About 5 years ago, my company was doing a fund raising thing and the Marketing Department decided they wanted to do a cookbook. As someone known for being a general wiseass, especially when it came to writing things, one of the Marketers came to me to contribute a recipe.
Now, I don’t have a lot of tricks up my sleeve here. I can cook pretty well for a guy that doesn’t make much from scratch. And I do have a way with a few dishes of the “meat” variety. (For a closer look into my culinary mind, see the post Vegetables Redux, which features Bluz’ Rules of Vegetables and Bluz Rules of Meat.)
I wasn’t as much interested in contributing a dazzling recipe, as I was interested in writing the funniest recipe in the book. While there wasn’t much competition in this category, I was rather proud of it. Not that it’s a bad good recipe; on the contrary, it’s the bomb. It’s also one I basically figured out on my own.
With that, I humbly submit:
Pork Chops of the Gods
First of all, pork chops are not just what’s for dinner, they’re a state of mind… Zen and the Art of Pork Chops. Few things in life are as satisfying as a good pork chop, except maybe several good pork chops. While there are many ways to prepare these divine morsels, tonight’s exercise will cover breaded chops.
To end up with good chops, one must start with good chops, so while grocery shopping, select center cut, boneless chops, about 4 to a pound, roughly a half-inch thick. Save the cheap, bone-in variety packs for when the in-laws come for dinner.
Turn the oven to 425° .
As it heats, begin preparation. (I avoid the use of the word “pre-heat”, because really, what does “pre-heat” mean, to heat the oven before you heat the oven?)
First prepare the breading. A mixture of breadcrumbs, grated parmesan cheese and a quarter teaspoon of black pepper make a nice base, or you can go easy and use one of the Shake-n-Bake flavors for pork. As opposed to using the bag, I like to cover the surface of a paper plate with the breading ingredients and mix them up with a fork.
Next, cover the surface of a small saucer or dish with Worcestershire sauce, then add a dollop or two of barbeque sauce and mix together with a fork. Mmmmm, smell that? That’s the smell of potential! This will be your baste, which in addition to being mighty tasty, also helps the bread crumbs stick to the chops. You can also add a splash of wine, if you like, to either the baste or yourself.
Take a cookie sheet, or shallow baking pan, and line it with foil. (This is one of my favorite Cleanup Prevention techniques. When the meal is done, you can just roll up the foil and pitch it, leaving a nice clean pan without washing. I’d line my coffee cup with foil, if I could figure out how to keep it from leaking.)
Now, open your package of pork chops. I can’t emphasize this enough. The chops must be removed from the package, or the breading just won’t stick, no matter how much baste you use. Also, be sure to remove that little packet that sometimes lines the bottom of the tray. One time my sister was making a chicken stir-fry while she was enjoying quite a few splashes of wine. Later, she noticed that her stir-fry had an odd texture and later realized that she had carved up that packet right along with the chicken. Extra fiber, I guess. So be careful with that wine!
Now where was I… OK, pull off any excess fat that you can… Lean is Good!
Take a chop and dip the top, bottom and sides into the baste. Then drop one side down into the plate of breading. Pick up the chop and ensure that it is evenly covered with the breading. Next, roll the sides of the chop into the breading. Leave one side of the chop unbreaded and place it bare side down on the cookie sheet. (You can bread the bottom side if you want, but chances are that when you take the chop out of the pan, all the breading will be left behind on the foil.) Tap the sides of the paper plate to evenly redistribute the breading, before repeating the process on each chop. Wash the breading gunk off your hands and wait for the oven to reach 425°. Now have some more wine.
At this point, I highly recommend doing the Pork Chop Dance. This is a ritual dance to appease the Pork Chop gods, who if left unappeased, may smite you with dry pork chops. The details of the Pork Chop Dance are left to the dancer, so each may interpret as they please. If you’re stuck, just imagine what Snoopy does and go from there. I am highly secretive about mine. I once let someone see one of my other food preparation dances, and the next thing I knew, it was being done at weddings all over the country. You’ve probably seen it… I was making chicken at the time. But I digress…
When oven hits 425°, put in the chops, and cook for 15 minutes. If chops are any thicker than a half inch, you may need to add another minute or two. When time is up, remove from oven and test for firmness. Chops should be firm but not hard. If still soft, you can always put them back in for another minute or two. But be careful, you don’t want them to be dry. That said, pour the wine, and enjoy!
The author, engaging in his Pork Chop Dance at a NW Ohio hog roast.
That was what was published in the cookbook and it turned out to be a hit. And yes, that picture was included too. After I submitted the story and got some laughs from the woman putting the book together, I made the mistake of sending her that picture. That was me, in the only known visual evidence of the Pork Chop Dance, performing it prior to our Barn Reunion hog roast.
Much to my chagrin, she then insisted on using it in the book… said I must have wanted it in the book or else I wouldn’t have sent it to her in the first place. OK, maybe there was a kernel of truth to that. I probably just wanted it to be her idea. Mine was the only recipe with a picture.
I did notice people gave me a lot more room on the elevator after that.