Who remembers Shake 'n Bake, that unique if not silly little product that brought so much fun and flavor to family life in the 60s and 70s? It was even touted as a health food, as it was meant to be a substitute for frying pork or chicken. Adverts of the day joyously hawked Shake 'n Bake as they showed mothers and children blithely preparing dinner, and it couldn't be any simpler. The commercial would usually end with the child uttering the catchphrase "And I helped," sometimes in such a painfully bastardized Southern accent that it grated on my true Southern ears.
Well, last I checked, S&B is still around, and I must admit that before I got into gourmet cooking I used it a time or two as an adult. I actually never got to utter that phrase 'And I helped," vis a vis Shake 'n Bake, as my mother never bought it. She was more into frying things like pork chops and chicken anyway, but otherwise was too frugal to shell out whatever they charged for S&B back in the 60s and 70s. She probably figured "why pay 39 cents for something I can make with breadcrumbs and some seasoning?"
Well, with Shake 'n Bake running a few bucks a box these days, that logic couldn't be any sounder. Plus, you can make something much better in minutes than what comes in that S&B box, and avoid things like high fructose corn syrup and Thiamin Mononitrate (whatever that is),
So, anyhoo, this really isn't a Shake 'n Bake clone recipe--there's no shaking involved, just dredging, and we also have a marinating step in Ranch Dressing. I like to make my own Ranch (homemade is always better these days, no?) but it only lasts a few days since there are no preservatives, so this recipe is a great way to use it up before it turns. Otherwise, store-bought is fine for this recipe, so don't fret.
2 Pork Chops
1/2 Cup Ranch Dressing
1 Cup Panko Breadcrumbs
1/2 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
1 Teaspoon Black Pepper
1 Teaspoon Rubbed Sage
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
Pat Pork Chops dry. I'm using boneless here, but bone in would be fine--just remember there's a bone in there under all that coating when you're done. Pour Ranch Dressing in plastic bag and add pork chops.
Toss to coat chops.
Let chops marinate for a few hours in the bags inside your fridge
Preheat oven to 450F
Mix remaining dry ingredients in a bowl. Dry sage is fine here. Make sure to use Panko breadcrumbs instead of regular--they'll make a much better breading.
Dredge the ranch-coated pork chops in the breading...
...until it is well-coated with the cheese/breadcrumb mixture.
Bake for 20 minutes at 450F, then reduce heat to 350F and continue to bake until pork chops are done (140F on a meat thermometer)
Note, I'm using pretty thick chops in this recipe, about 3/4 to 1 inch, so the cooking time shown above is merited for that thickness. If you use thinner chops, such as those really thin 'family value' chops grocery stores sometimes sell, check the temp sooner, like at 15 minutes. If you don't have a meat thermometer, watch for the juices to run clear as a sign of doneness. (you really should have a meat thermometer, though!)
Anyhoo, serve them up with some hearty sides, like the green beans and mashed potatoes we've served here.
Until next time,