Although you can grill, bake or pan-saute pork chops, frying is still a traditional choice. Choose an oil, such as canola, vegetable or corn oil, that has a mild flavor and can withstand high heat and make sure the oil is fresh. Although you can marinate pork chops in the refrigerator ahead of time, wait to coat them until right before you cook them. Salt and pepper the chops before you dip them in the coating.
The most common coating for fried pork chops is simply a dusting of flour, seasoned with salt and pepper. Go beyond the classic wheat flour coating, though, and try a combination of flours, such as cornmeal, wheat or even pancake mix, which imparts a sweet, nutty flavor. Try using crushed cereals, such as popped rice or corn cereal, or breadcrumbs to coat pork chops. When fried, these coatings become crisp and golden brown. Cornstarch, which comes from the endosperm of corn, is sometimes used as a coating for stir-fry and tempura dishes. It makes a surprisingly light, mild-flavored coating on its own, or it can be combined with flour.
Nuts and Cheese
Go beyond the traditional by combining breadcrumbs with chopped pecans, macadamia nuts or other nuts for a flavorful fried pork chop. Another option is to combine breadcrumbs with hard, grated cheeses, such as Parmesan cheese. Combine equal parts of breadcrumbs and nuts or cheese. Add salt, pepper and herbs, such as thyme or rosemary to the breading. When using these types of breadings, use just a little oil or oven-fry the chops.
Pork chops have some moisture and simple breading, such as flour, will stick to them relatively well. However, if you soak the pork chops in a liquid first, the breading will adhere even better. Marinate pork chops in milk for several hours, refrigerated at 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Milk not only helps breading stick better, but it also tenderizes and adds flavor to pork. Dip pork chops in beaten eggs before breading them or melt butter and honey together for a sweet, rich dip.
Putting it Together
Delicious fried pork chops start with high quality meat. Choose center-cut chops that are 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 inches thick. The chops should be firm, pink and moist, but not slimy. Any fat should be white. Dark, yellowed or blemished fat indicates that the chops aren't fresh. Avoid pork chops that are gray, soft or have excess moisture. In the past, pork chops were cooked to at least 160 F to reduce the risk of parasite exposure. With improvements in breeding, care and processing, this risk has been virtually eliminated. Cook pork chops until a meat thermometer inserted in the thickest portion of the chop registers 145 F, according to the USDA. Pork chops dry out quickly so avoid overcooking them.
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Julie Christensen is a food writer, caterer, and mom-chef. She's the creator of MarmaladeMom.org, dedicated to family fun and delicious food, and released a book titled "More Than Pot Roast: Fast, Fresh Slow Cooker Recipes."