Grilling pork chops for the first time - any suggestions?
I'm going to grill some boneless pork chops tomorrow, about 1" thick.
I've never done these before. I'm thinking just a salt-and-pepper rub, but have no idea how long(I'll be using charcoal, in an old Weber kettle)it should take. Should i use a sauce or marinade?
Lots of marinades, rubs and sauces will work. Try googling "grilled pork chops" for ideas. Brining will help keep the meat moist, though not everyone likes the flavour/texture it imparts. Be careful when using sweet marinades, rubs and sauces as the sugar in them is quick to burn.
One of my favourite preps is to grill plain chops and baste them repeatedly with Portuguese-style piri piri sauce, a mix of chile peppers, olive oil, lemon juice or vinegar and, optionally, some herbs. Salt and pepper after grilling.
The biggest danger is drying out the meat by overcooking. Pay no attention to the health fascists who insist you should cook chops for a half hour or 45 minutes. For a 1-inch thick chop, 5-7 minutes a side should do (depending on the heat of your fire and the grill's distance from it, of course). To check for doneness, cut into the thickest part of the chop close to the bone; as soon as the juices run clear, the chop is done. Overcooking can occur in a minute or two.
Basically, grill them directly over the fire for about 2-3 minutes per side. Then move them to a cooler side of the grill, cover, and cook for about 8 more minutes. If you have an instant read thermometer, take them off at about 135 degrees. Then, put them on a plate, cover with foil, and let rest 10 more minutes. The internal temp will rise another 10 degrees or so.
If you don't know what I mean about a "cooler side of the grill", here is a little more detail: Put your charcoal on one side of the grill. Cooking directly over the coals will be very hot. Food will brown quickly, but also burn quickly on this side. So you want to start the chops here, get them browned, and then move to the other side (where there is no charcoal) and let them cook gently until they reach the desired temp.
1. Brine: many people like to soak their pork in a salt and sugar water, called a brine, for about an hour before cooking. This hydrates allows the sugar and salt to penetrate the interior of the meat and makes it more moist and flavorful. If you want to do this, bring about 3 cups of water to a boil. Add a 1/2 cup of salt and 1/2 cup of sugar, and stil to disolve. Then add cold water and ice cubes. When the liquid is cold, pour it over the pork and seal it (in a bowl, or ziplock bags). Let it sit for an hour. Then dry the meat with a paper town and proceed. Some people like to dress up their brine by adding other things, like orange juice, spices, etc.
2. Rub. Put your rub on the meat about an hour before cooking (after you've done the brine, if you are going that way). Cover and let it rest until you are ready to cook. If your rub has a lot of salt in it, it will act similarly to the brine, so no need to do both.
3. Sauce. Put sauce on the meat (like BBQ sauce) during the last minute or two of cooking. Or, heat the sauce separately, and put it on the meat when you serve it. You don't want the sauce on the meat to early in the cooking process because the sugar in the sauce can easily burn.
4. Marinade. If you are marinating the meat, rather than using a rub, do it for about an hour before cooking. If the marinade has salt in it, it will act similarly to the brine, so there is no need to do both.
I definitely second the recommendation of brining! It makes a huge difference in moistness and flavor. It's really easy to overcook them, esp. on the grill.
I just brined for the first time, 1" loin chops. fabulous.
I used Zuni cookbook - you warm up a cup of water on the stove and add whatever herbs/aromatics you want -- I used 4 chipotle peppers and a couple of star anise pods. Salt and sugar was much less than suggested by the other poster -- 2 tablespoons of each I think. The warmed up water is added to another few (up to 5) cups of tap water. Brine in fridge up to 4 days.
There is no "right" ratio of salt to water for a brine. You've made a pretty weak brine, which is why you can keep it in the brine for up to 4 days. Most people tend to make brines that are closer to "full strength," that is, the water cannot hold any more salt in it. With a full strength brine, you would let pork chops sit for 1 to 4 hours, of so. You might let a pork should sit for one and half days, to give you an example of something massive.
The only reason I could think of for making a weak brine is that if you want to simultanously give other flavors to the meat (such as peppers or star anise). In this case, a short brine might be enough for the salt to do its thing, but not enough time to let the other spices do theirs. I'm just speculating, though. Like I said, I usually see recipes for full strength brines.
Finally, I should have been more clear above: I use Morton's Kosher salt. Different salts have different densities. 1/2 cup of Morton's is equivalent to 1/4 cup of table salt. There are also differences in the salt content of different brands of Kosher salt.
For more on brining, see