The components of a traditional breading—flour, beaten egg, and bread crumbs—present special challenges when applied to juicy pork chops. What could go wrong? Plenty, including a soggy coating and a crust that doesn’t adhere to the meat.
Here are three common problems cooks might encounter in the kitchen—coupled with our tried-and-true solutions, of course.
PROBLEM: The chops develop gummy patches under the coating.
SOLUTION: We swap flour—the usual breading base coat—for cornstarch. Unlike flour, cornstarch contains no protein, so it cooks up lighter and crispier.
PROBLEM: The breading pulls away from the pork.
SOLUTION: Instead of the typical egg wash which puffs up when cooked and contributes to a heavier coating that can pull away from the meat, we use buttermilk as the second layer. It makes for a lighter shell that clings nicely to the chops.
PROBLEM: The bread-crumb crust becomes soggy.
SOLUTION: For an ultra-crunchy exterior, we ditch porous bread crumbs, which absorb too much moisture from the pork and never crisp up. Instead, we combine cornflakes (engineered to retain their crunch in liquid) with cornstarch, which forms a brittle sheath when heated.
Now, some mechanics…
GETTING A BETTER GRIP: Besides rethinking the ingredients in our coating, we came up with two other quick tricks to make sure the breading stays glued to the chop.
1. SCORE THE PORK: Making shallow cuts in the chops’ surface releases juices and sticky meat proteins that dampen the cornstarch and help the coating adhere.
2. REST THE CHOPS: Letting the chops sit for 10 minutes after coating and before frying gives the cornstarch more time to absorb liquid and turn into an adhesive paste.
MAKE IT NOW: Our recipe for Crispy Pan-Fried Pork Chops is free through November 11, 2013.