Pork chop is a general term for several cuts of pork. The loin chop is one of the most common. It has a “T” shaped bone similar to a beef t bone steak. The center cut chop is boneless, and as the name implies, is from the center of the loin.
The sirloin chop is from the rear of the pig, near the hip, and usually has part of the hip bone attached. Rib chops are from the center of the loin where the rib meets the loin, and generally has some rib bone and some back bone.
My favorite is the blade chop. They are usually a bit thicker and have more marbling. Marbling is the lines of fat that run through the meat. Good pork, and beef for that matter, should have some marbling as the fat helps the meat retain flavor and keeps it moist.
Consider whether or not you want a leaner or fattier cut, bone in or out, and how thick you want your cut when buying chops. Also, when buying pork, you want to look for a nice pale pink color, and white fat. If the chop has a brownish color or yellow fat that could be signs of improper handling or just plain old meat.
Pork is one of those meats some people are afraid of. People have a fear of trichinosis, usually causing them to over cook pork to the point of jerky. I personally have no problem eating medium rare pork, but I can see why people don’t.
One solution is to brine your pork before cooking. Brining helps keep the pork moist and adds flavor. It’s very simple to do and only adds a few minutes to overall prep time.
A basic rule of thumb for brine is 1 tablespoon of salt to 1 cup of water. Any less salt won’t hurt, but any more than that and your brine can become overly salty. Remember, the brine should completely cover the chops for full affect. Here is a basic recipe.
Pork Brine Recipe
- 2cups water
- 4 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon whole peppercorn
- 4 cloves
- 1 lemon
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 sprig rosemary
- 1 sprig thyme
- 2 cups ice water
Bring all the ingredients to a boil, except the ice water. Stir to incorporate the salt, it needs to be fully dissolved. Remove from heat, add ice water and stir well.
Place chops in a large enough container that they will be submerged. Add brine and top with a plate to weigh the chops down. Cover and refrigerate for 12-24 hours. You can brine for less time, but not for more or the chops will become too salty.
Now to the meat (pun intended) of the matter, how to cook them so that they taste great and look great. Pork can be grilled, sautéed, pan fried, or roasted. I prefer to pan fry, it gives great color and flavor, while maintaining moisture.
Keep in mind that cooking time will depend on the thickness of the cut. I recommend using a meat thermometer to determine doneness. An internal temp of 145 degrees is done for pork, but if you cook bone in chops, you may need to get it up to 150 degrees near the bone or they may still be a bit pink.
Pan Fried Pork Chops
Remove chops from brine and pat dry with paper towel. Heat a skillet or sauté pan to medium high heat. Add a small amount of cooking oil, just enough to coat the bottom of the pan.
Place chops in hot pan, pressing down firmly to ensure all parts make contact with the pan. Reduce heat to medium. We do this to ensure good color on the presentation side, but reduce the heat so as not to over cook.
It takes about ten minutes total for a 1 inch cut, so depending on thickness, cook for about 4-6 minutes per side. A lid over the pan can help retain moisture and decrease cooking time.
After your thermometer reads 145, remove the chops from heat and allow to rest for 3 minutes.