It feels like a sadomasochistic experiment that I’m doing at the moment. While writing this, I’m high in the air over the Canadian Prairies, packed into the window seat of a Westjet flight, doing my best impersonation of a dead sardine. My stomach, as is usually the case when I’m anxious, is off. I ate breakfast long ago (leftovers of this recipe, in fact), and I decided not to eat anything else before boarding my flight. I should have eaten something small before departing, or maybe grabbed something to take along on the flight, but…I didn’t.
Now, hours later and hungry enough to disregard the anxiousness in my belly, I’ve chosen to pass the time by writing about these mouth-watering pork chops that, like everything else delicious and sustaining, I can’t get my hands on at the moment.
Why did I ever think that I could go travelling without my wife? What was I thinking? Were she here, I know she would have made sure to grab a snack. She knows things I don’t, like that domestic Westjet flights don’t come with a meal…or a screen for in-flight movies…or enough personal space to just be able to raise my right arm by more than 3 degrees. I just had to try travelling on my own for once…
Oh well, hopefully my time spent airborne on an empty stomach will be worth it. I’m heading to Ontario to check out the University of Waterloo. I was recently accepted into their Master of Actuarial Science program, and I’m going to check out the campus and meet a few people who can tell me a bit more about the program and the career in general. It’s a huge trip for me as it will hopefully help me figure out what I plan on doing with the rest of my working life. It’s really exciting, but a little scary, too.
I guess in the meantime, I can distract my hungry stomach by trying not to think about how much I need to pee…which I hate doing on airplanes…and did I mention I’m in a window seat…?
Seriously, where’s my wife? She would have reminded me to go once more before getting on the plane. Please don’t tell her this, but I really can’t survive without her…
On that note, here’s the recipe I came up with for an incredible pork chop:
Parmesan-Crusted Pork Chops
- 4 x 250 – 300 g. centre-cut pork chops
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup bread crumbs
- 1/3 cup shaved parmesan, finely chopped
- Vegetable oil, for frying
- Salt and pepper
- Preheat your oven to 400° F. In a small to medium-sized frying pan (large enough to comfortably fit one pork chop), pour in the vegetable oil so that it’s roughly 1 cm thick. Place the frying pan over medium heat.
- Prep your pork chops by carefully trimming the fat around the outside, and removing any other bits that are too fatty. Reserve these trimmed bits as they help you to test the oil and the long strips can make great crackling.
- Before breading your pork chops, season them lightly. In a small prep bowl, mix together ½ tsp sea salt and a dash of pepper. Sprinkle this mixture over both sides of the pork chops, rubbing into the meat lightly.
- Prep your breading station using three shallow bowls. In the first, add your flour. In the second, beat together your egg with 1 tbsp. water. In the third, combine together your bread crumbs with your parmesan.
- When your oven is ready, set a baking sheet with wire grill beside your frying pan.
- Begin with a piece of reserved fat. Place it first in the flour, then the egg, and finally coat it in the bread crumb and parmesan mixture. Add it to the frying pan to test the temperature. You’re looking for it to sizzle instantly and brown nicely in about 1-2 minutes. If it doesn’t sizzle or browns too quickly, adjust the temperature and test with another piece of fat.
- Once you’re confident your oil temperature is sufficient, repeat the breading process with one of the pork chops and place it in the oil. After it’s browned nicely on the bottom (the oil won’t quite cover the meat completely), flip it and brown the other side for 1-2 minutes longer. Remove from the oil and place on the wire grill. Repeat this process until all the pork chops have been fried and are sitting on the wire grill.
- At this point in time, you’ll want to place your pork chops in the oven and continue cooking them until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat reads between 145 and 160°F, about 10-12 minutes. At this time, remove and let rest for a few minutes.
- While the chops are in the oven, consider frying up the remaining long strips of fat that you carefully trimmed away. Season them generously with salt and a little pepper, then toss in the oil until nicely browned and crispy; it’s called “crackling”, and when seasoned right, it’s the ultimate indulgence.
- To serve, I recommend pairing your pork chops with some garlicky mashed potatoes and some baked asparagus coated in olive oil, sea salt, and grated parmesan. If you haven’t eaten it all while waiting for the chops, top them each with a juicy, crispy piece of crackling.