Fried Pork Chops

Fried Pork Chops - traditional sides

A couple of weeks ago, I was planning my grocery shopping and asked my husband if there was anything he would like for dinner that night.  After some consideration, he proffered, “Fried pork chops.”

As soon as he said the words I was transported to my early childhood.  I had not yet started living with my grandparents, and on Fridays my Grandma would pick me up to spend the weekends with her.  Almost every Friday night, she would prepare one of my favorite meals: fried pork chops, white rice, and steamed sliced carrots.  Sometimes there would be Sunbeam dinner rolls served on the side.  There would always be a dessert, but they were overshadowed by the chops.  What I remember is how the smell of the pork chops frying would prick at my tastebuds and make my mouth water.  I would bob in and out of kitchen, looking at the bubbling grease and the frying chops, the bowl of flour to bread them.  I would notice how blood rose out of the bones as they fried, but I was not disturbed by this.  Instead, I marveled at the transformative power of cooking.

At last they would be ready, and I would sit at the table waiting to be awarded my plate. I would first grab my pork chop, bits of the crust flaking away.  I would devour every bit of meat and crust on it, suck the bone dry, maybe even try to dig out the gristle or marrow.  The salted crisp of the breading melted on my tongue, preparing the way for the tender pork processional from each bite.  Then I would stick forkfuls of rice into the crumbs so that they wouldn’t be wasted, mashing the sticky rice onto the plate so that no trace of the chop would be wasted.  I ate in a near frenzy of pure pork devotion.  It was one of my very favorite meals.

Years later, fried pork chops aren’t a food I have considered in a long time.  They are homely, and they take a little work.  I haven’t eaten them in over 10 years.  At some point when I was in high school my Grandma quit frying, because she was aging and it was painful for her to stand over the stove.  At that point fried pork chops faded from my gustatory repertoire.  But now, these chops demanded my consideration. I was confronted with the challenge of making them.  I knew it would not be as easy as I remembered.  For one, I have never understood how my Grandma achieved such a crisp crust on her fried foods using only flour.  No eggs, no milk, no soakers — nothing.

Knowing my own limitations, and also what works for me in the kitchen, I decided to change the preparation techniques a bit so that I would have results consistent with memory.  Even though I changed the way they were breaded and fried, I seasoned the chops traditionally.  To do so, I used a staple of my Grandma’s pantry, also a staple of mine:

Lawry's Seasoned Salt

Lawry’s Seasoned Salt.  In our house it went on pork and beef.  Not french fries, not chicken, not veggies.  Just pork and beef.  It’s the secret to Southern flavor, or at least how I remember it.  After seasoning the chops with Lawry’s, some pepper, and a whisper of cayenne, I soaked them in buttermilk.  Then, I dredged them in a flour and cornstarch blend and fried them in vegetable oil.  I wanted to achieve the salted tang the meat held in memory as well as a perfectly crisped crust.  The technique worked brilliantly.

To serve, I chose traditional veggie sides that would appear on my family’s table in summer.  I skipped the steamed sliced carrots in favor of corn on the cob, sliced cucumbers, and sliced tomatoes.  With veggies so fresh, there’s no need to have anything overcooked or very complex.  In a nod to my Grandma’s meals, I served white rice.

Traditional summer veggies

My husband and I ate the meal on our back porch, enjoying the breeze, the summer evening, the food.  We gnawed on pork chops and talked about how we remembered eating them.  His mom served them up with mashed potatoes.  Sounds good for winter.  Because, of course, I am already looking forward to making these again.  Some traditions need to be remembered and continued.

Do you have any homely, everyday family recipe traditions that you would like to continue? I’d like to hear about them. They don’t have to be fancy to be important.

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I am submitting this recipe to July’s Family Recipes event, hosted by Shelby of The Life and Loves of Grumpy’s Honey Bunch and created by Laura of The Spiced Life.

Fried Pork Chops

Fried Pork Chops

  • 4 bone-in pork chops
  • Lawry’s Seasoned Salt
  • freshly cracked black pepper
  • a couple pinches of cayenne
  • 1-2 C buttermilk (enough to cover chops)
  • 2 C flour
  • 2 T cornstarch
  • vegetable oil for frying

Season pork chops on both sides with Lawry’s and black pepper.  On one side, sprinkle a pinch or two of cayenne pepper over the chops.  Place the chops in a baking dish that just holds the chops, then pour buttermilk over the chops to cover them.  It should take between 1 and 2 cups.  Let the pork chops rest for about 30 minutes while you prepare the breading and the oil.  Combine the flour and cornstarch on a plate or a shallow dish, stirring together with a fork.  Heat a 1/4″ of vegetable oil in a large skillet to 350º.  When the oil is hot, remove a chop from the buttermilk, shake off the excess liquid, then dredge both sides of the chop through the flour.  Fry the chops in a single layer for 5-7 minutes per side.  The chops will be golden, and the coating will bubble and crisp up.  If you have to fry the chops in two batches, be aware that they will cook a little quicker and darken faster.  Remove the chops to a rack or paper towel lined plate to drain.  Serve hot.  Leftover chops are delicious cold from the fridge and will keep for up to three days.  However, they are best eaten the next day.

Serves 4.

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29 thoughts on “Fried Pork Chops

  1. A lovely post Hayley. Extremely well written! You make me want to taste the chops right now! I will definitely be bookmarking your recipe for Grumpy and myself to try in the very near future! Thank you for participating!

  2. Wow, they look great! You should come to Umbria where pork is King. I too grew up on pork chops but ours were breaded, always served with buttery mashed potatoes and fried onions. Funny how memories of food can so easily take you back to your youth!

    • You had me at “pork.” I am dying to take an eating tour across Italy. It sounds like your family’s version is a cross between mine and my husband’s. I have to make this again, because my mother felt that the lack of onion gravy was a crime.

  3. Ooooh, pork is one of my favorite meats! My grandmother used to prepare boneless pork chops, breaded, fried and served with a tomato gravy and white rice 🙂 I’ll have to try out your recipe soon!

  4. Man I have never loved plain (i.e., without something sweet or fruity) pork but now I want to! And what a great post, perfect for the event. Thanks for submitting it!

  5. good ol’ lawry’s. you appear to have done a masterful job at recreating a favorite, and may i say, i concur with your husband’s whims—-i could go for some fried pork chops for dinner too.

    • Yes, Lawry’s is a pantry staple. I was very pleased with his ideas. Tonight, he requested that I figure out some homemade Swiss Cake rolls. He’s a regular idea factory.

  6. Heh. That Lawry’s bottle brings back memories. I don’t have any in my kitchen, but this is making me think I need some! 🙂

    LOVE, love, love fried pork chops. In fact, my mom made them for me for my birthday almost every year. This is awesome food at its best.

    • Oh, it does, doesn’t it? It’s worth picking up for a little Southern cooking every once in a while. They haven’t redesigned the packaging in my lifetime as far as I can tell. I am thinking that fried pork chops need to become a traditional food of some sort so I have an excuse to make them.

  7. These photos are wonderful – the food just jumps off the page. And I hear you about the Lawry’s Seasoned Salt – my mom had that, along with Lipton’s Onion Soup Mix!

  8. Ah, Haley you brought back memories! My Grandma & my Mom always made Fried Porkchops for us! Mashed potatoes were a given and naturally some really good Southern Gravy came with! Thanks for sharing. Maybe I should work on week of comfort foods? 🙂 Southern style!

  9. Oh the memories you’ve conjured up with this one. I haven’t had pork chops period in forever. My mother never did the batter-fry thing (although I’m drooling right now) but just threw them in the skillet. My husband likes them, but his mother made the same meal whenever they had pork chops and it included applesauce. So not our family. But I love everybody’s traditions — yours is amazing. And yes, I have a jar of Lawry’s in my pantry.

  10. In our household, it would have to be pork adobo. Pork, garlic, vinegar, bay leaf, black peppercorns, maybe a touch of soy sauce. This was served with plenty of steamed white rice.

    The best part? It tasted better the day after. I haven’t had adobo lechón in years! Hmmm, that’s an idea. Thanks Haley!

  11. Well Hales, you may or may not remember that I don’t eat pork. Or mashed potatoes, so I am lucky they let me grow up in Georgia. However, the mention of Lawry’s just took me back. Believe it or not, I used to sprinkle it on raw tomatoes (still my favorite food…people up here look at me strangely for eating raw tomatoes) and devour it for breakfast (me = not a normal kid).

    But most of all, your post made me think about the loss of some older members of my family and how those who are still around are having to stop frying of quit baking. Seriously, it makes me smile to know you are preserving some of these recipes…they are just such a HUGE part of our culture.

    But here are some Kennedy family favorites that make me close my eyes and think of home:
    Fresh Pear Cobbler
    Raisin Bread (not cinnamon raisin or frosted…you know just bread with raisins in it like my Aunt Reba made…and everybody knows Reba Morgan made the best raisin bread in Georgia) I wonder if there is a way to make this gluten free
    Butterbeans and rice…Yankees have NO IDEA how to cook legumes (or greens for that matter)

    I would say fried chicken but alas, I have been gifted with the ability to use only flour and achieve that flaky golden crust. It’s in the dredge and in watching the frying like a hawk to make sure it is perfect and NEVER EVER using a freakin fry daddy (but you knew that last bit)

    Well, now that I’ve written a novel…I miss you already

    • It’s OK, Erin. I will love you even if you don’t eat pork or mashed potatoes. (I am not a huge fan mashed potatoes myself. They are so much better roasted). I might even bend my Lawry’s rule a bit, because I have tomatoes and I trust that if you say it’s good– it’s good.

      I think it’s necessary to preserve this cooking while I still can. I know I won’t be able to enjoy crisp-fried foods forever, but it was really important to our family growing up, and it lets me remember the good bits: when grandma was younger, when grandpa would devour huge plates of food and heat up his leftovers in a cast iron skillet in the oven. Pre-microwave days.

      I just made a blackberry cobbler (recipe forthcoming), and I think I’m going to have try one with fresh pears. I wouldn’t mind having ALL of the Kennedy family favorites right now. I also know just the raisin bread you mean. My grandma use to make it, too, with a wild yeast starter. So good. If it was really special, it might have some icing, but it was usually plain.

      I am sure we can find a gluten-free way to batter up some chicken. I’m getting started on this project. You’ll be in Richmond eventually, and I’ll have to have some ready for you.

      Meh. It was so good to see you. I miss you tons!

  12. Pingback: Chops & Sauce « Bon Vivant

  13. These are great, we’ve enjoyed pork tenderloin sandwiches for a long time, made with pounded, breaded boneless chops or tenderloins. Served on buns with pickles and ketchup. YUM!

  14. Its been a long time since I have thought of fried pork chops. My Mom would make it with only flour seasoned with salt and pepper. It was divine.

    Same with her fried chicken. Flour, salt, pepper and poultry seasoning. She would them make a pan gravy from the drippings and bits of crust.

    Thank you for bringing back such warm memorys. I can remember coming home from school, walking up the drive way to the wonderful smell of fried pork chops or fried chicken.

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