Revitalize your pork chop game with this outstanding recipe for Milanese Pork with Tomato-Balsamic Sauce! It's crispy, juicy, and packed with flavor. The extra sauce is great for dipping mozzarella sticks, topping pizza, and even tossing with pasta.
To brine the chops: Combine the water, sugar, salt, and orange zest in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring often to dissolve the sugar and salt. Transfer to a medium heatproof bowl, and stir in the ice water–the brine must be very cold.
Meanwhile, one at a time, place a pork chop between two sheets of plastic wrap. Pound the chop with the flat side of a meat pounder until it is about ⅓-inch thick. Put the pork in a 1-gallon zippered plastic bag and pour in the brine. Seal the bag tightly, place in a bowl, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 2 hours, no longer.
Meanwhile, make the sauce: Heat the oil and garlic together in a medium saucepan over medium heat until the garlic is toasted to golden brown, about 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove and discard the garlic. Stir the hot pepper flakes into the oil. Stir in the tomatoes with their juices and the lemon zest. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly reduced, about 1 hour. During the last few minutes stir in the basil, oregano, balsamic vinegar, and sugar. Season to taste with salt as needed. The sauce can be cooled, covered, and refrigerated for up to 3 days. Reheat before serving.
To coat the pork chops: Remove the pork from the marinade and pat it dry with paper towels. Spread the flour in a wide shallow bowl. Beat the eggs, salt, and pepper together in a second shallow bowl. Mix the breadcrumbs, panko, parsley, lemon zest, and hot pepper flakes in a third bowl. One at a time, coat the pork in the flour, shaking off the excess, then dip on both sides in the egg mixture and coat evenly with the panko mixture, patting it in gently to adhere. Transfer to a platter. Let the pork stand for about 10 minutes to set the coating.
To cook: Line a large baking sheet with paper towels. Pour enough oil into a very large preferably non-stick skillet to come ¼-inch (I used less) up the sides and heat over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the pork to the oil and cook, adjusting the heat so the pork bubbles steadily in the oil without browning too quickly, until the underside is golden brown, about 3 minutes. Turn the pork over and brown the other side, about 3 minutes more. Transfer to the paper towels and drain briefly. Cut each pork chop crosswise into ½-inch strips (or serve them whole as I did). Transfer to a platter and serve immediately, with the tomato sauce on the side.
There is a misconception that pork needs to be super well-done in order to be safe to eat. This simply isn't true. Pork is technically safe to eat at an internal temperature of 145°F.
You will likely still have extra sauce even with 4 servings of Milanese pork. The leftover sauce would work well on pizza and even pasta. You can also use it as a dipping sauce for mozzarella sticks or my chicken parmesan dumplings! My sauce was reminiscent of a silky marinara, smoother than if I had used canned plum tomatoes, but either texture is fine depending on your preference.
This recipe uses kosher salt (aka cooking salt, kitchen salt, coarse salt outside of the US). If you are using table salt, definitely scale down the salt as that is a saltier type of salt! The type of salt will make a big difference in how salty your food tastes, so keep that in mind.