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Apr 30, 2010 06:18 PM

Help with pork chops

Lately I have been unable to cook pork chops so that they are tender. I have tried brining them, marinating them, etc but they are never as tender as I think they should be. I have a recipe for Italian pork chops that I have been making for years. In the past the chops were always succulent and tender but no longer. Pork chops seem to have so little fat that it is impossible to braise them and have tender chops.

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  1. Try brining. then breading them and then baking..If i could find a fatty. end cut pork loin then I'll cut my own chops for the pan .I agree the porks much too lean

    5 Replies
    1. re: scunge

      Yes, leaner hogs have been bred for the market, much leaner than even10-15 years back; I don't remember how long ago this trend started. The "other white meat" campaign was based on the leaner "healthier"pork with less fat, as it seems that's what consumers wanted. Too bad, I liked the juicy, fatty pork of olden days.

      I brine and bread cutlets from the loin and fry or bake, or grill chops not much past medium. Braising them until tender is an option, but I find the pork still to be a bit dry even when tender, almost like the texture of beef top round when braised.

      1. re: bushwickgirl

        Do you get your chops cut thick enough? That might help. My butcher always just has thin cut chops, but I've started to ask him to cut them for me at least an inch thick, special order. That SEEMS to help --

        1. re: bushwickgirl

          Can you tell me your brine ingredients for pork? Is it the same as poultry?

          1. re: boyzoma

            aurora50, yes, I get 1 inch bone-in when I can. The thin ones, fuggetaboutit, use them for soup.

            boyzoma, I have two favorite brines, both for very thick chops or I cut 1 inch slices of boneless loin. The first brine is a Cuban mojo-style; combine 1 cup orange juice, 1/2 cup lime juice, and 1/4 cup white or cider vinegar, let brine for no more than a half hour. Rub the chops with a little cumin and oregano, salt and pepper or use adobo seasoning, grill or pan fry the chops with onions and garlic, until medium, then make a pan sauce with a little more orange and lime juice and reduce. Serve with the usual Cuban sides, rice and beans and fried plantains.

            The second one is a traditional salt-sugar brine with brown sugar, black peppercorns and I use water and beer, 4 cups water or stock, 24 oz beer, your choice, I use lager, 1/2 cup kosher salt, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 2 Tbsp peppercorns. You can use a mild flavored stock as well for the water. Pork chops can brine in this for 4-5 hours, or even overnight. I use this just for pork and a different brine, although similar, for poultry.

            Here's a link with lots of info on brining:

            1. re: bushwickgirl

              Thank you BWG - this will be very helpful. Of all the things I have done, a brine is not one of them (I can usually get a juicy chicken or turkey without them) and never thought about doing pork. But I'm so frustrated with pork over the last few years, I was about to give up. But I still have some nice thick steaks in the freezer and want something tender.

      2. Thanks for the ideas. I will try the brine, bread, and bake method. At what temperature do you bake the chops? I had not thought of cutting my own chops - duh - but that may be the best method. I agree that the thicker chops seem to do better but like like bushwickgirl, I find them dry even when they are fairly tender.

        1 Reply
        1. Lean pork is challenging to cook, because there is so little headroom for overcooking. How recently did the recipe that used to work start not working. Perhaps your market has shifted suppliers? Some suppliers might have leaner pork than others.

          I do think that braising to full doneness is pretty much a non-starter cooking method for most of the pork chops that I have had in recent years.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Bada Bing

            Back in my school days at U of I, one of the football weekend themes was Pork Day -- the Illinois Pork Producers Association was a huge sponsor, and would do a whole bunch of promotions, usually involving having the football coach (Mike White at the time) hold up a huge platter of pork chops.

            At the time, the industry was pushing hard to sell pork as a lean, healthy meat ("the other white meat"). Well, of course they found out really quick that lean pork is not very juicy, not very tender, and not very tasty.

            The solution? Cook it medium! The thinking was that advances in ag science pretty much eliminated the risk of things like trichinosis, so no reason to insist on cooking the pork to well done. Many fine restaurants will normally prepare pork chops medium-rare -- they will only cook it more if you ask.

            Long and short, there is no reason to cook a pork chop until it's well done. Medium-rare seems to be shy of my comfort zone (not a fan of "wiggly" pork or ham), but medium turns out nice.

            1. re: MikeB3542

              I actually don't cook chops to well done, for the very reasons you mention. And I usually find the chops to be acceptably tender whenever they're not cooked much past 150 degrees. (Not that they taste like much apart from the rubs that I use! It's like loin chops have simply become a protein platform for other flavorings.)

              But the original poster was talking about pork acting differently from before, and I wonder what time span he/she had in view.

              1. re: Bada Bing

                This has happened the last two or three times - so probably a couple of years. As I read the posts, I am beginning to think I need a better source for pork. Maybe the Berkshire pork? Who sells that brand? Is it a brand?

          2. I usually love them on the grill - bone in. Hubby is fantastic at the grill, always tender. Last night we marinaded for a few hours in olive o, loads of garlic, oregano and s&p

            1. If you can find it, but some Berkshire pork. It's expensive, but it tastes like pork did before it became the other white meat.

              2 Replies
              1. re: grampart

                Is that a brand name? What stores sell Berkshire pork?

                1. re: Bethcooks

                  Not a brand. It's a breed of pig.