Grilled pork chops can dry quickly, but with these simple tips, you can cook grilled chops. Grill the right cut, use a marinade or brine and grill to 145°F.
This dish was written for SABER Grills by Chef Chris Koetke of Let’s Dish.
The perfect grilled pork chop is juicy, meaty, thick, perfectly seared and flavorful. Can’t you taste it now?
Unfortunately, getting perfectly grilled pork chops is not easy. Most pork chops on the market are very lean, which is the result of the “other white meat” campaign. While low fat equals lower calorie, low fat also can translate into dry and lacking flavor.
Think of prime steaks for example. What you are paying for is the intramuscular flecks of fat called marbling. Unless you are able to source meat from a heritage hog that was raised with flavor in mind, there will be virtually no marbling in a pork chop.
But, with these tips, you can get a juicy, flavorful pork chop right off your grill without having to source a heritage hog.
So given this reality, there are some strategies to still produce perfectly grilled pork chops.
The first is the final cooking temperature. In the recent past, pork was cooked to 165°F or higher, which resulted with a plate of cardboard. The newest recommendation is for a final cooked temperature of 145°F. The meat must be held at this temperature for 3 minutes.
What a revelation–juicy pork with a hint of rosy in the middle of the chop! So, if you don’t have a good instant read thermometer, invest in one.
The final internal temperature of the pork chop leads us to consider the thickness of the chop and how the Saber® grill can expertly address these different thicknesses.
My first piece of advice is not to buy really thin pork chops. While the Saber has the heat intensity to give some char marks before the pork is overcooked, it is still hard to do. Cooking thin pork chops on other less heat intense grills is basically completely impossible.
So, choose pork chops that are a good 1-inch or more thick. Give them all the heat that the Saber can throw at them. The result is that they will reach 145°F internally and have restaurant quality char marks and intense caramelization on the outside.
At the same time, if you cook the grand-daddy of pork chops—the double boned chop—a slightly different cooking technique is needed. First brown all the sides of the chop on high heat. Let the Saber develop those dark, rich flavors! Then, use the Saber’s precise heat controls and lower the grill temperature to let the inside of the double chop reach 145°F without charring the outside too much. The result can be simply extraordinary.
One other consideration is bone-in or bone-out. America has fallen in love with all things boneless as it is rather effortless to eat. But while this may be true, a bone-in pork chop is always my preference. The reason is that the bone contributes flavor, helps the meat remain more tender and helps retain moisture. And, what is wrong with chewing on a bone after the meat is all craved away? It is kind of fun in a hedonistic way.
As mentioned earlier, as pork chops have become leaner, they have also lost some of their natural flavor. To compensate, marinade or brine pork chops to bump up their flavor.
When marinating the chops, use an oil-based marinade. Add flavorful ingredients like garlic, onions, chilies, herbs and spices to olive oil. Coat the chops well and place them in the refrigerator for 12-24 hours.
TIP: Do not add any acidic ingredients to the marinade. The acidic ingredients tenderize protein and can dry out the meat.
Brining pork chops is another option to add flavor and keep the chops moist. Brines are basically mixtures of water, salt, sugar and flavorings. Brining pork chops only takes a few hours.
TIP: You must leave the pork chops in the brine in the refrigerator.
While today’s pork does pose some challenges to a great cooked product, following these steps and using a superior grill like the Saber can indeed give you some memorable results!