NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

PortWatch

November 6, 2013

Getting great pork chops is all about the size

Everyone loves the idea of a grilled pork chop, but they often fall short of expectations. And I blame the butcher!

Many chops and steaks are cut so thin, it is almost impossible not to overcook them, even for a seasoned griller like me. When chops and steaks are cut thin, say a half-inch or less, the price is appealing, but the end result may not be to your liking. It is far better to buy one thicker steak or chop and split it than to buy two thinner cuts.

I have found that a boneless center-cut pork chop is the answer. And it always exceeds expectations. You can buy the chops from your butcher or cut them yourself from a pork loin. Just make sure that they are a generous 1-inch-thick.

The next secret is to brush the chop all over with olive oil. My motto: Oil the food, not the grill! The olive oil not only helps prevent the meat from sticking to the grates, it also promotes caramelization, which in turn helps lock in the meat’s juices. If you don’t brush the chop with oil, the natural juices will evaporate as the meat cooks.

A quick sprinkle of kosher or sea salt, and you are ready to grill. I recommend a medium direct heat and 5 to 6 minutes per side.

Finally, it is essential that you let the pork chops rest at least 5 minutes so the juices will redistribute, making your chop tender and juicy. This means no cutting into the chop — even to test for doneness! Use an instant-read meat thermometer or learn visual clues for doneness. It is much better to serve a warm pork chop that has had time to rest than a piping-hot chop that hasn’t had time to rest and loses all of its juices once you cut it.

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