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Pork: Help!

Whatever I do, my pork chops --- thin or thick, bone-in or boneless --- seem to come out hard and dry. I reduce the cooking temperature, reduce the cooking time, nothing helps.
A friendly butcher in a small market recently said he cooks thick bone-in rib chops in butter, very slowly. The first time I tried them they were astounding! But I've tried twice since then and they were all right, I guess, but still --- dryer than I like, therefore harder than I like.
Does anyone have ANY secrets??????
I love pork, and really don't want to give up.

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  1. Do you measure the internal temperature of the pork chop once it's finished cooking? Pork chops are usually very lean these days, so they're easy to overcook. I actually slightly under cook mine.

    1. Brineing could do the trick for you. I think that C.I. did an episode or may be it was A.B. any way you should be able to find directions readily on the web.

      1. I braise my pork chops in white wine with herbs and garlic after browning in olive oil. I cook them until they fall off the bone and find them tender and juicy. Not enough fat in most of them for quick cooking techniques in MHO.

        1. First, get pork from a local source. The amount of fat is far superior to supermarket pork.

          Second, make sure you're not cooking it past 145F. Pink pork is ok. The Dept. of Agriculture recently confirmed so.

          1. Thanks, all.
            Part of the problem may be my thermometers --- the pork never even gets up to 135 on them, but by finger test and cutting into them, it has to be way over.
            I'm going to try the braising recipe for something different; and there are a couple of places where I think I can find local pork.
            I tried brining once, and thought it ended up an odd consistency. But I could give it another try ---

            3 Replies
            1. re: BerkshireTsarina

              Brining chops, cooking them stovetop and then finishing them in the oven results in delicious, juicy chops. I use bone-in chops that are about 1 1/2 inch thick, brine for one hour and then let them come to room temp before cooking. Rinse them and dry well and season them with fresh herbs. Heat a skillet to med-high, add olive oil and a pat of butter and brown chops on one side w/out moving for 3-4 minutes. Flip chops and place in an oven pre-heated to 400. Let them cook until a thermometer reads 140-145. Remove to a plate and let them rest, covered w/foil, for 10 minutes. They come out great every time and I learned all of this reading Chowhound!

              What I learned from personal experience is to turn the exhaust fan on high, open all the windows and pop the batteries out of the kitchen smoke detector before cooking chops this way. Also, deglaze the pan w/wine to make a nice pan sauce AND remember to use a potholder to pick up the skillet once it has been in the oven - sometimes taste testing the wine that makes a nice pan sauce can make one a bit forgetful...

              1. re: BerkshireTsarina

                I almost always wet brine pork when I cook it. You want to be sure you don't overbrine for the salinity of the solution you use. That could be giving you the funny texture. Also, brined pork chops don't need to cook as long as non-brined ones, so bring meat to room temp before cooking and be careful not to overcook.

                I used the finger on thumb method to check for doneness (place middle finger on thumb; the springiness of that pad of flesh at the base of your thumb is the same as meat cooked to medium), not a thermometer.

                Final tip: One of my favorite recipes (for cider glazed pork chops) calls for searing the outside of the chop, first, removing the chops from the pan while cooking some other ingredients and then returning the chop to finish cooking in a reduced apple cider and apple cider vinegar mixture. That recipe has never resulted in dry pork chops for me.

                1. re: BerkshireTsarina

                  Do you have a digital thermometer? The non-digital (mechanical) ones tend to take some time to warm up.

                2. Today's too-lean pork is challenging. All of the ideas here are great. If it still eludes you, try looking for a precise recipe at America's Test Kitchen. They will give you the exact cooking time/temp for a certain thickness/kind of chop. Remember that pork can be slightly pink at its best.

                  1. I don't know how he does it, but my husband's porkchops always turn out moist. He grills them and is meticulous about timing them. Have you calibrated your thermometer? When I make chops inside, I will sear them on the stove, finish in the oven. I use thick chops, usually, and never really had a problem with them drying out. You are probably cooking them too long. I've sometimes marinated mine, but have never brined them or done anything real fancy. How are you turning them, piercing them with a fork?

                    1. I think pork chops are one of those cuts of meat that either needs to be done just perfectly pinkish or braised until very tender. It is in between those two that you get dry and tough meat, much like with the less expensive cuts of beef without marbling. (But then my great Aunt, who could drink and smoke and lived to be 90+, once made me great pork chops that turned out to be Shake and Bake...but then that was 35 years ago when pork had some fat in it.)

                      1. Generally speaking, the methods for cooking meats are these:

                        Hot and Fast OR Low and Slow

                        If you use the H & F method and cook it too long, you will get dry results.

                        If you use the L & S method and don't cook it for long enough, you will get tough results.

                        1. Try soaking your chops in a brine for 30 minutes or so before cooking them. 1qt cold water, 2T kosher salt, and 1/4-c brown sugar. Soak inch-thick chops in the fridge for 30 minutes or so while you prep the other dinner items. When you're ready to address the chops, rinse them off and pat them dry. Sear the chops on both sides over high heat in a skillet with a little oil in it. When they're browned, transfer them to a medium-hot oven (375-400) for about 15 minutes to finish the cooking. They'll be done when they hit about 155-160 on a digital thermometer. Let them rest for about 10 minutes before you cut into them.

                          1 Reply
                          1. Like most of the replies, I prefer to brine thick chops for an hour or two before starting them on the stovetop and finishing in the oven.

                            I just wanted to add that ever since reading about it somewhere (Cooks Illustrated I think) I start with a cold pan and just lightly coat the chops with oil instead of oiling the pan.
                            I don't exactly remember the reasoning for not preheating the pan, but it works for me.
                            I basically just brown the first side, flip, and almost immediately put the (oven safe) pan in the oven to finish browning the second side and cooking the chop to about 140 degrees F..

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Bryan Pepperseed

                              This is intriguing. Do you have a gas stove or electric? I would guess that with electric, the burner would need to be preheated before placing the chop-filled cold pan upon it? Is your oven at about .....425 or so?

                              1. re: sandylc

                                I have electric (not by choice) and I don't recall ever preheating the burner.
                                However, having dug up and re-read the Cooks illustrated acticle, i see that they recommend doing so with the burner set to medium when using electric.

                                Here's a link for anyone who has an online membership to CI.
                                http://www.cooksillustrated.com/recip...

                                As for the oven, apparently I've combined techniques because CI only uses the stovetop and just covers the pan after turning the burner down to low.
                                If I had to guess, I'd say that I decided to finish in the oven because I always do thick chops, and CI's recipe uses 1/2" chops.
                                Anyway, for mine, I'd say I have the oven set closer to 350 than 425.

                            2. A couple years ago I bought some great double cut pork chops at a meat marjet. I grilled them and they seemed to be taking a long time to come up to temp. I finally got the to a little less than 145° and took them off the grill. When we cut into them they were extremely well done. I tried a different instant read thermometer and it read 190°. I had a bad thermometer. I was slightly annoyed. My advice is to get a digital instant read thermometer. (And test it).

                              1. I tried this recipe for pork chops and it turned out well. I think the marinade makes the meat a bit more tender and moist.

                                http://fortychestnuts.com/2011/09/15/...

                                Dijon Mustard and Red Wine Marinated Pork Chops with Sautéed Pear and Apples

                                (serves 4

                                )

                                - for the marinade -

                                1/2 cup red wine, any kind you have on hand

                                1 tablespoon dijon mustard

                                1 garlic clove, thinly sliced

                                2 teaspoons honey

                                1 teaspoon sage (dried, lightly ground)

                                1 teaspoon rosemary

                                salt

                                black pepper

                                - for everything else-

                                4 boneless pork chops, about 1″ thick

                                1 pear, peeled, cored and sliced into thin wedges

                                1 apple, peeled, cored and sliced into thin wedges

                                olive oil

                                Mix together the marinade ingredients into a non-reactive container or ziploc bag.

                                Add in the pork chops and marinade at least 2 hours, or overnight.

                                In a skillet over high heat, heat a few tablespoons of olive oil until shimmering.

                                Add the marinated pork chops to the skillet and cook turning once, about 7 minutes.

                                Remove pork chops from skillet and transfer to a plate. Keep warm.

                                Add the pear and apple slices to the skillet.

                                Cook on medium-high heat until softened and golden, about 4-6 minutes depending on thinness.

                                Serve pork chops with the sautéed pear and apple slices.

                                 
                                1. You need chops with a good layer of fat - a centimetre's about right. That means you need a good source - supermarket pork just doesnt cut it.