Friday, December 9, 2011

Jump-in-the-mouth pork chops

Oh dear lord, these pork chops were over the top.  I don't normally fry food, but I had been dreaming of these for several days.  I had a good supply of fresh sage on hand, courtesy of my wonderful friend and cooking companion, TXMama.  I intended to do a riff on saltimbocca, so I skipped white wine and proscuitto because I wasn't rolling these thin, bone-in pork chops like the classic presentation, but I used plenty of fresh sage in the egg batter, panko and then finished the little brown beauties with melted Romano and mozzarella cheeses and fried capers.  No pan sauce necessary.

Oh my.

Accompanied by baked garnet sweet potatoes (the best--no, I mean it--the best sweet potatoes), so rich and flavorful they need no seasoning, and roasted garlic brussels sprouts (yes, he ate them.  With gusto.), this meal, as my father would have said, hit the spot.  I chose an Argentinian red, Bodega Benegas Don Tiburcio 2007 to accompany the food.  Complex and rich, this blend of Malbec, Petit Verdot, Cabernet, Merlot and Cabernet Franc is full of dark fruit and is firm and delicious next to bolder flavors like the sage, capers and brussels sprouts.  Argentinian wines, like Spanish wines, are still great values and deliver a high level of quality at a very reasonable price point.  You can buy this wine for under $13.

Jump-in-the-mouth Pork Chops

I used thin pork chops to avoid having to pound the meat, but you could certainly buy a thicker cut of boneless pork and pound the meat thin with a mallet.

4 thin-cut bone-in pork chops
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup cooking oil
1 egg
2 Tbs. water
2 heaping Tbs. chopped fresh sage leaves
1 cup panko
1/2 cup shredded Romano cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup capers, drained (you can also use dried, salted capers if you wish)

1.  Salt and pepper the pork chops to taste and set aside to come to room temperature.  Have a sheet of waxed paper or parchment paper nearby.
2.  Meanwhile, begin gently heating the oil in a large skillet.
3.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
4.  Beat egg in a shallow dish or pie pan; add water.
5.  Add chopped sage and stir well to distribute.
6.  Put panko in another shallow dish.
7.  Bring cooking oil up to temperature.  It should ripple a bit when it's at the right temperature.
8.  Dip pork chops one by one into egg mixture, then cover completely with panko.  Set aside on waxed paper until all chops are coated and ready to fry.
9.  Fry the pork chops, regulating the temperature as necessary and turning only once.  They should be a lovely golden brown on both sides.
10.  Place pork chops on a baking sheet or oven-proof platter and divide Romano cheese among them, sprinkling on top of each chop.  Repeat with mozzarella cheese.
11.  Place baking sheet in oven and turn off oven.  Leave door closed.
12.  Meanwhile fry the capers briefly in the oil.  Remove from oil and drain on paper towels.
13.  Remove pork chops from oven.  The cheese should be all melty and gorgeous.
14.  Plate pork chops and divide capers among them, sprinkling capers over cheese.  Serve while chops are still warm.  Serves 4.

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