Harvest baked pork chops

Nothing screams comfort food more than the change in the weather from hot to cool, am I right? Pork and apples are pure bliss when paired together. 

You will definitely want to add this to your fall menu – it might not look amazing photographed but it is amazing on your taste buds. Follow along with me as I show you how to make these delicious Harvest Baked Panko Pork Chops.

Ingredients:

  • 4 Center Cut Bone-In Pork Chops
  • 2-3 Apples (Paula Red or Braeburn)
  • 1 Large Onion
  • 3 tablespoons plus 1 tablespoon of Butter
  • 3 tablespoon of Olive Oil
  • 1 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 2 Eggs*
  • 1/2 cup Flour (for dusting chops)*
  • 1 cup of Bread Crumbs/Panko*

*Breading is optional

What is the difference between panko and breadcrumb?

Panko and breadcrumbs are both used as coatings for fried or baked dishes, but they differ in texture and performance. Panko, a Japanese-style breadcrumb, is light and airy with larger, coarser crumbs, resulting in a crispier and less oily exterior when frying. It also browns evenly. 

Traditional breadcrumbs, made from dried and ground bread, have a denser texture, absorb more oil during frying, and may not brown as uniformly. Panko is preferred for recipes requiring a light, crispy texture, like tempura or katsu, while traditional breadcrumbs find use in a wide range of dishes, such as meatloaf and stuffing, where a denser coating or binding agent is needed.

Is Panko breading better?

Neither panko bread crumbs nor traditional are universally better than the other; it depends on the intended dish and the texture you want to achieve. Consider the recipe and your personal taste preferences when choosing between them. Some people even use a combination of both to achieve a desired texture and flavor profile.

They have distinct qualities:

Panko vs breadcrumbs

Panko Breadcrumbs:

Advantages: Panko is favored for its light and airy texture, resulting in a crispier and less greasy coating when frying or baking. It often provides a more even browning and a delicate, crunchy texture.

Common Uses: Panko is commonly used in recipes where a light and crispy texture is desired, such as tempura, katsu, or dishes that require a delicate and crunchy exterior.

Panko Breadcrumbs (per 1/4 cup serving):

  • Calories: Approximately 110-120 calories
  • Carbohydrates: Approximately 23-25 grams

Traditional Breadcrumbs:

Advantages: Traditional breadcrumbs are denser and can absorb more moisture, making them suitable for recipes where a heavier or moist coating is needed. They are also often used as a binding agent in various dishes.

Common Uses: Traditional breadcrumbs are versatile and used in a wide range of recipes, including meatloaf, meatballs, casseroles, and as a filler or binder in stuffin

Traditional Breadcrumbs (per 1/4 cup serving):

  • Calories: Approximately 110-130 calories
  • Carbohydrates: Approximately 20-25 grams

Please note that these values are rough estimates and can vary based on the brand and any added ingredients or seasonings in the breadcrumbs. For precise nutritional information, refer to the product’s packaging or the manufacturer’s website.

How To Make the Baked Panko Pork Chops


Step 1 – The Oven

Preheat oven to 350. In a cast iron skillet (or any skillet that can be put in the oven), melt the 3 tablespoons of butter plus the oil so it’s hot.

Step 2 – If breading the chops…

Prepare three bowls as in the picture.

Dip each chop in all purpose flour, then beaten egg mixture (shake off excess beaten egg), then the breadcrumbs of your choice.

harvest pork chops with apples

Step 3 – Searing

Once chops are breaded and skillet is hot, sear the chops. (You’re not cooking them through-just getting a nice crust on them!)

pork chops with apples
apple pork chops

To improve the tenderness of baked pork chops, consider using thicker cuts, avoiding overcooking, adding moisture, using sealing methods, and paying attention to the quality of the meat. These steps can make a significant difference in the final texture and taste of your baked pork chops.

Step 4 – Onion and apples

Remove seared chops from skillet and set aside. Cut onion into rings and apples into chunks. Dust the apples with the cinnamon. Melt remaining butter in skillet and add onion rings and apple chunks that have been dusted.

Add a little bit of salt and, if you fancy, a teaspoon garlic powder too.

apples in cinnamon

Let apples and onions cook down a bit.

apple and onion pork chops

Step 5 – Adding back the chops

Once they are cooked down, remove 3/4 of the mixture from the skillet, turn off the heat, and add the seared pork cutlets to the bottom of the skillet on top of the remaining mixture.

Then add the rest of the mixture over the top of the breaded pork chops.

fall pork chops
pork chops with apples

Step 6 – To the Oven

Cover the skillet with aluminum foil. Cover even the handle! Transfer the whole thing to the oven for 1 hour. For the last 10 minutes, remove the foil.

To make sure they’re cooked just right and safe to eat, use a special thermometer called a meat thermometer. Stick it into the thickest part of the pork chop, and when it shows an internal temperature of 145°F, it means they’re done and good to enjoy!

apple pork chops

The apple and onion mixture turn into almost a chunky sauce.

onion apple pork chops

Served in this photo with sweet potato stacks and boiled green beans. But you can be creative and combine whatever! The classic potatoes are always a winner.

Adding mayonnaise or dijon mustard go really really well with this meat. And for cheese lovers, Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top is delicious.

I didn’t do it this time but adding spices like oregano o basil is also a winner and adds a bit of color.

harvest baked apple pork chops

The prep time is under 1 hour and a half and not only pork chops are incredibly delicious but also really nutritious. 

FAQS

Are pork chops good for you?

They are a good source of high-quality protein, providing essential amino acids necessary for various bodily functions, including muscle maintenance and repair. Pork chops also contain several essential vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin B12, vitamin B6, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, selenium, zinc, and iron, which play important roles in overall health. 

While pork chops do contain some fat, the majority of it is unsaturated and monounsaturated fat, which is considered heart-healthy when consumed in moderation. The saturated fat content, while present, is not excessively high in a standard serving.

Why are my baked pork chops not tender?

Baked pork chops may not turn out tender for several reasons, and addressing these factors can help you achieve a more tender result:

  1. Overcooking: Overcooking pork chops is a common reason for them becoming dry and tough. Pork chops should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145°F (63°C) followed by a 3-minute rest. Cooking them beyond this temperature can cause them to lose moisture and tenderness.
  2. Lean Cuts: Pork chops can vary in fat content. Lean cuts, such as center-cut or loin chops, have less fat marbling, making them more susceptible to drying out during cooking. Consider using cuts with more fat marbling, like rib chops, which can help maintain moisture and tenderness.
  3. Thin Chops: Thin pork chops can cook quickly and easily become overcooked, leading to toughness. Thicker chops are often more forgiving and have a better chance of staying tender.
  4. Lack of Moisture: If you don’t use any liquids or a marinade while baking, the chops can dry out during the cooking process. Adding moisture through a marinade, sauce, or even just a drizzle of olive oil can help retain tenderness.
  5. No Sealing Method: Using a method to seal in moisture, such as searing the chops in a hot pan before baking or using a foil pouch, can help prevent moisture loss and keep the pork chops tender.
  6. Quality and Brining: Starting with high-quality pork chops and brining them before cooking can enhance their tenderness and flavor.
  7. Resting Time: Allowing the pork chops to rest for a few minutes after baking helps redistribute the juices throughout the meat, making it more tender and flavorful.

Is it better to bake pork chops fast or slow?

Whether to bake pork chops fast or slow depends on your preferences and the thickness of the chops. 

Fast baking at higher temperatures (around 400°F or higher) is ideal for thin chops, providing a quick, nicely browned exterior but requiring careful monitoring to prevent overcooking. 

Slow baking at lower temperatures (around 325°F or lower) is better for thicker or bone-in chops, resulting in more tenderness and moisture but requiring more time. 

The choice should align with your desired texture and available time, with a meat thermometer being essential to ensure the chops reach an internal temperature of 145°F for safe consumption regardless of the method used. 

Are pork chops good leftover?  

Leftover pork chops are great if they are properly stored and reheated. The key to enjoying leftover pork chops is to ensure they retain their moisture and flavor during storage and reheating. 

Here are some tips:

  1. Storage: After cooking, allow the pork chops to cool to room temperature before placing in the refrigerator. Store them in an airtight container or wrap them tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Proper storage helps prevent moisture loss and maintains their flavor.
  2. Reheating: When reheating leftover pork chops, use methods that minimize moisture loss and maintain their texture. The oven is the best option. Avoid the microwave, as this can make the chops soggy.
  3. Flavor Enhancements: If the leftover pork chops seem a bit dry after reheating, consider adding a sauce like mayo or gravy to add moisture and flavor. This can help make them more enjoyable.
  4. Use in Other Dishes: Leftover pork chops can be chopped or sliced and used as an ingredient in other dishes, such as salads, sandwiches, or stir-fries. Incorporating them into new recipes can give them a fresh twist.
  5. Monitor Temperature: Always use a meat thermometer to ensure that the reheated pork chops reach an internal temperature of 145°F (63°C) to ensure they are safe to eat.

Ultimately, whether leftover pork chops are good or not depends on how they are stored and reheated. When done correctly, leftover pork chops can be a convenient and tasty option for a second meal.

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