Pork chops tend to get a bad rep. They’re often described as dry, flavorless hunks of meat. Well, we’re here to set the record straight! The truth is, with just a few easy tips, you can cook tender, tasty pork chops that will have your family and friends raving.
It’s really easy to end up with bland, dry chops. However, once you learn about the different cuts of pork and the small window of time between perfectly cooked and overdone, you’ll be serving up the best pork chops in town.
Believe it or not, there are multiple cuts of pork chops, all of which come from the loin section. These include rib, shoulder, loin, and sirloin chops.
Rib chops (also called center-cut rib chops) are mildly-flavored, very tender, and attached to baby back rib bones. Shoulder chops are loaded with flavor and contain bone and a decent amount of gristle. For ultimate tenderness, shoulder chops are best when braised.
Loin chops are very mild in pork flavor. They’re also very lean, making them difficult to not overcook. Finally, the lean (yet flavorful) sirloin chop tends to be tough and usually needs a brine before cooking. Low and slow works best for these.
When selecting the finest meats, we always recommend visiting your local butcher and asking for thick, bone-in chops with some marbling (visible streaks of fat) present.
The bone helps conduct heat during the cooking process, while the marbling adds extra flavor and naturally tenderizes the meat.
Now it’s time to make those chops! Follow these steps:
- Season or marinate: If you’ve got the time, make a marinade of oil, vinegar, lemon juice, herbs, and garlic. The acid from the lemon and vinegar will break down the protein, tenderize the meat, and ensure a juicy, tender chop, while also adding tremendous flavor. Marinate the pork for at least four hours, but no more than 12. No time to marinate? Just add some fresh cracked pepper and sea salt before searing and again after the warm-up. Later, you’ll add more flavor with butter, garlic, and fresh herbs.
- Do a quick warm-up: We always recommend doing this after marinating, but before cooking any beef or pork, as it ensures the meat cooks evenly. The key, especially with pork chops, is to retain moisture during the cooking process, and a quick warm-up with certainly help with that.
- Clip the rind: After you’ve warmed up the chop, it’s time to cut through the rind and ensure they don’t bubble up, but stay flat in the hot pan. Gordon Ramsay uses this trick.
- Sear it up: Again, chops are notoriously overcooked, but a quick sear and plenty of rest time should help create a moist, tender dinner. Bring your pan to high heat, add a bit of olive oil, and then add your marinated (or seasoned) chops to the pan.
- Add aromatics: A few cloves of garlic, roughly chopped shallots, and fresh herbs add depth of flavor. Prepare and add your choice of aromatics (we’re using garlic and thyme) to the pan, and then flip after about two minutes of searing.
- Butter baste the chops: As your chops sizzle, add about one tablespoon of butter per chop to your pan. Once the butter has melted, slightly (and carefully) tilt your pan and use a spoon to baste your chops with butter repeatedly. Flip and continue basting. The butter will begin to brown and create an incredible aroma and add quality flavor.
- Check the temperature: After you’ve cooked the chops for a few minutes on each side, and both are nicely seared, use an instant-read kitchen thermometer to check the temp. The USDA recommends cooking pork products to a minimum internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Remove from pan and let rest: After your chops reach about 140 degrees Fahrenheit, remove them from the pan, plate them, and let them rest for at least five minutes. This step is important because the meat’s temperature will continue to rise while all those tasty juices redistribute.
Now, all that’s left to do is enjoy your tender, juicy pork chops and accept all the compliments that are sure to come your way!
Later, dry, bland pork chops! Give this method a shot and enjoy the glory of a truly juicy pork dinner. You can serve up these tasty chops with a side of cinnamon apples, baked potatoes, or any of your fave veggies.