Whether you grill, pan-fry or bake pork chops, it's essential to drain the marinade before cooking. The best marinades are strongly flavored and salty -- the salt acts as a brine, increasing the flavor and moisture of the chops and allowing the marinade to penetrate into the meat. All pork chops come from the rib section of the pig: Bone-in chops take longer to cook but are more flavorful while boneless chops cook quickly but can be dry if you're not careful.
After you drain the marinade before cooking a pork chops, you should blot the chops dry with a paper towel. High heat creates flavor by causing the meat's protein molecules, the amino acids, to react with its sugar molecules. New compounds then form, giving the chops a distinctive, meaty flavor. Too much moisture from a marinade can lower the temperature on the surface of the chops, slowing the chemical reactions and reducing flavor.
Brown or Gray
Because you "taste" food with your eyes and nose before a bite enters your mouth, it's important to pay attention to the appearance of the pork chops. Cooking your chops without draining them results in a steamed pork chop that is not only less flavorful, but is also an unattractive gray color. The chemical reaction of the amino acids and sugars produces shades of brown that are crusty, caramelized and look as good as they taste.
Handle With Care
Marinades belong in your cooking repertoire and so do safety rules. After draining the marinade, you may want to reuse it as a sauce. The best method for using it is to make enough to use as both a marinade and a sauce, without the sauce ever coming into contact with raw meat and potentially harmful bacteria. Or, you can cook the marinade at a rolling boil for a few minutes before using it.
Marinate your pork chops for about 20 minutes -- marinating for longer causes the meat's surface to become mushy. Cook the meat on a medium-high burner, giving boneless chops four minutes on each side and bone-in chops five to six minutes per side, until they reach an internal temperature of at least 140 degrees Fahrenheit when measured with a meat thermometer. Let the chops rest for five minutes before serving for the temperature to rise another 5 F and the meat's juices to reabsorb.
- The Science of Good Cooking; Editors at America's Test Kitchen and Guy Crosby
- The Flavor Bible; Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg
- Foodsafety.gov: Marinades: The Busy Cook's Friend
- Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images