I’m developing a pattern. When my friends invite me over, I usually bring a homemade pie. When I’m bored, I usually make semi-successful attempts at candy. And when I have someone over for dinner (or have had a really bad day), I make pork chops. And not just any pork chops, but the most delectable, panko-rolled, pan-seared, oven-baked pork chops you can imagine!

I first stumbled upon this recipe when I was home visiting my family last winter. It was brutally cold, just weeks away from the infamous Snowmageddon of the Mid-Atlantic. I was puttering around the house, trying to distract myself from what a bad day/week/month I was having, so I decided to make my mom and siblings a fantastic, soul-warming dinner. I headed over to the local Safeway and $30 later, I was ready.

It was such a success that I’ve made this exact same dinner three more times since then and it’s always greeted with smiles and food comas.

First you preheat the oven to 425 and then just set up a standard breading station for your chops; Flour on a plate, a couple of eggs and 2 tsp of lemon juice in a bowl, and panko bread crumbs, fresh chopped sage, parmesan and a tsp of lemon zest in another bowl.

Then you get to dippin’… First in the flour, then the eggs, then the bread crumbs.

Then you just brown them lightly in a little oil or unsalted butter. I recommend the butter (of course, ha!), because in my experience, the chops soak up the oil a lot more and have a greater chance of getting greasy. Stick with the butter. This should only take a couple of minutes per side – you’re not trying to cook them the whole way through at this point, just searing the outside so it gets crispy!

Then pop those bad boys into the oven. My chops were super thick (1-1.5 inches), so I baked them for 20 minutes. Thinner chops will obvs take less time! The last time I made these, I put them directly on a baking sheet, but they stay crispier in the oven if you bake them on a rack set over the baking sheet – keeps the oil/grease separated from the delicious.

While the chops are doing their thing in the oven, prepare the side… for me, it’s practically always polenta with a mushroom ragout! First, brown the shrooms… in butter.

Then add some spices. I like to use sea salt and cracked black pepper and fresh thyme.

Then deglaze the pan with a cup of dry red wine and reduce the amount of liquid by half. Repeat the process with a cup of beef broth (this is sooo good, makes the mushrooms taste like meat!).

After the sauce has reduced, the mushrooms should be covered in a delightfully thickish juice. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in a tbsp or so of butter to make the sauce even more velvety!

Keep the mushrooms warm while you make the polenta, which is crazy quick and easy!

Add however much polenta you’re going to need in a steady stream to boiling water. Whisk away until it starts to thicken. Then turn the heat down to a simmer and add a bit of pepper, stirring occasionally. Once the polenta gets to the right consistency, remove it from the heat and add butter & parmesan. Mix it up good and keep it warm.

By this point, the chops should be done and you can dish it all up and enjoy!

Mmm, sage-encrusted pork chops & polenta w/ mushroom ragout!

Recipe adapted from Merlin Menu, Alosha’s Kitchen, and Christine Cooks