How to Cook Pork ChopsOne of the biggest problems that most people have with cooking pork chops is that they turn out dry, tough and flavorless. Overcooking is one of the main reasons for this, primarily because for many years the recommended way of preparing pork was to cook it well-done. This was due to food safety concerns, but today it's perfectly safe to cook pork medium, which means it's okay for it to have a slight rosy hue. (For more info, see How to Cook Pork.)
Another issue is that modern pork is much leaner than pork from years ago, and because it contains less fat, it's also less moist. This makes overcooking it even more problematic.
Finally, there's the issue of how thick the pork chops ought to be. If you've been eating pork chops that are like half an inch thick, it's going to be really difficult to prepare them so that they turn out moist and juicy.
The good news is that all of these problems can be easily avoided. What follows are a few simple guidelines for how to cook a perfect pork chop.
- The best pork chops are center-cut loin chops or center-cut rib chops that are one inch thick. Whether you go with a loin chop or a rib chop, you'll have better results with bone-in pork chops. Not only does the bone contribute flavor, it also helps the pork chop stay nice and juicy.
- Let the pork chops sit out for 20 minutes at room temperature before start to cook. You can preheat your oven to 400°F during this time.
- Dry the pork chop thoroughly with paper towels, then season generously with Kosher salt. It helps to kind of press the salt crystals into the meat so that they really grab on. The reason we dry the pork chops is to help them get a really nice brown sear on them. This is also the time to add freshly ground black pepper.
- Heat an oven-proof skillet on the stovetop along with a couple of teaspoons of high-heat vegetable oil. You just need enough oil to fully coat the entire surface of the pan. Get it smoking hot. It might take four or five minutes to get hot enough, but it really makes a difference.
- Add the pork chops to the smoking hot pan and let them sit there for a full three minutes, untouched.
- Then, flip the chops over and transfer the pan to the oven. Let the chops bake for 6 to 7 minutes. For the desired doneness, you should be able to press your thumb in the center of the chop and feel it spring back firmly against your thumb. If it feels mushy or jellylike, it's not done yet. Conversely, if it feels hard, you've overcooked it. The target temperature for removing the chops from the oven is about 140°F but ideally you wouldn't poke a hole in the chop with a thermometer to take its temperature as this will let the juices leak out.
- When the chops are done, remove the pan from the oven, transfer the chops to a plate and tent with foil for three or four minutes. The chops will hit 145°F while they rest. Serve with a simple pan sauce.