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Crumb pork chop

This is comfort food dish from when I was growing up. I can't quite figure out its origin because it's not quite Japanese deep fried panko breaded pork (tonkatsu) and not exactly an American pork chop either. It definitely has a 1970s vibe to it. I mean it has crushed Ritz crackers, mayonnaise and butter in it!

Start with one package of thin-sliced bone-in pork chops. Trim away the fat. These were unusually large pork chops; it actually work a little better with smaller ones. And the thinner the better.

Crush 3.0 oz. of Ritz-type crackers. I used Late July organic crackers. Crush them with a mallet or rolling pin. They should be somewhat coarse - don't grind them in the food processor. It works well do to this in a zip-lock bag, which also comes handy when breading the pork chops.

Season the pork chops with salt, pepper and garlic powder.

Lightly coat the pork chops with mayonnaise. This takes the place of using flour and egg in traditional breading, and actually works pretty well because the crumbs like to stick to it. Just be careful to not cross-contaminate your jar of mayo in this step. I use a tablespoon to scoop out of the jar and fling it at the pork chops, being careful not to touch anything. Then spread it with my hands.

Bread the pork chops in the cracker crumbs.

Cook the pork chops until lightly browned. This can be done in a sauté pan, though it's hard to fit many in a normal-sized pan. A griddle works great. For the full effect, it works best to use butter. I used clarified butter because it's less likely to burn, but Mom uses regular butter.

I used my Cuisinart 3-in-one griddle which worked, except I found that it really doesn't hold temperature well at all. It took about 7 minutes per side, because setting the griddle to 375°F doesn't actually produce anywhere near that temperature. At times, parts of the griddle were as low as 280°F, which is rather disappointing because it's otherwise really neat that it's a griddle, indoor grill, and panini press all-in-one.

Served with rice and sautéed cabbage.

The pork chops can be vacuum sealed and frozen. The best way to reheat them is to defrost them and then heat them on a lightly oiled sheet pan in a 350°F oven for 12 to 15 minutes. The microwave does not work well. But really they're best fresh.

And the reason why smaller is better is that growing up they were a food you eat with your hands, holding on to the bone. And dipping in soy sauce. It wasn't until college that I realize that most people don't eat pork chops with their hands! Update 3/22/2012: I've decided that these just really aren't as good frozen because the breading gets mushy. Fortunately it really takes no time to cook one really thin pork chop in a sauté pan.

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