In the last class I taught you how to make Spaghetti Alle Vongole and some killer garlic bread. I’m hoping you made it and even tried the in rosso variety.
This week I wanted to teach you the technique of scallopini. Pork chop scallopini to be exact. I’m crazy for this dish and when I was a younger man living in New York I used to wait in line every Sunday morning at La Caridad just to get a plate of it. The mouth feel for this dish is incredible because it is cooked quickly so it is crisp on the outside and super tender on the inside. Add in the delicious herbs and spices and believe me, you will not be able to stop eating it! I dream about La Caridad and this dish to this day, so I decided that I must share my version of this fabulousness.
Before we get into the recipe, I want to talk about scallopini and bone-in pork chops. Scallopini is an Italian technique that means thinly sliced meat coated in flour. Usually it is served with a piccata sauce. You can use any kind of thinly sliced or pounded meat with this technique: lamb, beef, chicken or pork. My favorite is the bone-in pork chop. For this recipe you will need center cut chops. You want the bone-in chop to be center cut because this cut is one solid muscle, so when you pound it thin (more on this later) the meat doesn’t pull away from the bone. They sell this cut at your local supermarket. Bonus, with the bone left on it makes a spectacular presentation.
Now let’s get cooking!
This recipe will serve four people. You will need: eight 5-6 ounce bone-in center cut pork chops, one large pie pan, one large sauté pan, one ½ cups canola oil, tongs, a plate, pastry brush, meat tenderizer, plastic wrap, spray oil, one ½ cups flour, salt, pepper, large bowl, ¾ tablespoon garlic puree (equal parts garlic & canola oil blended in a blender), ¾ tablespoon sweet chili, juice of one lemon, juice of one lime, one teaspoon red wine vinegar, ½ cup chopped cilantro, two tablespoons olive oil and a whisk.
First you need to get the pork chop to 1/8 of an inch thickness. How do you do this? You pound it using a meat tenderizer. If you don’t have one, don’t panic, you can also use a heavy rolling pin. In order to pound the chops correctly you need to put them, one at a time, between to pieces of plastic wrap that have been sprayed with oil. Place the chop between the sprayed wrap and begin pounding, making sure that you keep a consistent thickness to the chop. Note: you do not have to pound hard, so pound with the wrist, not the elbow. Once all the chops are pounded, sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper. Remember, you season at every stage of a recipe to create delicious.
Set the seasoned pounded chops aside.
Next, in a large pie pan combine the flour with one teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Now, place your large sauté pan on the stove and add in the canola oil. Put the burner to medium-high and let it heat until you see a slight amount of smoke. Once you see the smoke your oil is ready for the chops. Waiting for the oil to get to the proper temperature is a crucial step. If you don’t wait for the right temp your chops will be soggy and greasy instead of crispy.
While the oil is coming to temp, dredge your seasoned and pounded chops in the flour making sure both sides are well coated. Shake off any excess flour and place chops on a plate.
Once the oil is hot, using the tongs carefully place two chops into the sauté pan. Do not fry more than two chops at a time or the oil temperature will drop and again, you will get soggy and greasy chops instead of delightfully crispy. Cook chops about two minutes on each side until golden brown. Continue this until all chops are fried. You will not be draining the chops on paper towels because you want the residual oil to mix with the glaze you are going to brush on the chops.
For the glaze you will want to put the lemon and lime juice, garlic puree, red wine vinegar, sweet chili, cilantro and olive oil into a large bowl. Whisk until well combined. Using a pastry brush, generously brush this glaze on both sides of your fried chops. That’s it!
I like to eat these the way I had them at La Caridad with plantains and black beans. But you can serve them with almost any of your favorite sides. Think herb roasted potatoes and a lightly dressed salad. Or a warm potato salad and roasted mushrooms.
Now that you have the technique, you can use it on a variety of meats. Think about trying it on a pounded chicken breast that has been rubbed with olive oil, granulated garlic and ground cumin before being dredged in the flour.
Remember, as with any technique or recipe, the most important component is the cook’s heart. The heart is what helps you create delicious meals you’ll never forget.
Chef Flowers has over 25 years of fine cuisine experience. The former Executive Chef at Top of The Market, San Diego, also owned Fournos restaurant in Sedona, Arizona, named a top 25 restaurant in Arizona. He was also Executive Chef at L’Auberge de Sedona, the AAA Four-Diamond, Four Star award winning restaurant. Flowers has created extraordinary cuisine for some of the finest restaurants in Arizona, including T. Cooks at Scottsdale's Royal Palms Resort and the Phoenician's Mary Elaine's and Different Pointe of View.