Today’s post is fraught with diversions and side notes. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
Pork chops. There is such a fine line between good pork chops and terrible pork chops that I just usually avoid cooking them altogether. (On a related note, this recipe for pork loin is the best pork I’ve ever cooked or eaten. The recipe is super reliable and beyond delicious. Side note #1 is now complete.) The other day I was thinking about pork chops and thought to myself that the AMAZING technique I discovered from America’s Test Kitchen for cooking steak could perhaps be applied to pork chops. (Side note #2: If you haven’t yet made the perfect steak, what are you waiting for? Seriously, you’ll never cook a steak on the grill again.) The technique involves baking the meat before searing and using a thermoeter. When you follow this technique, the steak cooks very evenly and comes out perfectly every time.
Okay, so back to pork chops. When I toured America’s Test Kitchen in Boston last summer, I got to meet a few of the chefs. As I was ruminating over pork chops this week, I
pestered emailed Chef Dan to ask his opinion. He said he thought it would work and gave me some advice, including target temperatures for the pork chops when cooking.
SOOOOO…I tried it last night and…it worked! I used the garden variety 3/4″ – 1″ thick boneless pork chops at the grocery store because that’s all they had that day. The pork chops came out not dry (woohoo!) and had great flavor. It’s still pork, so, you know, it’s no filet mignon. But the pork chops were simple and yummy and Anna and Owen could not stop eating them!
I am going to try the technique again another time with a different kind of chop and see what happens. But for now, here’s what I did if you want to give it a try yourself! The recipe is nice and simple!
Thanks for the advice, Dan of the Test Kitchens! For the record, if anyone cooks this and something goes wrong, blame me and not Dan! Unlike ATK, where they test recipes literally hundreds of times, the recipe below has been tested ONCE by yours truly. That’s what I call thorough recipe development.
- - ¾″ – 1″ thick pork chops
- - Rock salt (or a nice coarse salt if you don’t have the rock salt)
- - Pepper
- - A bit of olive oil
- Preheat oven to 275 degrees F.
- Let pork chops sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes. Pat dry then sprinkle with rock salt and pepper on both sides, pushing the salt into the surface of the meat with your fingers.
- Line a baking sheet with foil then place a wire rack on the lined cookie sheet (I also put a bit of foil over the wire rack for easier clean-up). Place the pork chops on the rack and insert an instant read, oven-proof thermometer into the center of one of the chops. Place in oven and cook until temperature reaches 115 degrees F (this took about 30 minutes).
- When the temperature hits 110 degrees, begin preheating a skillet at medium heat. Drizzle 1-2 tablespoons of oil on the pan while heating and spread it around by tipping the pan. Sear the pork chops (that have reached 115 degrees), about 5 minutes per side, until they reach 135 degrees. Don’t cook them longer than that! Quickly sear the edges just to brown them up and make them look prettier.
- Let meat sit for 5 minutes then serve.