Chops are always a hit at our house. I will go ahead and admit that I came up with this recipe after inquiring with a friend about the recipe for schnitzel. I had heard lots of good things about it and wanted to try it, so she wrote it down for me and, in my regular absent-minded manner, I walked out and left it behind.
I drew from memory the best I could. Over the years, I have made several substitutions across the board with this recipe, and it’s still come out quite tasty. It’s a favorite at my house when I have time to make it, as I’m sure it will be at yours as well!
So here goes!
First, get your chops ready. As per my substitutions, you can use regular pork chops, chicken, or you can use lamb. Lamb is traditional, I think, and preferred by those who are living a kosher lifestyle. Thicker chops are best because you are going to be tenderizing them quite harshly with a meat tenderizer. I like to use the kind of mallet that has the tiny spikes, but the flat ones work also.
If you start with regular half to three-quarter inch thick pork chops, once you have tenderized it to one-quarter inch thick or so, it will be nearly as big around as the inner circle of a large dinner plate.
*TIP: If using pork chops, cut through the outer layer of fat all the way down to the lean meat. Doing this will not only allow the chop to spread out more evenly as you tenderize it, but it will keep the chop from drawing up and away from the pan while you are frying it.
*TIP: If you place the pork chops in a heavy duty plastic bag before you tenderize them, you can avoid any cross-contamination from juices or pieces of meat that might fly onto the counter or other surrounding areas. However, if you are using the tenderizer with the tiny spikes, be careful or you might find you have beaten tiny pieces of plastic into your meat cutlet! I found this out the hard way, I might add.
Tenderize each cutlet and lay them in a plate while you ready your seasonings. You will need three separate bowls or containers, each large enough to contain the cutlet of meat laid flat.
In the first container, add about 2-3 cups of flour for 4-5 cutlets. To the flour, add 2 tablespoons of paprika, and salt and pepper to taste. Here is another area in which I have made lots of different substitutions and you can too, depending on what you favorite spices are. For instance, we use lots of curry, as it’s one of our favorites. We have also substituted steak seasoning, soul seasoning, barbecue spice and more. Just be careful which ones you choose, as some have very high salt content.
Once you have added your spices, mix into the flour well so that all the pieces of meat will have the same amounts of seasoning.
In the second container, add two eggs and half a cup of milk and beat until thoroughly mixed. No extra spice additions are needed here.
In the third container, add about 2 cups of bread crumbs. This is another substitution area for me, as when I have no bread crumbs I will often crush up a sleeve or two of Ritz-type crackers. I have made my own breadcrumbs from scratch, but this step is for someone who has extra time to toast and crush the bread. These crackers often add an extra “sweet” taste to the recipe, but cutting back on the paprika or choosing another spice can help keep that in check.
Now that you have your containers full of their ingredients and spices, you can start your skillet of oil on the stove. You want the oil to be about an inch to an inch and a half deep for the best results. Personally, I only use cast iron. It distributes the heat more evenly across the entire surface area and gives you a better result. The chops cook much more easily. Unless, of course, you have your heat set too high or too low.
Setting it too high will cause the outside to darken and burn quickly, while leaving the inside not quite cooked through. This also causes your oil to go bad quickly and you won’t make it through all your cuts of meat before the oil is completely black and smoking. Setting the heat too low will cause the breading to soak in extra oil which will cause it to become heavy, overly greasy and there is more chance that your breading will come off in the frying pan.
When you have the heat set to medium high, or just below, each cutlet should cook about two to three minutes on each side and come out a beautiful, dark, golden brown. If they come out blonde, they are more than likely under cooked and if they come out a dark mahogany, they are on their way to burning, and you should adjust your heat accordingly.
The reason it only takes a couple of minutes per side is that you have tenderized them much thinner than normal. The thinner meat takes much less time to cook completely through. This is also a good amount of time to seal in the juices, without overcooking, so that your meat is tender and juicy, with a slight crunch in the breading as you bite into it.
Cooking the Chops:
While your oil is heating up in the pan, go ahead and take your first cutlet and submerge it in the egg mixture. If it doesn’t go completely under the mixture, just flip it over, making sure both sides are nice and coated. Lift the cutlet, allowing any excess egg mixture to drip off, then lay it in the flour mixture.
This can get incredibly messy at this point. I suggest using one hand to do the egg wash, and the other hand for the dry ingredients. This can take some getting use to. So don’t worry if you have to stop after each one and wash your hands. I still have to do that from time to time myself 🙂
Once you’ve coated the chop in flour, lift it out of the mix and gently shake off any excess flour. Next, transfer the cutlet, once again, into the egg mixture. (No, this won’t cause the flour mixture to wash off, trust me.)
Again, lift the chop, letting the excess egg mixture drip off, then transfer into the bread crumb mixture, making sure both sides are coated well.
In both the flour and breadcrumb stages, I usually lay the cutlet into the dry mix first. Then I pull from the sides to cover the top of the meat. Pressing it down into the mixture causes it to adhere to the meat much better. If there’s anything I have learned, it’s that you must find a way that works for you and do that. Don’t get discouraged if your first time trying this recipe doesn’t go as planned. It often doesn’t. The good news is that you will get better each time you cook this recipe. That’s experience talking!
Make sure you coat the meat well, but not so much that excess crumbs are falling off. Then, lay it very gently into the hot grease. It should immediately begin to sizzle. If it doesn’t, it means that your oil is too cool. This can happen if you haven’t waited long enough for it to reach the correct temperature.
Once the chop has cooked two to three minutes per side, transfer to a plate lined with paper towels. Keep it near the heat so they don’t get cold.
At our house, we always serve this main dish with buttery mashed potatoes, green peas and brown gravy. Other great sides your could serve with this are potato salad, broccoli, asparagus or cooked, glazed baby carrots. Adding a nice yeast roll is the proverbial “icing on the cake”!
As for leftovers — if there ARE any — they are very easily reheated. The breading doesn’t get too crunchy, and they can easily be turned into sandwiches. It makes for a great lunch to take to work with you the next day.
I hope you have enjoyed this recipe. If you decide to try it, I’d love to hear from you. I’m also available if you have any trouble with the recipe or if you have any questions about substitutions. Simply navigate to the page marked “How To Get In Touch With Me”. I’ll surely get back to you as soon as is earthly possible 🙂