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Oct 2, 2004 08:54 PM

the secret to cooking tender pork chops?

  • t

Need some help here:

I bought some double-cut chops the other day and gave them a good searing on both sides in a very hot pan then finished them in the oven.

The chops were done to my liking (just a hint of rose color in the center) and juicy, but lacked that soft tender quality that i've had in restaurants. Although they had a nice medium color, the texture of the meat was more like medium well or well done.

anyone have any suggestions on what i'm doing wrong?

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  1. The restaurants may be getting pork that is a bit closer in marbling to old fashioned (meaning good) pork, rather than the lean imposter that is sold in supermarkets.

    Consider going to a butcher who supplies a clientele that appreciates fattier pork and seeks it out for his or her customers.

    Failing that, have you tried brining?

    Whatever you do, don't buy pre-brined pork; there is a good deal of pre-treated pork in supermarkets these day, and it is very mushy in texture.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Karl S.

      I have to agree with that sentiment - it is a loty to do with the pork itself. Well marbled pork, unlike todays "lean" pork comes out more tender.

      When I get stuck with "lean" pork I will often brine it in a brine that includes cider vinegar - yes technically it becomes a marinade with the addition of the acid, and you can't keep them in too long or they will "cook" in the vinegar. But it makes them more tasty and seem (at least subjectively) to be more tender.

      Gotta agree with the pre brined pork info too - tends to make it mushy which does NOT equal tender.

      Sometimes when I get good thick double cut pork chops, I will brine them in a brine with a little Morton's tender quick for an hour or two, then smoke them low and slow like I would ribs, over hickory smoke, albeit for a much shorter period. The last batch I did were as tender as could be, and infused with a pink smoke ring.

      1. re: PenskeFan

        Just returned from Ireland and bought wonderful pork chops from Paddy Molligan's butcher shop in Kenmare on the Beara Peninsula. When I say bought pork chops I also watched a wonderful show of Paddy taking half a side of pork (fresh) and putting it on the board to saw, first in half and then cutting five nice chops off the hoof for our dinner. Delicious with baby new potatoes and savoy cabbage (my cousin made bubble and squeak with the remains next day).

        1. re: Zoe

          Now I am green with envy :) If only we had more places Paddy Molligan's over here...

          All the new super processed meats at our meat counter are "homoginizing" our meat choices. Sometimes I can't even find bone in pork chops. And it has been months since I could find a bone in chuck steak, YEARS since I saw a bone in chuck roast.

          Much less trying to explain to a "butcher" what a 7 bone roast is, or how leaf lard is made or what a st. louis spare is, or what a "cheater" rack is when it comes to baby backs, or... oh well rant over.

      2. re: Karl S.

        How do you know if it's pre-brined?

      3. My sis-in-law gave me this pork chop tip a few years ago. It's nothing fancy, mind you, but yields the most tender chops ever. I should make these for my boyfriend, now that you mention it!

        Sear the chops on both sides, add water and/or white wine about half way up (i use a fairly deep frying pan), throw on a few onions sliced into rings, salt and pepper. Cover, and in... oh, gosh, what is it, about 20 minutes (?) you'll have super super tender chops, some delicious onions, and the makings for a good quick sauce or gravy. The onions and the leftover juices in the pan also are great over potatoes or whatever.

        I'm sorry I don't remember the actual time they should cook while covered. I don't eat meat myself and it's been a while since I cooked any. I'd imagine you know how long you want to cook them!

        1 Reply
        1. re: liloo

          I made pork chops by this method tonight. Whole Foods had bone in thick pork chops on sale and I bought two very lovely looking chops. I followed liloo's description and had brined them for a couple hours prior in a cider base brine. They were extremely tender and the pan sauce was wonderful. Having only BBQ'd pork chops in the past (which i've done many many times), I was a little nervous but they were so good. I give Liloo's recipe 5 stars!!!

        2. Mario Batali's cookbook, Babbo, has an excellent easy recipe for porkchops with seared peaches that involves brining. I made them with supermarket pork chops and they were juicy and delicious.

          2 Replies
          1. re: judith G.

            A simple brine for pork chops is 3/4 C of Kosher salt and 6 T of sugar in 3 quarts of water. Put this solution with the pork chops in a large ziploc bag and squeeze as much air out as you can. Seal and refrigerate for about an hour. You can turn the bag every now and then during the hour. Remove, and dry off the chops.

            Caveat: If your supermarket sells only pork that has been injected with saline, or whatever they use, don't brine.

            1. re: Pat Hammond

              in addition to brining I'm also inclined to cook at a lower temperature after you've seared the chops.....finish cooking in the oven at around 225-250* - it's gonna take awhile but the lower temperature will keep the meat (protein) from seizing up and drying out. turn the chop over while cooking to keep the juices evenly distributed - resting still helps but it won't take as long as a chop cooked at 375*

          2. Try soaking the chops in milk - I use an Epicurous
            recipe that calls for soaking them in milk and letting them sit in the frig, then drying them, coating with bread crumbs and cooking stovetop.
            Makes the absolutely best, most tender chops we have ever had - better than brine in our opinions.


            4 Replies
            1. re: aussiedog

              can you tell me the name of this recipe? thanks.

              1. re: kookiegoddess

                Don't know what Robin made but here is one where you soak the chops in milk.


              2. re: aussiedog

                I have finally gotten around to trying these - I wanted a porchetta flavour in a meal for just 2 people, so I followed the brine in milk method, then flavoured my breadcrumbs with sage, rosemary, fresh garlic, lemon zest, crushed fennel seeds and plenty of pepper. I got a couple of thick, bone-in pork chops from the butcher, removed most of the fat and breaded them as per the Epicurious recipe. I fried them on medium high heat till nicely golden (in light olive oil) and then transferred to a 375/190 deg oven for about 6-7 min. They only rested for a couple of minutes. I served with garlic roasted potatoes and purple sprouting broccoli drizzled with lemon juice and EV olive oil.

                The pork was delicious, wonderfully juicy and tender. I loved that I could taste all the different seasonings in the crumb, and the deeply savoury flavour of the seasonings overall.

                When I make this again I will probably not bother with potatoes, I would just serve a few different kinds of veggies - you could do this with ratatouille and green beans, or roasted squash and cabbage, or a lovely root vegetable mash and savoy cabbage.

                Thanks again for posting this method! A lovely anniversary meal for my husband and I!

              3. g
                George Lynch

                My wife and I buy almost all of our pork chops (as well as slab bacon and other meats) from Niman Ranch. We get the Frenched pork chops, which are very large and meaty. Initially, we used to pan fry or broil the chops, and while they were good, we felt that they were a little dry.

                So we began brining the chops and that made quite a bit of difference. However, my wife thought that brining sometimes added too much of a salty flavor for her taste, although I didn't feel that way. But that kept us looking for more recipes.

                Then we discovered the following recipe, which is the one we have been using lately and will continue to use, as we think this method yields the best chops.

                We begin by heating a large heavy skillet over a high flame, then adding some oil. When the oil shimmers (just before it begins to smoke), we brown the chops on both sides and also along the fatty edge (standing the chops on end) for 2 minutes per side and edge, a total of 6 minutes in all.

                Then we remove the chops from the pan and lower the heat while we add diced onions (we like a lot - at least a cup) and chopped or crushed garlic to the pan to deglaze the pan and to soften the onions. Once the onions are softened (a couple of minutes), we add some white wine (a quarter to half a cup) to further deglaze the pan and let that reduce a little (two or three minutes over medium heat). Then we add about a half cup of chicken stock and let the whole mixture simmer for about two or three minutes. Adjust the heat as necessary.

                At that point we put the chops back in the pan, cover and simmer on low heat for 20 minutes (as I said, these are big chops). A couple of minutes one way or the other doesn't make any difference.

                After 20 minutes we remove the chops from the pan and add about a quarter cup of heavy cream to the liquid in the frying pan. We allow that mixture to simmer for two or three minutes, increasing the heat as necessary, then we add one (sometimes two) heaping tablespoon of a good mustard and mix well. This creates a very tasty mustard sauce that we both really like.

                Finally we plate up the chops and drizzle the sauce all around and over the chops.

                Serve with some avocado, a sliced tomato, perhaps some cauliflower or broccoli, and you have a terrific meal.

                Note that I am not very precise about amounts. We have found that you can increase or decrease any of the ingredients according to your taste and still get great results.

                8 Replies
                1. re: George Lynch

                  HELP! I find it difficult to make tender pork chops without cooking them in a sauce> I'd love to know how to broil a pork chop simple and have them juicy and tender. I tried to brine them for a few hours but they were stiff tough and chewy.

                  1. re: Sherri K

                    This spring I rec'd a sample copy of Cook's Illustrated magazine from America's Test Kitchen (PBS). There is a major article called "Juicy Weeknight Pork Chops" in twenty minutes.
                    To sum it up:
                    1-Cut two slits about 2" apart through the fat and connective tissue on the outside of the chops
                    2-Place the pork chops in a cold pan with bony ribs facing the center
                    3-Turn on heat to medium
                    4-after a few minutes, cover and reduce heat to low
                    They should be ready after a total of twenty minues, check internal temp for doneness

                    I have done this when cooking pork chops for our dog this evening.
                    The author warns that the one drawback is that the chops do not develop a nice color unless, you add sugar or salt and pepper the raw meat.

                    I used salt, pepper and onion powder on the chops before cooking. They developed a nice golden color, a bit of a crust and were extremely juicy. There was juice in the pan after cooking, which never happens with chops started in a preheated pan.

                    The article also gives a gude to buying chops and cuts...
                    Rib or center cut chops are very good and have much flavor. Blade and sirloin chops are not recommended. They are bony, tough, juiceless...

                    Also boneless chops are extremely dry

                    1. re: Sherri K


                      I think the answer is in the posts from five years back.

                      Buy good quality chops that have an ample layer of fat and buy from a butcher you know and trust. For anything other than very thin chops (like you get in Spain), I would normally brown in a frying pan and then finish cooking in the oven.

                      1. re: Harters

                        I am not sure that I believe any of you.

                        I have tried everything myself. Brining. Fancy fatty chops. It always fails.

                        Mind you, I have done well by most standards, but if you have had perfect chops, then you know that there is one more trick out there that doesn't get a lot of publicity.

                        I am thinking that it might be to reverse the normal course of events. Slow roast at a lower temperature so as not to alter the meat and then caramelizing the outside with a quick sear. Anyone tried that technique?

                        1. re: nhb2009

                          nhb2009: This is the only way that I cook thick cut pork chops. Soak chops in brine for an hour, slow roast at 275 until internal temp reaches 120-125 and then sear in pan until temp reaches 140. Juicy and tender every time.

                    2. re: George Lynch

                      LOVED this recipe. I made it once with pork chops, then with chicken, then again with chops for my son this time. He asked for it again tonight for dinner and called it "Dank ass good". I think that was a compliment. This recipe is a keeper and will be used many more times in my kitchen. Thank you so much!!!!!!!!

                      1. re: George Lynch

                        Great recipe, George! We don't eat much pork because it's usually so d-r-y. But need to eat it on January 1st for good luck :) I picked up some thick rib chops about 1 1/2 inches. Prepared everything exactly as you described and the chops were perfect. We could have cut them with a fork but opted for a knife. Have to be proper! The sauce is an excellent accompaniment. And no brining needed.

                        1. re: George Lynch

                          I know I'm resurrecting a REALLY old thread, but I wanted to thank you for the pork chop recipe! The gravy was absolutely fantastic. The chops were pretty tender, but not super tender- I believe this is my husband's fault because he kept saying "I don't want to see any pink meat!" Sigh*** So I left them braising probably a little too long.