Pork chops always seem to present a challenge for home grillers. How to get them cooked through, yet stay nice and juicy? Here are a few tips to keep your chops from turning out dry, tough and flavorless.
Don’t buy thin-cut chops! Pork chops should be about 1-inch thick. Any thinner than that and they are cooked through before you can get grill marks.
Buy chops that have the bone still attached – loin chops and rib chops are a griller’s best friend. The bone not only adds flavor, but it also helps to keep the chop nice and juicy. The loin chop has a T-shaped bone and has the same benefits as a T-bone steak – a nice piece of pork loin with the bonus of some juicy tenderloin.
Grill with two zones. No one says that chops need to be cooked over high heat start-to-finish. Sear them over direct high heat and then move them to the medium heat to finish cooking.
Use a meat thermometer! I promise, no one will pop up and call you a sissy cheater. Invest in a good instant read thermometer. Cook the chops to an internal temperature of 140°F for medium (medium is 145°F; the temperature will rise another 5°F with carryover heat).
Rest the chops after cooking. Resting the meat allows the juice to redistribute back into the meat after the shock of being subject to hot temperature.
Try a dry brine. When meat is salted the moisture is initially brought to the surface through a process called osmosis. A “brine” of sorts is created with the juices from the meat and the dissolved salt. The salt begins to break down muscle protein making the meat able to retain more moisture pulling the juices, salt and flavoring back into the meat. A bonus to dry brining over wet brines is that the meat is much more easily seared giving that wonderful char flavor.
- Four 1-inch thick pork chops
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
- 2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper
- Grated zest from 1 lemon
- Olive, oil for grilling
- Sprinkle both sides of the pork chops with salt; use all of the salt. Toss together the chopped garlic, thyme, pepper and lemon zest. Sprinkle half of the mixture in the bottom of a plate or baking dish just large enough to hold the chops. Lay chops on top and then sprinkle with the remaining garlic mixture. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and cure in the refrigerator overnight.
- Remove chops from refrigerator 1 hour before grilling. Preheat grill for direct heat grilling with two zones: high heat and medium heat. Brush and oil the grates before cooking.
- Drizzle chops with a little olive oil and place chops on the high heat side for two minutes to sear the meat, flip and sear the other side for two minutes. Move chops to the medium heat; rotate 90 degrees for crosshatch marks. Cook for another 3 to 4 minutes per side or until the internal temperature reaches 140°F for medium (medium is 145°F; the temperature will rise another 5°F with carryover heat). Allow the chops to rest 5 to 10 minutes before serving.
Cheers and Happy Grilling!