Pork chops make for a rewarding everyday dinner. They're meaty, quick to cook and work well with a variety of seasonings. However, pork chops are easy to overcook thanks to their relative lack of fat. Too much cooking results in overly dry, chewy meat. This unfortunate outcome is preventable with a little care, whether you prepare thick-cut chops or the slimmest, daintiest cuts.
Brining pork chops before you cook them almost guarantees moist and juicy results. The brine prevents moisture loss and infuses the chop with protective moisture thanks to the principle of osmosis. Add all sorts of seasonings -- such as herbs, brown sugar, lemon or garlic -- to a basic salt and water brine. Or use apple cider instead of water for the liquid. Soak the chops for four to eight hours for best results.
Another way to ensure moist pork chops is to cook them partially in liquid, a method known as braising. This technique works best with thick-cut chops, but any cut may be braised. Braise chops in a variety of liquids, including red wine, apple cider, beer, chicken stock or even milk. Add the seasonings you prefer, and bring the chops and the liquid to a gentle simmer until the pork is cooked through. After the meat is cooked, reduce the braising liquid to create a pan sauce.
Saucing or smothering pork chops can help keep the meat moist. Choose a recipe where, after the initial sear, you finish the chops by cooking them with the sauce. Create a cream-based sauce seasoned with mustard, mushrooms or garlic. Or pan-cook pork chops with a good helping of sliced onions and a small amount of chicken broth for classic smothered pork chops.
Let meats rest after removing them from the heat so that the juices have a chance to redistribute, because meat keeps cooking after it's been taken off the stove. Cook pork chops to a temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit, and use a good-quality meat thermometer to keep track of their progress. Remove them from the heat immediately once they reach the target temperature, and let them rest for five minutes before serving.
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