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How to Cook Tender and Juicy Pork Chops

How to Cook Tender and Juicy Pork Chops

Pork chops are one of the easiest proteins to prepare for a simple weeknight meal. The chop is cut from the spine of the pig and contains part of the rib meat and often the bone. They are a lean cut of meat, but bone-in pork chops are very flavorful and tender. Many people tend to overcook pork, because of the risk of contamination from the Trichinella virus, but improvements in farming methods and processing procedures means that the risk of contamination has virtually been eliminated. You can cook pork cuts including pork chops and pork loin at a lower temperature, and you will still get a flavorful and juicy pork, without risk of illness. With that in mind, try to purchase pork labeled USDA “natural” or “organic” if at all possible.

Pork chops can be cooked a variety of ways: in an oven, on a cast iron skillet, or over the grill. Baked pork chops are great when served simply with olive oil, salt, and black pepper. Pork chops are also a great vehicle for experimenting with bolder spices and interesting cooking techniques.

Pork chops can be marinated beforehand, or cooked straight from the package. Vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, broccoli, or spinach make great accompaniments and can cook alongside the pork chops, often in the same pan. Cooking time for the best pork chops varies depending on the thickness of the cut, but they should be cooked to an internal temperature of between 140 and 145 degrees Fahrenheit. Pork chops can be found in most grocery stores in the pre-packaged meat aisle, but if you want more control over quality and thickness, go straight to the deli counter to get your pork chops.

Whether you’re grilling, roasting, baking, or frying, the following pork chop recipes provide the foundation for cooking the most perfectly tender and juicy chops, perfect for easy weeknight dinners or as the centerpiece of a bigger feast.

Simple Oven Roasted Pork Chops

Serves: 4
Prep time: 10 minutes, plus marinating time
Cook time: 15 minutes

Equipment

1 pot
1 mixing bowl or resealable plastic bag
1 cast iron skillet
Tongs
Aluminum foil

Ingredients

3 cups water
3 tbsp. salt
1 clove garlic
1/2 tsp. black pepper cloves
2 sprigs rosemary
4 center cut bone-in pork chops
1 tbsp. olive oil

Bring 1 cup water to boil. Once boiling, stir in salt, garlic, pepper cloves, and rosemary. Stir to combine until the salt is dissolved. Take off heat and add the remaining 2 cups of water, cold.

Pour the brine mixture over the pork chops, either in a bowl or plastic resealable bag. Let the pork chops marinate in the refrigerator from at least one hour, up to one day.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Heat a heavy cast iron skillet in the oven while preparing pork chops.

Remove pork chops from the brine and pat dry with a paper towel. Rub the pork chops with olive oil, salt, and ground black pepper.

Carefully remove the skillet from the oven (be sure to use oven mitts!) and sear one side of the pork chops for about three minutes. Turn pork chops over with tongs and transfer the skillet back into the oven. Cook for about 6-10 minutes until the internal temperature registers between 140–145 degrees, using a meat thermometer to check. The cooking time will depend on the thickness of the meat, so begin checking at seven minutes.

Once the pork chops have cooked, take them out of the oven and let rest on a plate or cutting board for five minutes. A loosely placed piece of aluminum foil will help ensure the pork chops remain juicy and tender. Serve with mashed potatoes or green beans.

Oven Roasted Brown Sugar Pork Chops With Carrots and Potatoes

Serves: 4
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes

Equipment

1 mixing bowl
2 13-inch baking sheets
1 cutting board

Ingredients

1 lb. potatoes (like yukon gold, red skin, or fingerling), cut into about 1-inch pieces
1 lb. carrots, cut into about 1-inch rounds or quartered lengthwise
3 tbsp. olive oil
4 bone in pork chops, patted dry with a paper towel and brought to room temperature
2 tbsp. garlic, minced
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Place potatoes and carrots into a bowl. Cover with one tablespoon olive oil, and season with about half the salt and pepper. Mix with your hands. Transfer the potatoes and carrots onto a baking sheet.

Place the pork chops in the same bowl that you used for the potatoes and carrots. Cover the pork chops with remaining olive oil, garlic, brown sugar, and remaining salt and pepper. Mix, using your hands to ensure that the brown sugar and garlic coat the pork chops. Add the pork chops to the baking sheet, and drizzle any remaining sauce from the bowl on top.

Cook the pork chops uncovered in the oven for about 30-35 minutes, turning only once halfway through the cooking time. Turn the carrots and potatoes as needed. Check that the internal temperature of the pork chops is between 140–145 degrees.

Once the pork chops are cooked, remove from oven. Place pork chops on a cutting board, letting them rest for about five minutes. A piece of aluminum foil placed loosely on top will help ensure the pork chops remain juicy and tender.

Serve the pork chops either whole or sliced, accompanied by the potatoes and carrots.

GOLDEN-BROWN CAST-IRON SKILLET PORK CHOPS

Serves: 2 to 4
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes

Equipment
1 cast iron skillet
1 cutting board
Aluminum foil

Ingredients

1 tbps. vegetable or safflower Oil
2–4 bone-in pork chops
1 tbsp. kosher salt (or more to taste)
1 tsp. grounded black pepper (or more to taste)
1 tbsp. unsalted butter
8-12 sprigs sage
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed

Season pork chops liberally with salt and black pepper, rubbing with your hands to ensure complete coverage.

Place a skillet over medium heat and add the oil. Heat to medium-high.

Cook one side of the pork chops in the cast iron skillet for one minute. Turn the pork chops and cook the other side for one minute. Repeat this process every minute for about 8 to 10 minutes, or until the internal temperature reads 135 degrees Fahrenheit.

Take the cast iron skilled off the heat, and add the butter, sage, and garlic. As the butter begins to foam, tilt the pan and spoon the butter mixture over the pork chops, ensuring that the entire chop is basted.

Remove the pork chops from the pan and let rest for about five minutes. A loosely-placed piece of aluminum foil will help ensure the pork chops remain juicy and tender.

Serve the pork chops either whole or sliced, with a bit of the butter mixture spooned over the top.

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