An Inspiring Recipe for Pork in a Walnut Crust

This week Dale has written an intriguing food essay for us, as well as created a company entrée you and your company will love. How about trying the pork with a walnut crust  and then writing us about your experience? We love to hear from you. Just look at the bottom of this post and click on Comments.

Dale’s World:

Pork Chops in a Crust of Walnuts with Thyme

We put a crust around foods to keep them from being too dry. Pork, chicken, veal and turkey in particular, can usually benefit from a crust. Most of you have made breaded pork chops and can verify that they are definitely embellished by the breading. Most often the crust is formed with bread or cracker crumbs, but sometimes dough or puff pastry is used or just plain salt.

Occasionally, we can enhance the flavor of the meat by the addition of cheese, herbs or other ingredients to the crust. In this recipe we are adding finely chopped walnuts and thyme to the bread crumbs to create a crust that is aromatic, protective of the moisture in the meat and boosts the flavor up a notch. Because the moisture is conserved by the crust there is no need for a sauce.

Pork in a Walnut Crust with Thyme

Pork in a Walnut Crust with Thyme

You Will Need:

4 boneless Pork Chops                  ½ cup of Bread Crumbs

1/3 cup of Flour                                    ½ cup of finely chopped Walnuts

2 teaspoons of salt                           2 teaspoons of dried Thyme

1 1/2  teaspoons of Black Pepper         ½ cup of Canola Oil

1 Egg                                             2 Tablespoons of Water

Preparation:

  1. If you have no bread crumbs, make some in your food processor, then spread them on a tray or sheet pan which is large enough to hold the four chops without them overlapping.
  2. Finely chop the walnuts with your chef’s knife or in the food processor. Add the ½ cup of chopped nuts and the two teaspoons of thyme to the bread crumbs and mix them together. Spread them evenly over the surface of the tray or pan.
  3. Trim any excess fat from the chops, but leave a very thin margin of fat all around the edge of the lean meat. That small margin is part of the moisture that we want to conserve.
  1. Put the chops, 1/3 cup of flour, 2 teaspoons of salt and 1 ½ teaspoons of ground black pepper in a paper or plastic bag. Shake the bag to coat the chops. Leave them in the bag until you are ready for the next step.
  2. Crack the egg onto a plate and add the two tablespoons of water to the egg. Beat them together until they are thoroughly mixed. This mixture is called an egg wash.
  3. Heat the Canola oil in a large skillet. Use half power. If your controls are round like a clock, set it at six o’clock. If you have buttons or something else, use the one in the middle.
  4. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  5. While the oil is heating, place a chop in the egg wash. Turn it over to moisten the other side. Place the chop on the bread/nut mixture; one side then another. Press the chop firmly into the bread/nut mixture and leave it there, until ready to cook. Coat the other chops in the same manner.
  6. Place paper towels on a plate. You will use this to drain your chops after cooking.
  7. Have close by, another tray or sheet pan on which you will place the drained pork chops to keep them warm in the oven.
  8. Now is the time to talk about frying and deep frying. They are two different methods. When you deep fry, the food is completely submerged in the cooking fat and the temperature of the fat is around 350 to 360 degrees. That is full power on your range. We are going to fry these chops, not deep fry them. The first difference is that you only need enough fat to come ½ way up your chops. If the chops are one inch thick you need your fat to be ½ inch deep. The second difference is that the temperature in only 250 degrees. The reason we use the lower temperature is so that the walnuts, which already have oil in them, do not overcook. Like in deep frying, the food still does not actually sit on the pan; it floats. If the temperature is lower than 250 degrees it will not float and the coating will stick to the pan.
  9. With that information tucked away in your bright mind, it’s time to test the temperature of the oil. You can use a candy thermometer, meat thermometer or an instant thermometer. If the oil is 250 degrees, you are ready to go. If you have no thermometer, you can test the temperature in this way. Tear off a one inch square of white bread and drop it into the hot oil. If it turns a golden brown in one minute, it’s good to go. If it is still white after one minute, turn up the heat. If it turns black after a minute, turn the heat down.

Cook:

 Place all four chops in the skillet. If there is not room for all four, do two at a time.

  1. When they turn a deep brown, turn them over to cook the top side.
  2. When both sides are cooked. Drain them on the paper towels for a few seconds, then place them on the warming tray and put them in the oven. Let them cook in the oven for ten minutes. The internal temperature needs to reach 165 degrees. If you are not ready to serve in ten minutes, turn the heat off and keep them warm until the rest of your meal is ready.
  3. If you have fresh thyme, place a sprig on each chop when you plate them up.
  4. I admit that this entrée does require more preparation than some others, so cook this when you are not pressed for time. When you can do this leisurely, you will enjoy the whole process and everyone else will enjoy the end result with you.

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A Theology of Food

Last Sunday we celebrated the Lord’s Supper in our church. It is a high holy feast that gives rise to deep introspection. As I sat in my usual pew, up in the balcony, I began to contemplate Christ’s attitude toward food. From a few passages in the Gospels alone, I think we can draw some principles.

Jesus had been invited to a wedding. Well, not really invited. In that culture, you just showed up. Jesus brought some of his friends too – twelve, in fact. With all of those extra guests, it is no wonder that they ran out of wine. I’m sure the mother of the bride was in a real tizzy as she observed the crudités disappearing as fast as the wine had.

Jesus’ own mother came to her son and explained the dilemma. Jesus then turned several vats of water into wine, and it was proclaimed the best at the party. Therein lays principle number one. No, not that we should try turning water into wine, but the principle is: we should make food the best that we can. Quality counts. With whatever resources and time that you have, do your very best.

Jesus liked to throw parties too. At one such event there were 5,000 guests. The only problem was that people evidently didn’t get the message that it was “pot luck”. Everybody was supposed to bring a covered dish, but only one little boy brought anything. Jesus divided it up and had it distributed. Principle number two: Share.

Last week I made my favorite carrot cake. It’s done in a Bundt pan, so it is a hefty cake. More than I can eat. I got a special thrill out of cutting slices then taking some to my neighbors up stairs and across the hall.

We have some opportunities to share food at our church which may be unique, but I’m sure you could think of some ways that will work where you live. Once a month we bring food to fill a local food bank for the poor. Another opportunity we have is with our free preschool for underprivileged children. We bring the food for the little tykes’ lunch and a group from the church prepares it. Every Tuesday there is another cadre of cooks and pot scrubbers from First Pres that work in our local soup kitchen. Sharing is fun; just ask any of them.

Principle number three: Make memories with food. RuthAnn makes her special apple dessert for her youngest son, every Christmas. That dish will remind Steve of her love for many years to come. My special food memory is of my grandmother’s macaroni and cheese. We never had that at our house, but my grandmother made it for me every time I visited. Make memories with your family and friends. Jesus did. At the last supper that He shared with them, He asked that they remember Him whenever they enjoyed that meal together.

As I sat in church thinking, one other event came to mind. It was after Christ’s death and burial. His friends were disappointed, afraid and goalless. Peter said, “I’m going fishing”. (Men often do that when they are depressed.) The others followed because they had nothing better to do. All night long they hurled out the heavy nets and heaved them back into the boat. Over and over, but no fish. They were wet, cold, tired and sick at heart.

As the golden sun began to ignite the grey horizon they heard someone calling to them from the shore. He wanted to know if they had caught anything. They yelled back “No”. Then, whoever it was, said, “Throw your nets on the other side.” What the heck! they thought, and they did as the man had said.

As they were pulling in the net, (this time it was really heavy) John looked over his shoulder again and squinted his eyes at the figure on the sand. “It’s the Lord”, he gasped. Peter looked up and the specter became real. Peter dropped the net and dived into the water. The others followed in the boat as fast as they could row.

There was breakfast waiting for them, right there on the beach. Jesus had cooked!

While they shared the food, they laughed and relived the good times.  Each of them told and retold of their bewilderment and joy at Jesus’ unexpected appearance and their astonishment at the miraculous haul of fish.

When their stomachs were satisfied and they were content at things being like they used to be, they all got quiet. They knew that Jesus had something important to say to them. He could have explained the mysteries of his atoning work on the cross or the deep wonders of being dead and coming to life again, but He didn’t. Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.”

Theology is not hard to understand; it’s as easy as sharing a meal with your family, friends or strangers.

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5 Responses to An Inspiring Recipe for Pork in a Walnut Crust

  1. Andrew says:

    Uncle Dale,
    I made these pork chops for dinner tonight and they turned out marvelously. They weren’t boneless pork chops, but they were just remarkably juicy and flavorful. You know, like when you take that first bite and you immediately start eyeing the other pork chops wondering just how fast you can eat it just to get another. I was going to make them on Thursday, and had started to prepare them, only to discover we really weren’t hungry and then yesterday, I did Martha Stewart’s recipe for Boston Baked Bean (also mighty tasty) so the pork chops sat in the refrigerator for two days all floured snug in a Ziplock bag. I was worried, but for no good reason because they were marvelously delicious. I used peanut oil to cook them in, I don’t know how much that might have changed the flavor, but these are by far my favorite pork chops I’ve made since I’ve Vern at mother’s.
    (We’ve had them three times now). 😏. She loves pork chops! So I make them for her. I think she’d be perfectly content with corn on the cob, pork chops and sliced tomatoes….all the time. 🙂

    I just thought I’d share our enjoyment of the pork chops with you.
    Love, Andrew

  2. This is such a moving entry. Thank you RuthAnn and Dale! I never really thought of a family meal in exactly this way. It is a truly selfless act by the chef, and a chance for the rest of the family to appreciate and love each other! :]]

  3. Vinny Grette says:

    Walnuts are such a great choice for healthy eating, and I’m collecting recipes featuring them. You’ll find a couple on my site right now (last 2 weeks), although the salmon recipe now featured packs even more of the omega-3 I’m promoting. I love the gourmet presentations you are posting 🙂 .

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