I defrosted a package of pork chops for dinner on Sunday without any sort of real plan as to what to do with them. They were fine specimens: thick-cut to about an inch and a quarter with just enough fat on the edges to keep them juicy and flavorful. So what to do? Do I fire up the grill? No, too long to get charcoal started. Maybe I could bake them? Maybe, but I need a flavor for them. Pan-fry? Tasty, but a chop this thick would in no way cook all the way through before any breading burned to a carbony crisp. So what did I do?
Basically, I opened a can of awesome on them. Earlier in the week, Shauna made nachos with a homemade chipotle cheese sauce. Canned chipotles in adobo were on sale at the grocery store and she thought it would be a good idea to have some around for, you know, whatever. As I looked at the chops and back at the chipotles, a plan came together. I knew combining the peppers in the breading wouldn’t be easy, so I did the next best thing: make a sauce.
Quite some time ago, we used the recipe from Men in Aprons for a Hatch Green Chile Cream Sauce with some Anaheims that we picked up. It made for a great topping for carnitas and a great salad dressing. I figured that one pepper substitution was as good as another and popped in those leftover chipotles as my pepper of choice.
- 2-3 chipotle peppers
- ½ cup sour cream (thicker) or yogurt (thinner)
- ¼ cup mayonaise
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp white pepper
- ¼ tsp garlic powder
This is about as easy as it comes. Dump all of the ingredients into your food processor or heavy duty blender (our Vita-Mix works well for this) and crank it up until everything it nice and smooth. You can use yogurt for this, but it will be a thinner sauce. Also note that you can vary the number of peppers and opt to use a bit of the adobo should you want to kick up the spiciness. I made a double batch and dumped in 8 peppers with most of the adobo sauce for a rather fiery mixture.
So what of the pork chops? I opted to use the best of both worlds. Pan-frying would give me a good, crispy exterior whereas baking would bring the finished product up to temperature. I opted for a simple cornmeal dredge so that the texture and flavor would have a bit more punch.
- 4pork chops 1 ¼ to 1 ½ inches thick
- 2 tbsp milk
- 1 cup flour
- 1 cup cornmeal
- 1 tbsp taco seasoning mix (use packaged or make your own)
- olive oil
- Beat the egg and milk in a shallow pan until combined. Combine the corn meal and taco seasoning in another shallow pan or on a large plate. Put the oil in a skillet over medium heat to about ½ inch deep. Heat your oven to 400°F.
- Put the flour in a large zip-top bag and drop in the pork chops. Shake until the pork chops are thoroughly coated.
- Shake the pork chops as you remove them from the bag, then dip in the milk and egg mixture to coat, then roll in the cornmeal mixture.
- Place the pork chops in the skillet and cook until the coating is crispy, then flip and repeat. When done, place them on a cooling rack on a sheet pan or cookie tray while you do the next batch. As with all frying, do not crowd the pan and let the temperature of the oil recover for a minute or two after you finish a batch.
- One all of the pork chops are done, grab your trusty probe thermometer (c’mon, they’re like $10 at IKEA) and pop it into one of the first chops to be done. Place the pan of fried chops into the oven and cook until you reach 150°F. I know, pork is supposed to go to 160°F-165°F; the carryover heat will finish the job. If you don’t have a thermometer and won’t go get one, I’d say the cook time is about 15-20 minutes.
Service is deadly simple. Grab a chop, pour on some sauce, and enjoy. Pair that up with a side of black beans and maybe a bit of cilantro lime rice and you have yourself a darn good dinner. Shauna says all pork chops should be cooked this way. I’m hard-pressed to disagree.