As much as I cook, I stayed away from cooking pork chops for a long time – way longer than I should have. I just couldn't seem to cook them without ending up with completely dry pork chops that were dry and tough and not all appetizing to me or anyone sitting around my table. But I now have a little more experience and have experimented with different ways of cooking pork chops that make them succulent, juicy and leaving everyone begging for seconds.
Do you, too, suffer from serving dry tasteless pork chops? Have you veered away from this cut of meat for the simple reason that you don't think you can make them tasty? Worry no more. Below are five tried and tested ways to tenderize pork and keep all the juices inside where they belong. Cook a lot of them because I guarantee all the pork-lovers around your table are going to keep coming back for more.
1. Pound the pork.
One way to tenderize pork, or any meat for that matter, is to pound it with a mallet. Don’t have a mallet? Don’t worry about it, a rolling pin will work just fine.
Pounding the meat will break up the tiny fibers of protein that can really bind together during the cooking process and cause that pork to also tighten up and become tough.
2. Score the pork.
This is a process that’s known as "mechanical tenderization." This also breaks up the fibers and, through the magic of science, helps to keep all the juices inside so you get a more flavorful pork chop.
3. Marinate the pork.
Marinating is effective because it not only tenderizes the pork and actually adds moistness and flavor to the pork. Just keep in mind that things like vinegar and lemon juice can be far too acidic and can actually work against what you’re trying to do and toughen up the meat. Instead, choose a gentler acidic ingredient such as yogurt or buttermilk. For another tip, bread the pork chops with just bread crumbs (doing away with the eggs and flour that typically comes with breading), and your pork chops will magically become juicy and delicious.
4. Brine the pork.
Brine is a simple solution of salt and water, and it will do wonders for your chops! Again, there’s science involved here, but a simple brine of about 1 cup of salt to every gallon of water will do. Brine the chops in this solution for four or five hours before cooking, and you’ll wonder why you haven’t been doing it your whole life. Want to ramp up the flavor even more? Replace the water with apple cider, and add complementary herbs such as thyme or rosemary to it.
5. Salt the pork and then salt it again.
Want to help save your friends from dry, bland pork chops? You actually do need to generously salt the pork once before they even hit heat, and then salt them again at the end of cooking time. It makes all the difference.