Cooked correctly, pork chops that show some fat marbling need little more than salt and pepper for flavor. However, other spices and spice blends give variety to your meals. Experiment with seasonings and spice mixes for baked pork chops, grilled chops or pan-fried chops.
A mustard cream sauce transforms baked pork chops into a special dish. Make the sauce with either spicy prepared mustard stirred into a white sauce or from scratch with crushed mustard seeds, turmeric, sugar and a splash of vinegar. Or flavor a cream sauce with 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg. Marinate pork chops for grilling in a vinaigrette seasoned with 1/4 teaspoon of dried rosemary. For pan-fried chops, sprinkle on smoky paprika both before and after cooking.
Spice Mixes and Rub
When you apply a wet or dry spice rub to grilled or pan-fried pork chops before cooking, your chops develop a flavorful crust; let the mix or rub sit on the chops for about an hour before cooking. Use typical barbecue spices such as equal amounts of chili powder, garlic powder and smoked paprika, or go with a Cajun-inspired seasoning mix of equal amounts red pepper flakes, garlic powder, onion powder and celery salt.
Mild-flavored pork chops cooked in any way take well to spices from around the world. For chops with Greek flavors, marinate them in a mix of 1 teaspoon of dried oregano with 2 teaspoons each of oil, wine vinegar and minced garlic, as recommended by Cooking Light magazine. Serve the chops with a Greek dill-cucumber sauce. For either pan-fried or grilled chops, use an Italian blend of spices that includes equal amounts dried parsley, thyme, basil and oregano.
Cooking Pork Chops
The United States Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service recommends cooking pork until it reaches 145 degrees Fahrenheit on an instant-read thermometer, but many chefs and home cooks serve pork chops slightly less done. The parasites that cause trichinosis die at 137 degrees F and hog farm regulations enacted in the middle of the 20th century have made pork generally safer to eat.
- Foodsafety.gov: Safe Minimum Cooking Temperatures
- The Deluxe Food Lover's Companion; Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst
- My Recipes: Greek-Style Pork Chops
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Parasites -- Trichinellosis (Also Known as Trichinosis)
- Bon Appetit: Is It Safe to Eat Medium-Rare Pork?
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.
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