Crunchy baked pork

20 Feb

crunchy baked porkWe have just returned from a wonderfully relaxing and summery holiday in Hawaii. It was just what we needed in the midst of February in Vancouver – sun, sand and humidity. Perfect. The cuisine of Hawaii surprised me – I was expecting much more local seafood, and more Polynesian-style meals and flavours, but obviously, the menus were mostly American, showing steaks and burgers, and fries with everything. They do a cracker pulled pork over there though – slowly cooked in the ground, in what they call a kalua. And of course the fruit was sensational, as were the mai tais!

Hopefully before the end of our time in Vancouver I will have nailed a pulled pork recipe and I will share it here, but in the meantime I will post about a different pork dish I made recently – crunchy baked pork.

Really, it is one of the best pork dishes I have made, and not because my pork-cooking skills have vastly improved of late, but because the recipe is excellent. The pork is tender due to the initial brining and is not at all “porky”. The bread crumbs are fabulously crunchy and the addition of garlic, shallot, Parmesan, herbs and salt and pepper makes for a perfect companion to the meat. The key for me was to cook the pork with a meat thermometer, as suggested in the recipe, which totally takes the guess work out of the timing and avoids the situation that I usually encounter in which one portion (mine) is gouged open (sometimes multiple times) to test the centre of the meat for “doneness”. I served mine with an apple sauce, Moroccan roast beets and couscous, but for a lighter meal I think the pork would sit well with a big green salad and a tart cranberry sauce.

Ingredients

2 tbsp table salt

2 boneless centre cut pork chops, approx. 200g each and about 2 – 2.5cm thick, trimmed of excess fat

2 slices hearty white sandwich bread, torn into small pieces

1 small shallot, finely diced

1 large garlic clove, finely diced

1 tbsp vegetable oil

Freshly ground black pepper and salt

1 tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan cheese

½ teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, picked from stem

1 tbsp parsley leaves, finely chopped

1 tbsp tarragon leaves, finely chopped

2 tbsp plus 3 tbsp plain flour, separated

1 egg

2 dsp Dijon mustard

Lemon wedges to serve

Method

Preheat the oven to 180*C.

Dissolve salt in half a litre of water in a medium bowl and submerge pork. Cover and return to refrigerator for 30 mins.

Rinse pork and dry thoroughly with paper towel.

While the pork is in the brine, line a baking tray with baking paper and pulse the bread in a food processor until it is a coarse crumb. Tip the bread onto the lined tray and add shallot, garlic, oil, a sprinkle of salt and pepper and toss until all the bread is covered in oil.

Bake for 15 mins until the bread is golden, stirring at 5 and 10 mins.

Remove from oven and toss with Parmesan, thyme, parsley and tarragon.

Set aside while preparing the next step.

Place 2 tbsp flour in one shallow bowl.

Place egg and mustard in a second shallow bowl and whisk until combined. Add remaining 3 tbsp flour to egg mixture and whisk until almost smooth. A few lumps are ok.

Increase the temperature of the oven to 220*C and line a baking tray with baking paper.

For each piece of pork: dredge in flour, shaking off excess, then coat in egg mixture, letting excess drip off and finally, press in breadcrumb mixture, covering the whole piece.

Place on baking tray with a meat thermometer inserted in the centre of a piece of pork. Bake for 17-25 mins, until the thermometer reads 66*C.

Remove from the oven and rest for 5 mins, covered with foil.

Serve with lemon wedges.

Serves 2, adapted and approximately halved from a recipe on Smitten Kitchen, who adapted it from Cook’s Illustrated.

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