If you want rich flavor and tender meat without using a full-size oven, use a little creativity to broil pork chops in a toaster oven that has convection capability. Thorough cooking is important for food safety, but overcooking your pork will make it dry — so you'll need a meat thermometer too.
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Choose Your Pork Chops
Pork chops are the pig butcher's equivalent of a beef steak — and because your chops can come from different parts of the loin, they're not all created equal. Rib chops, loin chops and boneless chops — all of which tend to have the tenderest and most uniform meat, and the least bone content — are the best for a quick-cooking method like broiling.
Thicker, bone-in pork chops are a good choice because they're easier to keep tender and moist — but if you're careful, you can add any of the aforementioned chop cuts to your favorite toaster oven recipes.
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Prep the Pork Chops
A quick brine can help ensure the tenderness of your pork chops. For a riff on a dead simple brine recipe, combine 4 cups of water with 1/4 cup kosher salt and 1/4 cup dark brown sugar.
Boil until the salt and sugar are completely dissolved, add 2 cups of cold water to bring the brine back to room temperature, and then fully submerge the chops in it for at least 30 minutes. For extra flavor, add a list of herbs recommended by JWU College of Culinary Arts: bay leaves, black peppercorns, thyme and rosemary.
You can add other flavorings to your brine if you want: Think pepper, garlic, brown sugar, and fresh herbs and spices — from ginger to ground mustard, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, and garlic or onion powder.
When you're ready to cook, remove the pork from the brine. Pat it dry and place it in a small oven-safe pan. If you have a broiler pan that fits your toaster oven, use it. If not, use the heaviest duty pan you have that will stand up to high heat, and stay nearby to watch for any flare-ups or smoking from fat. Depending on the size of your toaster oven, you may only be able to broil one or two pork chops at a time.
Heads up: Although you can bake pork chops in any convection toaster oven at a typical temperature of 375 degrees F, not every convection oven or toaster oven will have a broil function. If your oven does have a broil function, simply set it to broil, place the rack at the highest feasible setting and slide your oven-safe pan in and close the door. Try this LIVESTRONG.com recipe for oven-baked pork chops.
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Broiling Convection Oven Pork Chops
The USDA provides a rough, estimated cook time of 8 to 9 minutes for a 0.75-inch-thick pork chop, or 12 to 16 minutes for a chop that's 1.5 inches thick. Turn the pork chops once, about halfway through the cooking period.
But wait, there's a big catch: Using a toaster oven can throw off even the best of estimated cook times — and so can using its convection feature, which the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture explains may decrease the cook time by as much as 25 percent.
That's a potential double whammy of mistiming for a cut of meat that can quickly go dry if overcooked, or carry dangerous food-borne organisms if undercooked. So instead of going by cook time, follow the USDA's food safety guidance that any pork cut should be cooked to an internal temperature of at least 145 degrees F, then taken out of the oven and allowed to rest for at least three minutes before you cut into it.
Use a meat thermometer to check the temperature of your chops at their thickest point. If your chops are bone-in, take care to position the thermometer needle away from the bone.