My mom was not particularly proud of her Polish heritage. She adored and was devoted to her brothers and sisters, and she always told me she was “Papa’s favorite” (though I suspect Papa—my grandfather—was the type who routinely made sure all of his kids and grandkids thought they were his favorite, and I even suspect that each of them was his favorite in different ways and at different times—cf the Erma Bombeck article of many moons ago) –but she just really didn’t much like talking about her Polish roots. She was American, she said, “from the day I was born, right here in the good old USA.” The only time she ever made anything Polish at home, as far as I knew, was when my grandmother was staying with us.

This is why I was surprised to discover only recently that her wonderful pork chops, the pork chops I grew up on and that I still make for my own family today, were actually Polish. My mom just called them “breaded pork chops.” She never bothered to mention that “breaded pork chops” in Polish is kotlety schabowy.

Hope you enjoy them as much as we do!

You will need:

ingredients for mom's pork chops 4-12-14

  • Pork chops (any cut is fine; my mom always used center cut loin chops—the ones that look like little t-bone steaks—but boneless loin chops work well too.)
  • 1 egg  (this is enough for up to about 8 chops)
  • saltine crackers, crushed to small crumbs, but not to powder (I usually just crush a whole tube of crackers, but half a tube is enough for 3 or 4 chops)
  • salt and pepper
  • Lawry’s season salt or McCormick Season-All (they’re basically the same thing, you know)
  • cooking oil
  • three dinner plates
  • a cast iron or other oven-safe heavy frying pan with a lid that fits tightly

pork chop prep

Procedure (the oven should be preheating to 350 while you’re doing all of this):

  1. Break the egg(s) onto the first plate and scramble well.  You can add a teaspoon of water to make it stretch a little further.
  2. Put the crushed crackers on the second plate.
  3. Lightly season the chops to your taste with salt and pepper on one side and Lawry’s on the other.
  4. Dip one chop at a time into the egg and then into the crumbs, coating thoroughly.
  5. Set prepared chops on the third plate while you do the rest.
  6. Heat about 1/3 cup of oil in the cast iron skillet (depends on how many chops you’re doing).
  7. Fry the chops on medium heat, 3 at a time, about four or five minutes on each side until golden brown.   It doesn’t matter if they’re not cooked all the way through.
  8. If you’re only doing three or four, they should all fit in the pan you fried them in.  Just put the lid on the pan and bake at 350 degrees for ½ hour to 45 minutes (depends on thickness of chops). Remove the lid in the last ten minutes or so.
  9. If you’re making more than 3 or 4 chops, you can put them all on a jelly roll pan and cover it with foil so they can all bake at once.  That’s what I did tonight.

pork chops cooking 4-12-14

These are tender and juicy, never dry or tough, and they have fantastic flavor. My mom always served them with corn on the cob and some kind of noodles or macaroni and cheese. A great comfort food dinner!

BONUS: How to make perfect corn on the cob every time!

  • Clean the ears and cut off the ends.
  • Heat water to boiling in a pot large enough to hold however much corn you’re making.
  • Add about ¼ cup milk and 1 tsp sugar for every quart of water. DO NOT ADD SALT.
  • Put the corn in the boiling water. Cover and turn off the heat.
  • In 15-20 minutes you will have perfect corn.