For the slaw recipe, click here!
Have you ever soaked your pork chops in a quick brine before cooking them? I used to think that brining was something you did to turkeys, whole chickens or large cuts of meat, but even small cuts of pork benefit hugely from the salty water bath.
Now I throw my chops into a simple quick brine for an hour or two every time I make them. It’s so easy and makes a HUGE difference!
Brining is especially useful when breading the pork chops, which makes it more difficult to tell when they are done. Overcooking chops often results in dried out, chewy bites; but if you brine first, even if you overcook them slightly, they will turn out melt-in-your-mouth tender. Combine that with a golden, crunchy, super flavorful crust and you just made perfect pork chops!
The coating is a pretty standard flour / egg / breadcrumb method, that once you learn, you will use all the time. The seasonings are what can be varied…you can use your favorite dried herbs, paprika, or even grated cheeses. But if you try fennel pollen (see Foodstory for an explanation of what it is), nothing will compare to the unique, but subtle flavor. Your dinner guests will just keep asking you “what did you do to these pork chops?!?”
I usually serve these fennel pollen crusted pork chops with a refreshing salad, like my Radicchio Pear Slaw with Fennel and Manchego Cheese, just click on the slaw name to get the recipe.
The combination of this refreshing and flavorful slaw paired with crunchy, golden chops tastes like you’re eating at the hottest gastropub in town
If you have some slaw and chops leftover the next day, just slice the pork and throw into a bowl over the slaw, for a quick and satisfying lunch.
Fair Cooking! 🙂
Fennel Pollen: the magical fairy dust chef’s use
Native to the Tuscany region of Italy, fennel is one of the most common vegetables used in Italian cooking and fennel pollen is a staple spice used to liven many dishes such as Italian pastas, soups and roasts. The bright, rich and buttery flavor of fennel pollen quickly gained popularity among top chefs around the world and the spice is now available to purchase online or at specialty food shops.
Fennel pollen is exactly what the name suggests: it’s the pollen collected from the flowers of the fennel plant. Most of us are used to
seeing the fennel bulb, with a few frond covered stalks attached, but fennel also grows beautiful yellow flowers. Each little floret yields only a tiny amount of pollen, so hundreds of flowers must be harvested (usually by hand) in order to fill just a small jar, which is why fennel pollen is one of the priciest spices out there. But, a little of the spice goes a long way, so it will last quite a while if used sparingly. If fennel pollen is not available or just too pricey, ground fennel seed can be substituted, though it will lack the unique flavor of pollen. I highly recommend the splurge, at least once, just to have it on hand to throw a pinch over a finished roast or soup. Fennel pollen adds an incredible depth of flavor that elevates dishes to restaurant quality, probably because it is used in restaurants as a secret ingredient to add that “magic” finishing touch.
Well, the secret is out 😉
- 2 bone in pork chops (if using 4 to 6, just double all other ingredients)
- 2 tbs kosher salt
- 2 cups of water
- a few sprigs of thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- a few juniper berries
- 5 to 8 whole black peppercorns
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs
- 1 garlic clove
- 3/4 tsp fennel pollen, divided (or 1 tbs ground fennel seeds)
- 1/8 tsp salt + 1/4 tsp salt, divided
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, divided
- 1/4 tsp Piment D’Espelette, divided (or cayenne pepper - see note)
- 2 tbs Canola oil
- 2 tbs butter
1) Lightly pound the pork chops (I just use the paper they came in or a plastic bag) avoiding the bone, just to flatten them slightly and make them more tender.
2) Mix the salt and water, add the rest of the brining ingredients and submerge the pork chops. Place in the fridge and brine for 45 minutes put to 2 hours. (Make the radicchio & pear slaw while you brine)
3) Remove pork chops from the brine, rinse with cold water (to remove salt) and pat dry thoroughly.
4) Set up 3 bowls, one with the eggs, one with the flour and another with the breadcrumbs. Add 1/8 tsp of salt, 1/8 tsp of Piment D'Espelette (or substitute) and 1/4 tsp black pepper to the flour. Add 1/4 tsp salt and rest of Piment d'Espelette and pepper to the breadcrumbs. Divide the fennel pollen between the flour and breadcrumbs. Mix flour and breadcrumbs with spices and beat the eggs.
5) Take a pork chop and dip it into the flour, making sure to coat all of it. Then dip in eggs and then coat well with the breadcrumbs. Repeat with the other pork chop (or others if cooking more) and then dip all the coated chops in into the eggs one more time and coat again with the breadcrumbs.
6) Preheat oven to 325 if you chops are on the thick side. Heat the butter and oil in a skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium low heat. It's best to keep the heat on the lower side so the breadcrumbs don't brown too quickly. When the butter is melted and oil is hot, add the chops, 2 at a time, and cook without moving for 4 to 5 minutes. You want the crust to be golden, NOT dark brown.
7) Turn chops over and cook other side, again for about 5 minutes. Chops are done when they register 145. If the crust is nice and golden, but chops are not done yet, cover the pan with foil and let them finish in the 325 oven for 5 to 8 minutes.
8) let the chops rest, loosely covered for 5 minutes before serving.
*You can substitute ground fennel seeds for the fennel pollen, use 1 tbs total.
*If cooking 4 to 6 pork chops, just double the flour, breadcrumb and spice amounts. 1 tsp of fennel pollen, divided, will still be enough.
Instructions with Photos
Just click on a picture to view the slideshow!