Best Pork Chops Ever
I kid you not, these Best Pork Chops Ever will turn even the biggest pork chop sceptic into a pork chop lover! The method is possible because of two key considerations: quality pork and a strategic preparation.
Pork chops …what comes to mind when you think of them? Before I got my hands on quality chops and THEN figured out how to cook them, I used to think, “dry, rubbery, no flavor.” I would read “pork chop” on a menu and instantly skip ahead. I also didn't like making them for us at home because they always turned out (you guessed it): dry, rubbery, and with no flavor.
I stayed slightly optimistic about pork chops and kept trying them out. After years of dry, flavorless experiments, I stumbled on a chop that blew my little pork chop-loathing socks right off. I, in my own kitchen with my own humble cooking skills, managed to cook a pork chop that was moist, tender, and bursting with flavor. These pork chops were craveable …a word I NEVER thought I'd associate with pork chops.
Two things were crucial to my discovering the Best Pork Chops Ever, which I alternatively could've named, “pork chops that even pork chop sceptic will LOVE.”
- High quality pork chops.
- A simple (but strategic) preparation.
Let's address how to find quality chops! Though we've become accustomed to looking for “hormone + antibiotic-free” on labels for beef, the rules are slightly different for pork. For example, hormones are already forbidden in pork in the US. A label stating “hormone-free” (which is likely followed by a statement that reads “Federal regulations prohibit the use of hormones”) is pretty misleading. So, what do we look for in pork? “Heritage Breed” is a great place to start. Heritage Breeds are known for pastured upbringing and end cuts that have more flavor and more marbling. WHERE ON EARTH can you find Heritage Breed pork? Local ranchers are a great place to start, but I get mine from ButcherBox.
Here's a little about the Heritage Breed Pork from ButcherBox:
Our pork is heritage breed and free of antibiotics and hormones, and never fed ractopamine – a growth promotant frequently administered to pork. We source predominantly pork with Duroc, Berkshire and Red Wattle genetics. These are pigs that have not had the flavor bred out of them. Over the last generation or so, in pursuit of more rapid weight gain, pig breeders cut out the marbling that gives pork its flavor, resulting in dry, bland product. Our pork is different. It is a rich color and beautifully marbled.
The pork is either pastured or meets the following standards: raised in open barns with space to engage in natural behaviors and given bedding. No tail docking or other physical alterations are allowed.
I haven't had a bad pork chop from ButcherBox in my (nearly 2) years of monthly deliveries!
MAKING THE BEST PORK CHOPS EVER
I won't spoil it for you (because all the juicy details are in the recipe card below), but there are three basic steps to making the best darn pork chops of your life:
The Brine – A typical brine is essentially salt water that you use to “bathe” your raw proteins before cooking. Brines may sound like an extra, unnecessary step, but believe-you-me, they are WORTH IT. Especially when it comes to pork chops. When we allow our uncooked cuts of meat to sit in a bath of salt water (+ maybe other flavors), a couple things happen. First, salt water will travel into the muscle tissue (think: osmosis) in an effort to establish an equilibrium with the surrounding medium. Even though all meats lose water while they're cooked, this process results in a finished product that is juicier and more flavorful. It's like plumping your meat up and also seasoning from within. The second thing that happens is that the meat will be more tender. The salt will encourage those muscle tissues to relax a bit – making for a more tender finished product.
The Sear – Searing meat on a hot-hot pan does a couple things. First, it creates a firm barrier so that more juice stays IN the cut while it finishes cooking. Second, it yields one of those oh-so-delicious crusts that we all just crave.
The Bake – While you can absolutely cook your pork chop entirely on the stove, I'm a big fan of an oven finish. After your initial sear on one side, I like to transfer the chops to an oven because the ambient temperature there helps finish cooking the pork chops evenly on all sides. You will get a fabulous crust on both sides and the outside (of a thicker chop) won't become too tough as you wait for the inside to finish cooking.
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- What: Free Bacon for LIFE!
- Deal: New customers who sign up will receive a free package of bacon in each box for the lifetime of your subscription!
- About the Bacon: ButcherBox Bacon is uncured, free of sugar and nitrates, non-GMO verified, hormone free, made from pasture raised heritage breed pigs AND its whole30 approved!
- Click HERE to get in on this bacon goodness.
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For the Brine
- 3 cups water
- 3 tablespoons sea salt
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 cloves crushed garlic
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 2 inches fresh ginger, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1/4 cup coconut aminos
For the Pork Chops
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoons garlic ghee, or other fat of choice
- Combine all brine ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring the ingredients to a boil for 2-3 minutes until the salt is dissolved, then set aside and let cool.
- Once water has come to room temperature, pour it into a large bowl along with the pork chops. Let brine for at least 30 minutes and up to 4 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 350 F.
- Add ghee to a cast iron and heat over medium-high.
- Remove the pork chops from the brine, pat dry, and season with salt and pepper on both sides. Add the pork chops to the pan and cook for 3-4 minutes, until browned, then flip and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes, until slightly browned (they will continue to brown in the oven) then place in oven to cook for an additional 10 minutes.
- Remove pork chops from oven and let rest for 5-10 minutes.