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cooking thick pork chops

To what temperature should a thick pork chop be cooked, so that it is still tender and juicy and also safe to eat?

I believe the recommended temp is 160, but don't they tend to get a little dry and tough at that temperature? We have lately tried pulling them off heat at 145, so that after resting they reach about 150-155. This results in a light pink center -- wondering if they are safe to eat that way.

Thank you!

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  1. Anything north of 137* is "Safe" to eat....After that the degree of doneness is a personal preference...I cook (pull at) to 140*145*.. As you know that will give you a slight pink, moist center...


    1. Trichinosis is killed at 137 degrees, so you're fine -- and you're absolutely correct, cooking to 160 results in dry, tough pork.

      1 Reply
      1. re: GretchenS

        trichinosis is a thing of the past. I cook to about 140 also. If you buy heritage pork, it's much more moist and you can cook longer without it becoming dry, but 140 works really well.

        If the chops are very thick, I'll pan sear them, then finish them in a hot, like 400f, oven.

      2. Brine - It's the only way my family will eat thick pork chops.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Maggie0557

          Agreed. If you're afraid of drying them out, brine them first.

          1. re: Maggie0557

            Also agreed... brining also makes the chops more forgiving if you over-cook them, leaving them very succulent.

          2. I pull all meat at 140, pink center or not. Even chicken.

            1. I believe it was Cook's Country, but possibly America's test kitchen, where this week's episode contained thick pork chops. That recipe will be free online. You have to register but that is free and does not involve a subscription.

              3 Replies
              1. re: greygarious

                I just made this one (on Smitten Kitten's blog) that's from Cooks Illustrated. It was excellent.


                I don't know if it's the same one you saw.

              2. !45 - 148 is perfect. Will be slightly pink. You could safely go lower but most people will have trouble wrapping their mind around it because of what has been drilled into them about pork that isn't well done.

                Trichinosis isn't near the problem is used to be because pigs nowadays are fed professionally formulated feed. Your grandparents used to feed them slop and table scraps. They would ingest the trichinosis and it would spread and come back to you in their meat.

                Like another reader, I highly recommend brining the pork chops for 30 - 60 minutes in a solution of 3-4 tablespoons of table salt and 2 tablespoons brown sugar per quart of water. This will season the chops better and infuse with moisture.

                1. I cook thick chops in the oven. I think brining tends to make them unpleasantly flabby, at least to my taste. I just season them well at least an hour before cooking, then brush on a good lubricating coat - Trader Joe's wasabi mayonnaise, Hellman's/Best Foods beaten up with some harissa paste and a little oil, or a paste of equal parts Dijon mustard and olive oil, applied to both sides. Then the chops are set on a wire rack in a shallow pan and baked at 350º until they're at 140º or so, never over 145º.