There are many simple ways to cook pork chops that produce juicy, flavorful chops, but pan frying arguably is the easiest. Take care not to overcook them, which transforms a tender piece of meat into a chewy challenge with little taste or visual appeal. To avoid overcooking, test the internal temperature of the pork chops with an instant-read thermometer and remove them from the heat when it reads 145 degrees Fahrenheit. According to guidelines issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the chop then needs to rest for three minutes to reach a safe internal temperature. If you're still leery of pork cooked to medium doneness, you can wait until the thermometer registers higher, but your pork chop will be drier and less tasty.
The easiest way to cook pork shops is to pan fry them using a bit of oil. Dredging them in your favorite coating, such as seasoned flour, breadcrumbs, or prepackaged coating mix, keeps them moist during cooking. Fry them over medium high heat, turning them once, until the outside is crunchy and the interior is done but still moist. Medium-thick chops are ideal for this method. Another easy cooking technique that you can use if your pork chops are thin is to quickly pan-sear them over medium high heat for a few minutes a side to give the meat a brown, slightly crunchy exterior. If you want to make pork stir-fry, cut the chops into matchsticks, and cook them over high heat with your choice of similarly cut vegetables in a hot wok or deep, heavy skillet.
You can also cook thin pork chops in under 10 minutes in a moderately hot oven. To pump up the flavor, marinate them for a half hour or so before baking. If the exterior isn't brown enough, run them under a broiler unit for a minute or so. You can also broil chops without baking them first, but carefully monitor the process to avoid overcooking, which happens quickly under the direct, intense heat of a broiler.
Although pork ribs are usually the top choice for grilling, you can also grill pork chops on an outdoor or stovetop grill. Cook them over a hot charcoal fire or gas grill flame or in a very hot stovetop grill pan for just a few minutes a side until they're nicely charred. You can serve them plain or brush a bit of barbecue sauce on them right before serving.
Slow Cooked Chops
Pork chops are also easy to incorporate into slow cooked, one-pot meals. In a slow cooker or heavy Dutch oven, layer thick-cut chops with sauerkraut, canned tomatoes, or your favorite root vegetables, and season to taste. After several hours of slow cooking, the chops will be juicy, tender, and infused with the flavors of the seasonings and accompanying ingredients.
Cassie Damewood has been a writer and editor since 1985. She writes about food and cooking for various websites, including My Great Recipes, and serves as the copy editor for "Food Loves Beer" magazine. Damewood completed a Bachelor of Arts in English with an emphasis in creative writing at Miami University.