I feel as though this recipe doesn’t need much of an introduction. It’s tender, juicy, slightly sweet pork chops coated in something crunchy. I know, you’re already putting your coat on to go to the grocery store and pick up the necessary ingredients. But wait: Don’t you want to read the recipe first?
Hazelnut-encrusted pork chops
1 thick-cut (~1.5 inches) pork chop per person
1 egg, beaten
3/4 C chopped hazelnuts
2 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp ground thyme or chopped fresh thyme
Olive or canola oil
I know. I am definitely not the first person to encrust meats with hazelnuts and then bake them into a juicy, tender entree. But the other night I came up with this wonderful little treat and could not help but share it. Note: this dish can easily be made into a meal by adding a side of fruit or veggies (think steamed greens or grilled peaches).
Before I begin I feel I should warn you that one serving is one half of a pork chop. The hazelnut mixture as listed will cover 3 to 4 enormous pork chops. The chops I picked up were probably about 2/3 lbs each, and once you batter and coat them with hazelnuts, they are pretty hefty. However, chopped up and reheated, these guys make a great topping to a fancy lunch salad. You’re welcome.
On to the making!
Step 1: Preheat your oven to 350F. Now grind up your hazelnuts into a coarse powder—you can do this using a mortar and pestle OR you can leave them in the bag and smash them with a flat, heavy object (bottom of an unbreakable cup, hammer, 1980’s TV remote, or whathaveyou). Now mix up with the other dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
Step 2: Beat egg for one minute in a small bowl with a fork or a whisk; set aside. Get out a glass baking pan—9X13″ worked for me, although I only made three pork chops. Drizzle a SMALL amount of olive or canola oil, like a teaspoon, on the bottom of the pan (or spray if you have one of those).
Step 3: Smash your pork chops! Pork chops should be 1.5 to 2 inches thick when you purchase them—we want to get them down to about 3/4 of an inch. I did this by placing the chops under a piece of cling wrap and beating them with a hammer for a couple minutes. Mmmm… tenderized meat!
Step 4: One at a time, dip pork chops first into the egg, then into the hazelnuts. Make sure they’re evenly coated on both sides, then line them up in your baking pan. That was easy, wasn’t it? Put those bad boys into the oven, uncovered, and check every five minutes after 40 minutes. Cooking time will depend on the final thickness of the chops, so check by cutting into the middle of one of the chops. Don’t mess around with trichinosis! Make sure all pinkness is gone before taking them out—I find that the hazelnut coating keeps the moisture in really nicely even when they’re well done.
Step 5: Try not to look like a monstrous carnivore while devouring. Seriously, though, this is a great dish because prep is straightforward, and you can ignore them once they’re in the oven—no flipping, covering, uncovering, or brow furrowing required. You can use that time to do anything you want: Watch Sportscenter; check your e-mail; throw a Frisbee with your neighbors; or turn your porkchops into a meal by preparing a salad or some other kind of produce-oriented side dish. See? Endless options!