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Oct 5, 2003 07:16 PM

Why are my Pork Chops Always Dry ?

  • l

Ok, I'm new to the world of cooking pork chops, and it just seems like no matter what, they always come out kinda dry.

I've been browning them in a cast iron pan and then finishing them either in a 350 degree oven, or on the stove after adding a little wine + seasoning.

Perhaps I'm cooking them for too long? 4 mins per side, and then an additional 10-12. Or is there something else?

Any advice would be much appreciated.

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  1. j
    JK Grence (the Cosmic Jester)

    It does sound a bit like you're cooking them too long- you don't need to cook pork until it's well done anymore, and I think that a total 20 minutes of cooking would certainly be too much. Another thing you can do to improve the chops is to brine them in a mix of 3/4 cup Diamond Crystal kosher salt, 1/2 cup plus one tablespoon Morton kosher salt, or 6 tablespoons table salt; 6 tablespoons sugar; and 3 quarts of cold water for about an hour before you cook the chops. Once you're cooking them, sear for about 2 or 3 minutes on a side then put them in the oven for 7-9 minutes. Alternately, you can grill them (which is MUCH better) over a two-level fire, with the sear on the hot side and then slide them to the cool side and cover with a disposable aluminum roasting pan.

    4 Replies
    1. re: JK Grence (the Cosmic Jester)
      Professor Salt

      Agreed with the Jester that 20 minutes sounds too long for your typical pork chops, and assuming you're using very lean loin chops, there's a real short window for "baby bear" - i.e. not undercooked, not overcooked, but "just right."

      Depending on how thick the chops are, you might be able to use an instant read thermometer. Most precut supermarket chops are not thick enough to use a thermometer sucessfully, but an extra-meaty 2 inch thick chop would work ok. Anyway, I cook pork loin to 140-145 F, and rest them for 5 minuts before serving. It will be slightly rosy in the middle if taken off at 140, and very juicy.

      In lieu of a thermometer, buy an extra chop to use as a tester, and cut into it to check for doneness.

      Definitely try brining. You won't be disappointed.

      1. re: Professor Salt

        Amen to the overcooking.
        You are cooking them way to long.
        I think pork roast and pork chops need to be treated differently when it comes to cooking--mainly because of the fat content already discussed.
        I marinate my chops for 1/2 - 1 hour (I always add vinegar to my marinate sauce)and then I cook them in high heat 1 minute each side and then 2 more minutes per side in somewhat lower heat. They are always nice and juice this way.
        I learnt to cook them like this following the method from the Minute Gourmet and it always works for me.

        Good luck.

      2. re: JK Grence (the Cosmic Jester)

        Brining is the ticket. I just did a pork roast last night. 1/2 cup kosher salt, 1/2 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons peppercorns, 3 cloves of garlic (smashed), and some bruised fresh sage leaves. I then soaked the roast for over 24 hours in the 'fridge.

        The roast was tender; the flavors were gently infused.

        Brining the chops should produce similar results. You may wish to experiment with the ratio of salt/sugar to water. You don't want the meat to be too salty. Too much sugar may cause the meat to burn, if it is cooked at a high temperature.

        1. re: JK Grence (the Cosmic Jester)

          Ditto on the brining -- it helps a LOT.

          Never buy a pork chop without the bone attached. This robs the meat of the protection of the bone while cooking, plus the added fat in the nooks and crannies of the chop bone.

          I only buy thick 1-1 1/2 inch "baking" pork chops -- never the thin kind, and I use an old Westinhouse Cookbook method (after the brining)

          Bring the chops to room temperature.

          Heat a cast iron (best is cast iron, but any heavy skillet will do) over lowest heat for 5 minutes.

          Put no fat in the pan. Cook chops over lowest heat for 12-17 minutes per side (about 12 for a 1 inch thick chop, up to 17 minutes maxiumum). Around 10 minutes on each side I start peeking with a paring knife.

          When I feel like it's about 1 to 1 1/2 minutes away from done (with only some very light pink near the bone) I pull the pan off the heat and let it sit on a cold burner for about 5 minutes while I pull together the applesauce and corn bread for serving.

          Perfect pork chops :)

        2. I think all pork chops are produced leaner by design; to combat "high fat" bad publicity. Starting with
          an overly lean chop is a handicap hard to overcome.

          1 Reply
          1. re: ken

            I've seen a program on pork production and learned that pork produced for export to Japan has higher fat content (tastier, juicier), as preferred by the Japanese market.

            Wonder if we could get some of this pork domestically.

          2. k
            k. gerstenberger

            Chops can be problematic. Taking a chop out of the refrigerator, seasoning, and cooking immediately might be part of the problem. Allowing the meat to lose its chill for 20 - 30 minutes before cooking might help, and is a good technique for starters. Cooking by the timer is a crutch you should try to learn to do without, because pan heat, chop thickness, pan crowding, fat content can all effect timing (hair splitting detail, yes). Don't try to learn to cook by feel when you're cooking to impress. Save the trial and error for yourself or the famiy. Start touching the meat and getting a sense of its doneness by how it feels. Between flacid and firm is the perfect chop. An underdone chop can be returned to the pan for a little extra heat, and overdone chop requires more wine or beer. If all else fails try thinking like a pork chop, and ask yourself when you're done....

            1. Don't use any pork chops that do not have a nice amount of marbling. This will cut out most center cut chops. Since the anti-fat craze became popular, most hogs are bred and fed to have as little fat as possible, and therefore certain cuts do not have enough fat to keep them from drying out when cooked. I use only loin chops from the ends, which tend to be well marbled, and show proper feeding BEFORE going to the stock yards.

              You also might cut down the cooking time a little - some pink in the meat isn't dangerous and does add to the moistness, as well as the taste.

              1. My rule of thumb is to cook chops just long enough to ruin a steak.

                Then make a quick pan sauce with the drippings and pour over the meat to restore some liquid.