Pork Chops were a once-a-week supper staple at home when I was little. Even then, pork was pretty cheap compared to Beef. But I remember it as being a tough, dry experience most of the time. Here’s how to cook Pork Chops the right way, for tender, juicy results…
Mom always – with the best of intentions, mind you – cooked pork chops fast, at high heat, in a frying pan, on top of the stove. Knowing what I know now, I am sad to admit, she couldn’t have done such a lovely cut of meat a greater disservice.
There is a ‘right’ way to cook pork chops so they come put juicy, tender and nicely browned on top. But it doesn’t share any particulars with Mom’s technique…
Choose thicker chops
Most pre-packaged supermarket meat-case pork chops are relatively thin. Thin chops will always turn out tougher and drier than thick ones, no matter how you cook them.
Maybe pay a little more, but always choose chops that are at least 3/4 in. / 2 cm thick.
Low and slow
We all know that you have to cook meats low and slow to make sure they turn out tender and juicy and flavourful. But I think most if us associate ‘low and slow’ with stews. We’ll, I’m here to tell you, it’s true across the board.
For the absolute best results, bake your chops gently in the oven at 350 F for 25 to 30 minutes. The thicker the chops, the longer it will take. Use a meat thermometer to confirm that the interior temperature of the thickest part of the chop is at least 145 F.
Let them rest
We often mention resting meat cuts after they’re finished cooking to ensure they are at their most succulent when they reach the table. The principle also applies to steaks and chops. So rest your low and slow baked shops at least 3 minutes, under a foil tent, to allow the meat fibres to relax and optimize the tenderness of the cut.
Think about Pork Schnitzel
If you have to settle for thinner chops, consider taking the meat hammer to them, and making pork Schnitzels. Pounding them both makes them thinner so they’ll cook faster, and helps loosen up the fibres of the meat for a more tender bite. You’ll be pan-frying them for just a couple of minutes per side.
True, you have to bread the Schnitzels. But that’s a small investment to make for the kudos your family with shower upon you!
The bottom line
We’re al looking for ways to save money on food these days. For those of us who aren’t bound by cultural or religious taboos on Pork, it’s a great way to make your food bucks go farther and still put meat on the table.
I just looked in at the online store of my go-to grocer… Pork Chops are selling today at between $4.75 and $5.75 per lb. / $10.45 and $12.65 per kilo. – depending on whether you want them bone-in, bone-out or centre-cut.
Beef, on the other hand, is a whole lot more expensive! Ground Beef is $9.25 per lb. / $20.35 per kilo. Stew Beef is $10 per lb. / $22.00 per kilo. Sirloin Steak is $18.50 per lb. / $40.70 per kilo!
And remember – Baked Pork Chops need not define the extent of your pork menu. Think of all the Asian and Hispanic dishes you can try, starting with a package of plain old pork chops! Let me kick-start your imagination with… Pork Fried Rice and Pulled Pork (see photo, top of page)!
~ Maggie J.