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crunchy baked pork chops with prosciutto and asiago

December 22, 2010

As delicious as those crunchy pan-fried pork chops were, I knew as soon as I made them that I’d have to try Cook’s Illustrated’s baked version. Same crunchiness, but without standing over the stove and leaving a ring of oil on the cooktop? Oh hi there!

I actually think I may or may not have already made this recipe before, long ago and worlds apart.

Uhh, yes, that *is* a can of cat food in the background. Classy!
However, I probably didn’t make this particular variation, with all of its various sources of fat and deliciousness. Usually when I cook for my parents, I try to make it semi-healthy. But not this time! Cured meat and cheese were calling to me. And oh, I answered.

It was definitely an intense combination, but yummy, too. The crumbs were nice and flavorful—I was actually kind of bummed to have to throw out so much of them at the end. I think you could probably get away with 1.5-ing or doubling the amount of pork for the same amount of crumbs. And much like the pan-fried version, I wouldn’t necessarily say the crumbs stuck solidly to the meat, but I was too busy nomming to really notice. Plus, no ring of oil! Yay!

Crunchy Baked Pork Chops with Prosciutto and Asiago
4 center-cut boneless pork chops, 6 to 8 oz. each, 3/4 to 1 inch thick, trimmed of excess fat
4 slices hearty white sandwich bread, torn into 1-inch pieces [I think I used a couple of hamburger buns…?]
1 small minced shallot (about 2 tablespoons)
3 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour, plus 6 tablespoons
3 large egg whites
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
4 slices Asiago cheese (1/8 inch thick)
4 slices prosciutto

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Dissolve 1/4 cup salt in 1 quart water in medium container or gallon-sized zipper-lock bag. Submerge chops, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate 30 minutes. [If you’re using enhanced, rather than natural, pork, skip this step.] Rinse chops under cold water and dry thoroughly with paper towels.
2. Meanwhile, pulse bread in food processor until coarsely ground, about eight 1-second pulses (you should have about 3 1/2 cups crumbs). Transfer crumbs to rimmed baking sheet and add shallot, garlic, oil, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Toss until crumbs are evenly coated with oil. Bake until deep golden brown and dry, about 15 minutes, stirring twice during baking time. (Do not turn off oven.) Cool to room temperature. Toss crumbs with Parmesan, thyme, and parsley.
3. Place 1/4 cup flour in pie plate. In second pie plate, whisk egg whites and mustard until combined; add remaining 6 tablespoons flour and whisk until almost smooth, with pea-sized lumps remaining.
4. Increase oven temperature to 425 degrees. Spray wire rack with nonstick cooking spray and place in rimmed baking sheet. Season chops with pepper. Place 1/8-inch-thick slice Asiago cheese (about 1/2 oz.) on top of each chop. Wrap each chop with thin slice prosciutto, pressing on prosciutto so that cheese and meat adhere to one another. Dredge 1 pork chop in flour; shake off excess. Using tongs, coat with egg mixture; let excess drip off. Coat all sides of chop with bread crumb mixture, pressing gently so that thick layer of crumbs adheres to chop. (Be careful when handling chops so that cheese and meat do not come apart.) Transfer breaded chop to wire rack. Repeat with remaining 3 chops.
5. Bake until instant-read thermometer inserted into center of chops registers 150 degrees, 17 to 25 minutes. Let rest on rack 5 minutes before serving with lemon wedges.

Source: Cook’s Illustrated

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