BTW, here's a pic of my garlic peeler, a gadget well worth having, if you're a garlic lover. I've had this for about 10 years, maybe more? It works well, cleans easily, and looks as new as when I bought it. SO much better than fumbling with a knife and a clove, battling the paper skins.

Please look closely at the crumbs in the bowl. Note that they are ALREADY TOASTED. DUH. Of course Adam toasted them. Oh well, I didn't notice, and proceeded to toast them AGAIN. For 15 minutes, "until they really will look too done," the lady said. Oh yeah, they did. Can you say BLACKENED? Mistake DOS.
[Forgot to turn this picture. It makes me dizzy to look at it.]
Now, here's the messy process. You dip the rinsed, well-dried pork chops in plain flour. The next pan has this in it: 3 egg whites, 3 T dijon mustard, 6 T flour. Now, by this time, after burning the crumbs, I was beginning to crumble myself. I had no dijon. Plan ahead? What's that mean? I looked through my mustard collection:
honey mustard
yellow mustard
about 6 specialty mustards of varying hotness and horseradishness
BUT NO dijon. The closest I had was a Grey Poupon course pepper mustard, so it had to do.

And at this point, a good recipe will begin to compensate for your ineptitude, right?

Note the dark crumbs -- nothing like they're supposed to look. In there are also 2 T parmesan and some powdered thyme, because who has fresh thyme this time of year? And there should be a T fresh parsley, but I had none of that either, and by this time, I cared NOT.
I closed my eyes and proceeded with the messy dredging, etc. The chops cook in a 450 degree oven for about 20 minutes, or until they are 150 degrees internally. (Yes, we have a meat thermometer. Hubby went through a cooking thermometer craze at one point.) Cook on a wire rack, in a baking pan.

And here's the plate. Sweet potatoes b/c they go GREAT with pork and I love them. And that other mass on the plate? Some more of those apples from the pandowdy recipe. I wanted a fruit with the pork too, and this was perfect. I tell you, that pandowdy recipe is a keeper, and now I've found another use for it. It's delicious and QUICK (especially without the crust).
Will I make the pork again? Yes. Adam said the crust was the best he'd ever tasted on a pork chop -- really crispy and crunchy, and it stayed ON the meat. Next time, though, I won't double-brine the meat, nor will I double-toast the crumbs. Just goes to show you, we make our worst mistakes by giving ourselves more work :) Right?


  1. a filippino friend of mine taught me this trick for easy garlic peeling. Smash the clove with the flat of a large knife (or a rock or anything...just smash it) the paper peel comes right off...

  2. J - I've often smashed garlic with the flat of a good knife; it works well. I like the garlic peeler for when I want the garlic to come out pristine -- although in this case, since I minced it anyway, it didn't matter.


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