Pork chops have a reputation for being dry or difficult to cook, but changes in the U.S. Department of Agriculture's recommended cooking temperatures have simplified oven cooking methods. Pork chops can be safely cooked in the oven in less than 10 minutes. This shorter cooking time results in moister, juicier results. When shopping for chops, you have three options: shoulder or blade chops, sirloin chops and loin chops. Shoulder or blade chops have the most fat and are very flavorful. Sirloin chops, while not quite as attractive, are economical and very tasty. Loin chops are the leanest pork chops and are prone to dryness if overcooked.
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Brine the Pork Chops
Heat water to boiling and add salt at a rate of 1 tablespoon of salt to 1 cup of water. Stir to dissolve the salt.
Add any preferred seasonings, such as rosemary, peppercorns or juniper berries, to the saltwater solution. Allow the saltwater to cool to room temperature.
Place the pork chops in a baking dish or zip-top plastic bag and pour the brine over the chops. Refrigerate the brined meat for 30 minutes or up to 4 hours. This brining process isn't absolutely necessary, but it results in moister, more flavorful pork chops.
Cook the Pork Chops
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Heat some vegetable oil in an oven-proof pan over medium-high heat. Remove the pork chops from the brine and pat them dry with a paper towel.
Season them with salt, pepper and any other desired seasonings. Because they spent only a short time in the brining liquid, they won't be overly salty.
Brown the pork chops in the hot oil until crisp and golden on both sides. Transfer the pan to the preheated oven.
Cook the pork chops for 6 to 10 minutes, or until a meat thermometer inserted in the center of the chops registers 145 F. At this temperature, the pork chops will be slightly pink and juicy, but cooked through.
Remove the chops from the oven and set them in a draft-free place. Tent a piece of aluminum foil loosely over the chops and allow them to rest for 5 minutes. This resting time allows the juices to settle in the meat for a better taste and texture.
- Meat: A Kitchen Education; James Peterson
- The Kitchen: How to Cook Tender & Juicy Pork Chops in the Oven
- USDA: Fresh Pork From Farm to Table