Breaded Pork Chops - PR Style

Breaded pork chops (Chuletas Empanadas) are a family favorite in my neck of the woods. In the Nuyorican method, we have two ways of making them. One quicky method is to apply the breading and then bake slowly in a medium oven (350°). The other way is listed in the recipe given below. Here, lean pork chops are required, about 1/2-inch thick. They are lightly pounded, breaded and cooked in oil. In the Puerto Rican manner, the herbs used are crushed in a mortar. You can buy a mortar and pestle almost anywhere these days. It can be wood (my preference), aluminum or cast iron. It is an essential tool in Caribbean cooking. We usually served  breaded pork chops with yellow rice or a salad.

An added note: This recipe is from my first cookbook, Puerto Rican Cuisine in America (Thunders Mouth Press - Avalon Books), which is currently going into its third printing. If you're interested in other such recipes, by the book, make me happy. 

CHULETAS EMPANADAS
    (Breaded Pork Chops)

8 pork chops, 1/2-inch thick (about 1 1/2 pounds)
9-10 whole black peppercorns
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 tablespoons fresh oregano or 2 teaspoons dried
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon vinegar
2 eggs lightly beaten
2 cups bread crumbs
Vegetable oil for frying

1. Rinse chops under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels.
2. In a mortar, crush peppercorn, garlic, oregano and salt. Add olive oil and vinegar, and mix. 
3. Place chops between two sheets of plastic wrap and pound lightly with a mallet or a heavy cleaver.
4. Rub seasoning into the pork chops.
5. Dip each chop in the beaten eggs, then coat with bread crumbs, pressing crumbs into both side with heel of hand.
6. Heat oil in a large skillet or frying pan and cook until golden brown (about 4-5 minutes per side). Drain on absorbent paper towels.
    Yield: 4 servings.

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