One of the ideas I want to promote and explore using this site is the idea of a ‘hack’, in a very positive way. My model is the people at LifeHacker.com, who share ‘Tips, tricks, and downloads for getting things done.’ I like a lot of the ideas they promote, which are simply shortcuts or ideas that can make life a bit easier – a ‘hack’ then is not a cheat, not dishonest or disingenuous, just a shortcut or better way to get something done quicker, better or easier. Maybe using something in a way the manufacturer did not intend.
An example is my use of a recipe that I found on a fav online recipe site – a really excellent recipe for a bone-in pork chop recipe. The hack is that I took and modified a bit to fit an exchange of pork loin cutlet. Same delicious tastes and maybe even better using the loin portion. This is something I really like about competitive cooking shows. The format is often ‘here – take this food ingredient and make something tasty’ usually with some kind of constraint like time or cooking over a fire lit with a couple of twigs. Those chefs are definitely hacking; using what they know about cooking tools and technique and applying it in unique ways that fit into the challenge.
This recipe is just like that – I took the Parmesan Sage Bone-in Pork Chop recipe and applied it to a loin cutlet. The results were… well.. lets see where this goes for you – the people at my table LOVED it. The pork loin I used this time came from the local warehouse club meat counter and the issue in buying at the warehouse club is that the loin can be huge, so plan ahead if you buy like this too. I usually make 3-4 loin roasts out of the purchase, freezing two portions and fixing one right away. In this instance, I was using one of the frozen portions after defrosting it.
Here is the group shot of all the software that goes into this dish.
The shopping list looks like this –
- 4 pork loin chops / cutlets
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sage from dried sage leaf
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Dash pepper
- 3/4 cup soft bread crumbs
- 1/2 teaspoon grated lime peel
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1 tablespoon of water
- 1 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon butter or margarine
Hardware list is –
- plastic bags (1 sandwich bag, 1 larger gallon bag)
- egg wash bowl
- breading bowl
- cooling / resting rack
- large skillet
- 9×13 baking dish, sprayed with cooking oil spray
- micro-plane grater / zest grater
- box grater
Prep Phase (not cooking)
This is the food assembly phase.
If you had the cutlets prepared by a butcher skip this otherwise slice 4 loin cutlets from the loin roast, each about an inch thick. Set cutlets aside.
Combine the flour with the salt and pepper in the plastic gallon-size food storage plastic bag. Set aside for a minute – you’ll use this to flour the cutlets in a sec.
Prepare the egg wash by beating the egg with the tablespoon of water into a smooth consistency in a low, wide dish, this will be the wash we use to bind the coating to the meat.
Prepare the parmesan & sage breading
Grate fresh parmesan using the small holes of the box grater. I never use the pre-grated stuff if I can possibly not – in my kitchen I do not have any of the green canister stuff; neither should you. Grating cheese is waaayyy simple and soooo much better.
Use the microplaner and scrape the outside of the lime (lemon will work if you do not have lime). You get these tiny pieces of rind, now called ‘zest’, hence the phrase ‘zesting the lime’. You need about 1/2 teaspoon which is about all the zest you can get from a single lime.
The dried sage leaves need to be broken up by just crunching it up using the most versatile tool in the kitchen – your fingers. I dry my own sage leaf from fresh sage, but you can use rubbed sage too.
In the sandwich bag put the bread crumbs, the parmesan, the lime zest and the sage. This is just to make sure they are well mixed before pouring them into a low flat dish, like a pie tin.
Applying the Breading
Set up a processing line, like this – floured cutlets, egg wash, breading, cooling rack. The cooling rack is not for actually cooling the meat, it’s for allowing the breaded cutlet to rest before putting in the skillet. When applying a multi-stage breading, the 1st stage coating should not be very thick – just a dusting really.
Flour the cutlets by putting them into the plastic food storage bag that has the flour, salt & pepper in it. Twist the top of the bag closed and shake it so that flour completely coats the cutlets – the nooks, crannies and everything.
Open the bag and remove a single cutlet. Lay it in the egg wash, flip once to coat both sides. Hold up the egg-soaked cutlet and let most of the egg wash run off.
Put the floured, egged cutlet in the breading. Lay it down in the breading and then pickup loose breading and putting it on top, pat it down a bit and then turn the cutlet over, put some more breading on top and pat it down more. Repeat until a nice solid coating crusts the cutlet. Make sure the edges get coated too.
Move the floured, egged, breaded cutlet to the cooling rack for a rest.
When you finish, your breaded cutlets look like this. I cannot tell you how important it is to let the breaded portion rest before you put it in the pan. This resting should be a full 5 minutes. To help you gauge the time turn on the oven and let it heat to 425 degrees. it might take a few minutes longer than 5 minutes, but make sure you DO wait at least 5 minutes or so.
Time to apply heat!
Now get ready to move through the ‘heat on food’ phase. The process will be the skillet for about 5 minutes followed by some time in the oven. I use a larger skillet because I do not want to crowd the meat as it browns.
Heat the skillet (I use a medium heat, setting 5 on a stove dial of 1-10) for a few minutes and then pour the canola oil into the heated skillet. When the oil is hot (about 3-4 minutes), place a well-rested, breaded cutlet into the heated skillet. Now don’t futz with it for two minutes. Turn over in the skillet after the 2 minutes and let sit for two more minutes – a total of four or five minutes for both sides.
They cutlets should be nicely browned now, if not, keep them in the skillet a bit longer. Move the cutlets directly from the skillet to the oil-sprayed 13×9 baking dish and put directly into the 425 degree oven. You can wait about 10-15 minutes and guess they are done (they probably will be), but the best way is to have a kitchen thermometer handy and wait for the meat temp to reach 145 to 155 degrees. Once they have hot that temperature, remove from the oven and serve.
I’ve fixed this dish several times now and everyone has loved it. I try hard not to overcook the meat by using temperature, not time, to cook.
I love serving it with mashed potatoes and asparagus and I would have taken another pic of the service suggestion, but my guest and I were pretty hungry and the final presentation moved right from plate to mouth – nom good…
If you can get a pic of your your preparation before it gets consumed – let me know!