10 Steps for the Perfect Pork Chop
There are a lot of ways to cook pork chops, and unfortunately I can’t cover them in all here. However, I can show one of my absolute favorites, and the one that I think every home cook needs to know – Pan Roasting. A pan roasted pork chop (assuming you use the right techniques) has a great sear on the outside which creates little caramelized bit and pieces that have a ton of flavor. At the same time, the center of the pork chop is just cooked through, and remains both tender and juicy. And, with a pan roasted pork chop, you get the side benefit of pan drippings with which you can make a killer sauce. Check out my 10 steps below and on the video, and hope you next pork chop turns out absolutely perfect.
How to Cook a Pork Chop – Pan Roasting In the OvenPork Chop Prep
- Buy the right Pork Chop Before you even start cooking, you need to make sure your starting with the right meat. Buy a nice, thick pork chop. At least 1 inch thick, 2 or more is even better. Thin chops are easy to dry out and overcook…and generally more trouble than they are worth
- Brine & Season the Pork Chop Brining adds a ton of flavor and moisture to the chop, and lessens the risk of drying out the chop while you cook it. It’s easy to do, and if you have the time, I recommend it. But don’t stop at brining. You still need to season the pork chop with salt & pepper. You can use other spices as well, but those are a must.
- Bring the Pork Chop to Room Temperature Like most meats, it’s best to start cooking the pork chop when it’s at room temperature. If you take it right out of fridge, while it’s still cold, you can end up with a raw center.
- High Heat is Good Heat There are cuts of pork (like shoulder that you cook long & at low temp. Pork chops, are not one. Use high heat in the oven and on the stove top so you can get a good sear, and quickly cook the pork chop through, before it has time to dry out.
- Sear the Chop on the Stove Top Start cooking the pork chop in a pan, on top of the stove. Even a very hot oven, won’t sear the outside of the chop, before the inside is cooked. So you need to get a pan good and hot, and then lay the pork down, searing one side then the other. As the pork shop sears, don’t fiddle with it, or keep checking it. Just let it cook for 3 – 4 minutes, until it’s nicely browned. Flip and repeat.
- Sear the sides If your pork chop is very thick, you may also want to sear the side of the chop and render out some of the fat there. That makes it nice and tasty, and it's the same technique I use for baking pork tenderloin.
- Move to the oven Depending on the thickness of the pork chop you can cook it anywhere from 50 – 90% on top of the stove, but you’ll probably need to spend some time in the oven to get it fully cooked. Thin, boneless pork chops will cook much faster than thick/bone-in chops; so be prepared to move quickly.
- Cook to Medium/Med-Well These days, it’s safe to cook pork to medium or medium well – an internal temperature of 140 degrees. The most accurate way to judge that is with a meat thermometer, but with practice, you’ll be able to tell simple by touching the pork chop. What you should never do, is cut into the meat to “look” at it. That causes the juices to run right out of the meat. Again depending on thickness it may be anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes to cook the chop. Note the bigger cooking mistake is overcooking – not undercooking
- Let the pork chop rest Right out of the oven, the juices are very active in the meat and if you cut into the pork chop they’ll flow right out. So let it rest outside the oven for 5 – 7 minutes before serving and cutting into it.
- Don’t let the drippings go to waste The brown bits on the pan when you’re threw cooking have a ton of flavor, don’t waste them. Pan sauces can get very complicated, but really all you need to do, is deglaze with a ¼ cup of wine. Add the same amount of chicken stock. Let it all reduce by 1/2, and then stir in a couple tablespoons of butter.
Once you've got the perfect pork chop down, learn How to Cook the Perfect Pork Tenderloin!
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