The best marinades are strongly flavored and mildly acidic, and can do wonders to enhance the flavors of your pork and provide a savory foil to the richness of the meat. Some include salt as well to make a flavored brine, which benefits lean cuts such as loin chops which lack the marbling to keep them moist.
Why You Drain
Ater you drain the marinade from your pork chops, you should blot the chops dry with a paper towel. Unnecessary moisture on the surface of the meat will turn to steam when it hits the hot pan, interfering with the chops' ability to brown. That's important, because the high heat of the pan creates new flavor compounds in the pork's protein molecules through a process called a Maillard reaction. That's how the chops acquire much of their savory, distinctively meaty flavor.
Brown or Gray
That browning is also important for esthetic reasons, because you "taste" food with your eyes and nose before that first bite ever arrives at your mouth. The moist marinade can only reach the temperature of boiling water, much too low to readily brown the pork. 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.
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.
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Susan Lundman began writing about her love of cooking, ingredient choices, menu planning and healthy eating after working for 20 years on children's issues at a nonprofit organization. She has written about food online professionally for ten years on numerous websites, and has provided family and friends with homemade recipes and stories about culinary adventures. Lundman received her M.A. from Stanford University.