I am going to get off on a tangent right away. I made these wonderful panko fried pork chops last night and it took me right back to the Snappy Lunch in Mt. Airy, N.C. and their world-famous fried pork chop sandwich. In another life, when I was the movie critic for the Charlotte Observer, I traveled to far-off Mt. Airy to do a story about the enduring nostalgia of Mayberry and the Andy Griffith Show. Mt. Airy was the model for Mayberry and the Snappy Lunch was a part of that landscape. The story turned out fine, but the biggest hit of the trip was eating a fried pork chop sandwich at the Snappy Lunch. Oh, my goodness. Deep-fried goodness.
The fried pork chop sandwich features a pork chop that cannot be contained by a mere hamburger bun. It overflows on every side. It is deep fried and then topped with coleslaw and a slice of tomato. It was utterly delicious and after consuming the entire thing I did not even care if my interview with Andy Griffith was a tad testy (sadly, he was not very nice) or my disappointment that Aunt Bea would not talk to me at all (she had turned into kind of a recluse).
So last night I was thinking of those sandwiches when I made the panko fried pork chops. I am quite sure that panko is not even a known quantity at the Snappy Lunch but I have come to adore it (or them). Panko are Japanese bread crumbs. They’re very crunchy and they’re the perfect coating for frying.
And talk about easy. Here’s what you do. Take some of the bread crumbs and put them on a plate. Mix in a little salt, pepper and whatever dried herbs you like. I usually use oregano. Now, rinse the chops in cold water and press the bread crumbs on both sides. Some people use the flour/egg/bread crumb method but I think that’s a complete waste of time.
Get a generous amount of vegetable oil hot in a skillet and fry them until both sides are golden brown. You want your pork to be on the rosy side so don’t cook the hell out of it. Just press down on the second side and if it gives a little, take it out of the pan!
I am not embarrassed to say that I usually serve these pork chops with that five-minute dressing out of a box. I have determined, after making about 437 pans of dressing, that you cannot tell the difference and sometimes that boxed dressing is even better.