Cooking pork chops yields some amazing results every time, thanks to how delicious they are, right? It’s no wonder that it’s the most popular cut of meat, according to The National Pork Board. It definitely deserves a spot in your meal plan, especially since it’s so versatile and can be prepared in many wonderful ways.
It doesn’t matter if you’re new to this or a pork chop lover. There’s never too much to know about these. And here is a bit of cooking pork chops knowledge for you, from the supermarket to your plate!
The ABC’s of pork chops
A pork chop is a cut taken perpendicularly to the spine of the pig and it usually contains a rib or part of a vertebra. You can use them boneless or bone-in. The thickness of the meat is usually between half an inch and two inches. There’s a variety of pork chops with a variety of names, like rib chop, loin chop, Iowa chop, blade chop and so on, which basically tells you where the cut was made along the spine. Some cuts are leaner, while others contain more fat. But what brings them together is their great flavor.
What’s more important and of the good news variety is that they cook pretty easily and quickly. And you can prepare them in a myriad of ways: in the oven or the skillet, as an integral part of a casserole or with breading or sauces.
Before cooking pork chops…
…You have to buy them, right? As I’ve already said, ‘pork chop’ is a general name for a lot of different cuts. The most common are rib and loin chops, the latter being the most popular by far. And the tastiest. So look for that at your butcher’s or local supermarket. It’s a premium cut, so it’s a bit more expensive than other cuts.
When you buy them, make sure they have a pink color and a bit of fat, because fat always translates as “more flavor”. Stay away from pale colored cuts or ones with dark spots on the fat. Fresh pork chops will keep for two-three days in the refrigerator. If you don’t have time to cook them, best keep them in the freezer – then you have six months to decide what to do with them.
After removing them from the freezer, thaw the pork chops overnight before cooking with them. And even so, after you take them out of the refrigerator, wait a good half hour until they get to room temperature.
Size matters when cooking
Whatever you decide to cook with your wonderful pork chops, take into account the thickness of the cut. The thicker it is, the longer it will take to cook. The thinnest chops, about half an inch thick, will cook much faster than the two-inch thick ones.
If you’re going to cook them in the pan, make sure to really turn up the heat before adding the chops! Also, the pork chops should have as little humidity as possible, if you want to get a great sear going. Even if you’re cooking them in the oven, first introduce them to the pan, for the best results.
The best way to know if they’re done or not is to measure the internal temperature. When it reaches 145 degrees F/62 degrees C on the inside, then it’s perfectly tender and juicy.
For the best results when cooking pork, marinate your chops and learn the basics of marinade!