When deciding what to put on the grill, one option that sometimes gets overlooked is the pork chop. This is strange, as they offer a lean and healthy choice, which is economical and makes for hassle-free cooking.
However, it is understandable that if you, like many others, have experienced a dry, tough, and bland pork chop, you will be less inclined to opt for them.
This will change, though, as we are about to share the keys to grilling wonderfully juicy and tasty chops with you.
- We advise choosing bone-in center-cut rib chops or center-cut loin chops.
- Brine or marinade your chops for added flavor and moisture.
- Or at least oil and season them before placing them on the grill.
- Ensure that the grate is at roughly 450°F before cooking.
- Grill for between 5 and 15 minutes, and then allow the chops to rest.
The great thing about pork chops is that they are meat that pairs well with almost any side dishes, and apart from grilling them, there are plenty of other ways to prepare them, too, if the weather does not cooperate.
However, you are here to find out what steps you need to take to rustle up some of the juiciest and best pork chops.
Selecting The Desired Chops For The Grill
There are plenty of options available to put on the grill, but the pork chop is undoubtedly one of the easier and more versatile things to choose, not to mention it tastes great and is inexpensive.
We have to account for some things, though, when choosing our desired piece.
For one, pork can be particularly lean at times, which means that one can easily overcook it by accident.
Therefore to ensure that your chops come out juicy and flavorsome, there are a few tips worth considering. Lean chops are great, but when grilling, something like sirloin chops is too lean.
We recommend opting for something like the bone-in center-cut rib chops or center-cut loin chops, as they are a bit more robust.
These tend to be the best options for grilling, especially if you are sure to buy chops that are at least 1-inch thick, any thinner, and they tend to cook through before crusting nicely on the outside .
We have mentioned our two most desirable cuts, but two other options are available to you.
Boneless chops are the leanest cut you are likely to get, and although they mean less cooking time, it is very easy to overcook. The shoulder chop is your last option and should rather be braised than grilled.
We're going to speak more in-depth in a moment about prepping your chops for the grill, but one thing worth noting is that if they are not moist enough before placing them on the grill, you can always oil them. This is different from some other meats where you oil the grill instead.
You can use grapeseed, canola, or olive oil.
Brining Your Pork Chops
There are a few ways to prepare your chops before placing them on the grill, and one of the most common ways to yield great results is to brine them.
Pork chops are typically a lean cut of meat, and submerging them in brine ensures that they lock in plenty of moisture, leading to the entire cut being seasoned.
Brining chops is pretty simple; all you will need to do is add sugar, salt, and seasoning of your choice to a pot of simmering water.
There is no need for it to boil; it just needs to be hot enough to dissolve the salt and sugar. Once that is done, place the brine in the refrigerator to cool before adding the chops.
Once the brine has cooled (add ice cubes to speed up the process), you can add the pork chops.
You can put them in a zip-top bag or a container that will allow the pork chops to be completely submerged in the brine. Leave the chops sitting in the brine, in the fridge for approximately 2 hours, but no more than 4 hours.
Some would even argue that brining your chops for as little as 1 hour is sufficient and that you will note the effects.
It is best to watch them if you brine them for more than 2 hours as the texture may become mushy. It is even possible to brine frozen chops, which will defrost over a few hours and be ready for the grill .
You can then remove the chops from the brine and transfer them to the grill, which you have also been preparing.
While cooking, do not add additional salt as the chops may become overly salted. Also, be sure not to purchase chops that have already been brined or salted, and if you do, do not repeat the process .
Marinating Your Pork Chops
Another wonderful way to prepare your pork chops is to make, or buy, a marinade.
Suppose you are going for the homemade option; this allows you to personalize the sauce.
In that case, you may want to consider including the following elements: olive oil, soy sauce, lemon zest, sugar, salt, pepper, garlic, and herbs (such as thyme or parsley).
Brining your pork chops can be done in a fairly short amount of time, and although one could marinate them for at least an hour, it is far more advisable to let them sit in the marinade for 8 hours or overnight.
By allowing them to sit and soak up the marinade for longer, you will find they come out more flavorsome .
As a marinade can take some time to prepare, if you would like to make it before the day of marinating your chops, you can do so.
However, it is suggested that you do not make it more than 3 days in advance. After that, be sure to keep it refrigerated and while the chops are resting in it.
Grilling Your Pork Chops Without Them Drying Out
If you have brined or marinated your chops, then you ought not to have this problem; however, if you do not have the time or ingredients at your disposal, there is something else you can do to ensure that your chops stay nice and juicy.
And this is, as mentioned before, oiling them before placing them on the grill.
To prepare them, you may also want to add your choice of seasoning, which you can sprinkle over the chops and then rub into the meat. You can do this while the grill is preheating, and the chops should absorb that extra moisture and spice.
You will also want to pay attention to how long to cook them and the temperature.
How Long And At What Heat Should You Grill?
When grilling, whether you are using a charcoal or gas grill, you want your grates to be hot, so we are looking at a temperature of roughly 450°F.
If your grate is cooler, that is fine; it will simply mean longer cooking time.
At this temperature, though, depending on the thickness, your chops will take 5 to 15 minutes.
One thing you have likely been told about pork is that it must be cooked properly; otherwise, it could pose a health risk.
This is true, to an extent. We used to typically cook pork until it was well done, which often resulted in it drying out and being tough and flavorless. This is no longer the case, but there are still parameters.
There have since been alterations to the USDA guidelines in cooking pork, and you will be surprised to hear that it is safe to consume pork cooked to medium-rare.
If you are cooking thinner cuts, which are about ¼ to ½ an inch thick, you will want to cook them over medium-high heat, but likely only for a total of 3-5 minutes.
You will also only need to turn the meat once. Thicker cuts (1 inch or more) will need to go for 10-15 minutes and should be turned every 3 minutes.
Should You Rest The Pork Chops After Grilling?
Yes, resting your pork chops allows the juices to distribute themselves within the meat properly, and the extra few minutes allow the internal heat of the meat to cook it that little bit further.
Giving them a few minutes to rest promotes their juiciness and ensures the tenderness of the meat .
Begin by buying either bone-in center-cut rib chops or center-cut loin chops, which are best for grilling. We recommend checking our review of ButcherBox, a meat delivery service company hailing from Boston.
Then either make a marinade or brine for your chops, or you can simply oil and spice them before grilling. Ensure that your grill grates are at the appropriate temperature and grill for the recommended time.
Following these steps and recommendations will lead you to have tasty, juicy pork chops that will change your mind about this cut of meat forever.
Don't be afraid to have a spot of fun and experiment a bit until you find what works best for you.