Pork chops: they’re pretty much the filet mignon of “the other white meat” world—and we’re not afraid to say that we may just love them even more than top-shelf steak. And that’s saying a lot!
At the same time, we’ve noticed that many people aren’t cooking pork chops like they used to, and we think it has something to do with the fact that they are notoriously easy to mess up. (If you don’t know what we’re talking about, you’ve clearly never TRIED to make them in the first place!)
Because we think you should never settle for dry, chewy, tasteless chops, we compiled a list of 7 foolproof steps you should take before, during, and after cooking your pork chops. To access full tutorials—and plenty of yummy recipes—be sure to follow the links below!
1. Get to know your chops
First things first: you need to know exactly what you are purchasing before you start cooking! There are actually five different cuts of pork chops—the shoulder chop, the rib chop, the loin chop, the boneless chop, and the sirloin chop. Traditionally, the center-cut loin is known to be the most tender, so when in doubt, ask for this cut by name.
2. Pay attention to color and thickness
Butchers and meat-lovers alike will tell you that the thicker the pork chop cut, the better. It may require a bit of extra cooking time, but the juicier meat is well worth the wait. Along with the thickness, be sure to take a close look at the color of the pork—the best pieces will be marbleized and pink.
3. Opt for a brine
Sure, a marinade makes pork taste great, but it won’t stop it from drying out when faced with heat. For this reason, we always choose to brine our pork chops for at least 8 hours before cooking. Not only will it infuse moisture into the meat, it will also give it a kick of earthy flavor. Yum!
4. Break out your slow cooker
For succulent chops like you’ve never tasted before, roast them up in your slow cooker. This culinary gadget works particularly well for pork because it provides consistent heat, without scorching the meat.
5. Don’t be afraid to brown
If you didn’t prepare far enough in advance to use your slow cooker, you can always brown the pork chops on the stove. While it’s a method that can easily be flubbed if the pan gets too hot, we guarantee you will get mouth-watering results if you use butter (and only butter!) while browning.
6. Know when to take them off the heat
For safe consumption, pork needs to be cooked until it reaches a minimum of 145-degrees—but that doesn’t mean you need to keep it on the heat for that long. Instead, wait until the thermometer hits 135-degrees, then take the meat away from the heat and monitor until it reaches 145. This step will ensure that your pork is both safe to eat and NEVER tough.
7. Give the pork a rest
Now it’s time to make sure that all of that hard work doesn’t go to waste. After taking the pork chops off the heat, wait about 10 minutes before serving—or else the juices will be lost along with the temperature. Good to know!
We bet you’re ready to start cooking up some delicious pork chops! How do you make pork chops? What is your favorite pork recipe? Do you prefer using the stove, oven, or slow cooker?