2 servings (can be easily doubled)
“Frenching” the chops—cleaning up the bone—prevents the “eye” of the meat that is pounded out from overcooking before the meat next to the bone is cooked, and it does make the finished chops look pretty. It is something I do for guests in my restaurants, and it is easy enough for you to learn and do at home. You can, of course, prepare this recipe without frenching the chops, just be careful that the meat next to the bones is fully cooked before you serve the chops.
You can prepare most of the ingredients—even bread the pork chops—in advance, but don’t fry the pork, slice the onion or toss the salad until the last minute.
Without the mozzarella in the salad, these chops are perfect for lunch or a light dinner. With the mozzarella, they are more substantial. You can use balsamic vinegar in place of all or part of the wine vinegar if you like. As always, dress the salad first with olive oil to coat the leaves, then sprinkle in vinegar to taste.
- For the Pork Chops
- 2 loin pork chops, from the rib end of the loin, each about 8 ounces and ¾-inch thick
- Freshly ground pepper
- All-purpose flour
- 1 egg
- 1 cup fine dry breadcrumbs
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- For the salad
- 4 cups arugula, washed and dried (preferably in a salad spinner) and torn into large pieces
- 1 ripe beefsteak tomato, or 3 ripe plum tomatoes, cored and cut into 1-inch chunks (about 1 cup)
- Half a small red onion, sliced thin (about 1 cup)
- 4 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 2/3 cup; optional)
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 ½ tablespoons red wine vinegar, or to taste
For the Salad:
4 cups arugula, washed and dried (preferably in a salad spinner) and torn into large pieces
1 ripe beefsteak tomato, or 3 ripe plum tomatoes, cored and cut into 1-inch chunks (about 1 cup)
Half a small red onion, sliced thin (about 1 cup)
4 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 2/3 cup; optional)
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 ½ tablespoons red wine vinegar, or to taste
To “French” the chops, first cut away as much meat and fat as possible from the last 2 inches or so of the bone. Clean the bone further by scraping the exposed part with the back of the knife. To get the bone really clean, grab onto the remaining meat and fat with a kitchen towel and pull it from the bone, leaving the bone completely stripped. Place the chops between two sheets of plastic wrap and pound the meat with the smooth side of a meat mallet to a thickness of about 1/3 inch. If you find the chops aren’t thinning out, switch to the toothed side of the mallet for a few strokes, then back to the smooth side. Season the chops lightly with salt and pepper.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Spread out the flour and breadcrumbs on two separate plates or sheets of wax paper. Beat the egg in a wide shallow bowl until thoroughly blended. Dredge the chops in flour to coat them lightly and tap off any excess flour. Dip in the beaten egg and hold them over the bowl, letting the excess egg drip back into the bowl. Move the chops to the breadcrumbs and turn to coat completely, patting them gently to make sure the breadcrumbs adhere.
Heat the vegetable oil and 2 tablespoons olive oil in a wide, heavy skillet over medium heat until a corner of one of the coated chops gives off a lively sizzle when dipped in the oil. Lay the chops into the oil and fry, turning once, until golden on both sides, about 6 minutes. Transfer to a baking sheet and bake until no trace of pink remains near the bone, about 6 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the salad: Toss the arugula, tomato, onion and mozzarella, if using, together with ¼ cup olive oil in a large bowl until the vegetables are coated. Add vinegar, salt and pepper to taste and toss well.
Remove the chops from the oven. If they look a little oily, drain them briefly on paper towels. Arrange one chop in the center of each plate and mound half the salad over each chop. Serve immediately.