Cracker Crust Pork Chops

By Ann Fulton

A crispy cracker coating makes these quick-cooking pork chops a family favorite—and the recipe works with chicken too.
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A crispy cracker coating makes these quick-cooking pork chops a family favorite—and the recipe works with chicken too.

 

In the latest edition of Fountain Avenue Kids, brothers James and Oliver demonstrate a recipe they make several times a month for their family. The coating and sauce add fantastic flavor, and aside from the pork, the ingredients are all pantry staples. My family gave these pork chops rave reviews!

Encouraged by their parents and their school (which has long made meal preparation a meaningful part of the curriculum–yay New School Montessori!), brothers James and Oliver began taking an active role in their family’s dinner preparation a little over a year ago.

One of their favorite recipes is a cracker crusted pork chop, which comes together quickly with a short list of ingredients and cooks to golden perfection.

The flavorful chops are on their family’s regular meal rotation, and the boys frequently work as a team to prepare it for their parents. I was delighted they wanted to share the recipe, which is lightly adapted from the 100 Days of Cooking cookbook. 

And because some of us are dippers or enjoy a saucy drizzle, we added a quick honey mustard sauce that heightens the appeal.

 

A crispy cracker coating makes these quick-cooking pork chops a family favorite—and the recipe works with chicken too.

The morning the boys were coming to my house to film the recipe video with me, I mentioned to their mom that while they were welcome to use my skillet, they could bring one from home if they preferred. It occurred to me that the boys may feel more comfortable cooking with the pan they regularly used.

They did bring their pan of choice, and with it came a great tip. Because the pork chops are sautéed, I assumed their pick would be a traditional, low-sided skillet, perhaps cast iron or stainless steel. Instead, they brought a Dutch oven.

James pointed out that the high sides contain most of the splatter, making cleanup easy. Because the pot’s diameter is narrower than a 12-inch skillet, however, they must cook the following recipe of four pork chops in two batches. But with the quick cooking time, that’s not a big deal.

As promised, these golden chops cooked up quickly to golden perfection, and my stovetop required barely a wipe.

It’s easy to get in a rut of doing things the same way over and over, and a fresh perspective can be helpful. Another benefit of cooking with others—and a welcome reminder of how enlightening a youthful perspective can be.

A crispy cracker coating makes these quick-cooking pork chops a family favorite—and the recipe works with chicken too.

Once the crackers are ground into coarse crumbs and combined with the spices, the pork chops are pressed into the cracker mixture. Here, Oliver is making sure to coat them well on all sides.

A crispy cracker coating makes these quick-cooking pork chops a family favorite—and the recipe works with chicken too.

The pork chops cook quickly –– just 3 to 4 minutes per side.

A crispy cracker coating makes these quick-cooking pork chops a family favorite—and the recipe works with chicken too.

When the pork chops are golden and cooked through, you may sprinkle with Parmesan cheese or drizzle with honey mustard sauce, if desired. 

A crispy cracker coating makes these quick-cooking pork chops a family favorite—and the recipe works with chicken too.

James and Oliver made this recipe with chicken recently, and their family gave it the thumbs up. The original pork version, however, is the boys’ personal favorite.

James and Oliver often serve these cracker crusted pork chops with a side of applesauce and sliced cucumbers or hummus and raw vegetables. This was yet another helpful reminder that we need not cook everything on our plate to make a satisfying and delicious meal.

For the pictures, we had fun creating an artistic swoosh with the hummus and topping with halved cherry tomatoes and sliced mini cucumbers. For the sake of the photos, we added a sprinkle of dill and parsley that I had on hand, and while it supplied visual appeal and a hint of fresh flavor, it’s totally optional.

Thinking it would complement their recipe and appeal to those who like to dip or drizzle, I shared my honey mustard sauce recipe with the boys. They enjoyed that pairing, and now prepare the quick sauce regularly at home. 

Triscuits are key to the lovely crust on these pork chops, and because this texture of this cracker is unique, coming up with a worthy gluten-free alternative could have been tricky. However, after scanning the cracker aisle and considering gluten-free breading options I’ve previously employed, I had a good feeling about Mary’s Gone Crackers herb crackers.

Happily, the result was a success, and gluten-eating testers who had previously enjoyed the Triscuit-coated pork chops agreed that this was an excellent alternative.

James coming down the homestretch in a XC race.

James is an accomplished piano player and started running high school cross country last summer. On the day of our photo shoot, he had an early morning practice and ran seven miles. His mom also mentioned that he had an evening practice the night before, where the team ran eight miles. 

Oliver running in a cross country race

Oliver plays baseball and also runs cross country, and I’ve enjoyed seeing both of them run in a meet! As with many kids in sports, James and Oliver are focused on protein, and these pork chops deliver a good bit. 

A crispy cracker coating makes these quick-cooking pork chops a family favorite—and the recipe works with chicken too.

Simple ingredients, a short cooking time, and great flavor are sure to make these crispy coated pork chops a regular on the meal rotation. A quick honey mustard sauce takes them to the next level!  

Tips for best-tasting pork chops:

• To ensure juicy, tender meat, avoid overcooking.
• Grind the crackers to crumbs but not sand. Leaving some coarser crumbs will enhance the texture of the finished pork chops.

Cracker Crust Pork Chops
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 8 minutes
Total Time: 23 minutes
Yield: 4 servings
A crispy cracker coating makes these quick-cooking pork chops a family favorite—and it works with chicken too. The recipe may easily be cut in half or doubled. If doubling, simply cook in two batches.
Ingredients

• 14 whole-grain crackers (62g/2.2oz) such as Triscuits or the Back to Nature version (see notes for gluten-free alternative)
• ½ teaspoon each paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, and dried thyme
• ¼ teaspoon each salt and black pepper
• 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
• 4 pork chops boneless and thin, about ¾” thick
• Optional for serving: Freshly grated Parmesan cheese or honey mustard sauce (see notes)

Instructions

1. In a food processor, pulse together the crackers and spices (paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, thyme, salt and pepper) until crumbly. You don’t want a powder—make sure you keep a little texture. Transfer to a large plate and set aside.
2. Press the pork chops into the cracker mixture, making sure to coat them well on all sides.*
3. Heat the olive oil in a 12-inch skillet** over medium heat—you want just enough to lightly cover the surface. When hot, add the pork chops and cook until golden brown on both sides and no longer pink in the middle, about 3 to 4 minutes each side. (If you take the internal temperature, the center should register 140℉. Removing from the heat at this temperature will prevent dry or tough meat, as carryover cooking will take the temperature to the recommended 145℉).
4. As an option, you could bake the chops in an oven preheated to 450℉ for 15 to 20 minutes.
5. Serve as is or with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese or a drizzle of honey mustard sauce.

Notes

*The natural moisture of the pork chops allows the crumbs to stick, but if your chops are freshly cut and feel somewhat dry, simply brush them with olive oil.
**As an alternative to a skillet, you may cook the chops in a Dutch oven. The higher sides will reduce splatter. In this case, you will likely need to cook the chops in two batches, adding an extra drizzle of oil between batches as needed.

Need a gluten-free option? Mary’s Gone Crackers herb crackers are an excellent substitute for those who require a gluten-free meal. They are lighter than Triscuits, so you will need 22 of them. They are also harder than the typical cracker so require a slightly longer time in the food processor to become crumbs. And because these crackers contain seeds, the coating will brown faster. If the pork chops become sufficiently brown before they are cooked through, simply reduce the heat to medium low and extend the cooking time as needed.

Honey Mustard Sauce: In a small bowl, combine ½ cup (104g) mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons (30g) Dijon mustard, 1½ tablespoons (30g) honey, and an optional ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper or 2 teaspoons sriracha (or more or less to taste). Sauce will keep in the refrigerator for 2 weeks or more.

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