Teach me about pork chops, please!

My wife and I like pork chops once in awhile. They’re pretty much the same, no matter what brand or where you get them. But every so often, we get a kind that has a different texture, almost like steak. They don’t need to be sawed to cut off pieces. They’re tender and juicy, and you could pull them apart with your fork. Then the next time we get them, they’re like the regular pork chops - more dense, and you need to cut them with a steak knife.

So have we been lucking into getting a specific cut of pork? Or is it random? Is there a type of cut that we could always look for that would have this steak-like texture? I sure like them (and I’m starting to salivate thinking about it!)

Any ideas?

This is a thread about food. It goes in CS, right? But it’s also a poll which goes in IMHO, right? Is there a forum for polls about food?

I always get bone-in center cut pork chops. I like them to be around 3/4 of an inch thick, possibly a little thicker. I find them to be quite steak-like if prepared well, especially over a grill.


The trick to pork chops is that today’s pigs are lean. Really lean. I mean super-model lack of fat lean. As a result if you just grab two hunks of pork and toss it on a grill or in a pan to fry it up its going to come out very tough.

You deal with this by marinating or brine your pork chops (the difference is in if you’re using acid or salt to do the work but both will have similar results). The ones you got that are juicy are probably pre-marinated but this is easy to do yourself.

Just keeping it simple, for example, you can put the pork chops in a dish with about a cup of soy sauce and a tablespoon of brown sugar. Pork takes in the fluids fast so you only have to do this for about half an hour.

This might be enhanced pork, which is pork treated with a phosphate solution. This results in a more tender and juicy product, although some people feel it gives the meat a spongy texture.

Enhanced pork must be labeled as such, but it seems that the labeling is often designed to make it hard to tell what you’re getting. For example, Swift sells two brands of pork products: Swift Premium Guaranteed Tender and Swift Natural Fresh Pork. The former is enhanced and the latter is not, but in my local grocery I had to figure out the difference by reading the packages carefully.

Just Some Guy is correct that today’s pork is really lean. This is especially true of the premium cuts like center cut pork chops. I’ve found that some of the lesser cuts, such as pork blade steak, are often not so lean and thus more tender.

We buy a big giant pork loin and cut it into chops. It’s tasty and you get a lot of good meat for your bucks.


[homer] mmmmm pork [/h]

If you can, buy them from a real butcher.As the name indicates, they’re supposed to be chopped. Many times, store and meat packers saw semi frozen lengths of pork chop, , which will leave little pork bone splinters, and the saw tends to destroy the texture of the meat, as compared to cutting*.
And if you buy it at a butcher, you can ask to have that rind of fat and skin left on the pork chop. Grill or fry it with that intact and if it grosses you out, remove before serving. The porkchop will be a lot more juicy and tasty.

*using any machinery to cut or slice meat is an abomination. Frequent your local butcher, if there is one, and help the business survive.

Thank you for the tips and suggestions! We’ll have to look into this a bit deeper, to learn what the differences are in the types they sell. I think we’ve just been going by the display and picking up a package because they’re pork chops. If we can find different cuts, we’ll try each one to see if there’s one that’s consistently of the more tender cut. And even though we’ve passed a butcher shop frequently in the seven years we’ve been here, we’ve never stopped there. That’ll be our next venture.

We don’t have a grill, and have always baked them, dipped in bread crumbs. Is there a preferred method of frying them?

It’s true about the lack of fat on grocery store chops. It sort of makes for a meat hockey puck!

Just don’t overcook them.

Rub them with vegetable oil, salt, and pepper. I think I’ve heard of sprinkling them with a teeny bit of sugar, too, to promote browning, but I’ve never tried that.

Fry them on medium high heat until one side is browned, 5-7 minutes or so, then flip them and cover the pan. It only takes 3-4 minutes on the second side, they’ll barely be browned on that side. Remember to cover the pan for the second side; keeping the heat in makes 'em cook fast without drying out. You’re looking to get them about 140 degrees in the center - much more than that, they’ll be tough. Buy an insta-read thermometer if you want to make things easy.

When you take them off the heat, let them rest on a plate, covered with tinfoil, for about 5 minutes; this keeps the juice in the chops, not spilling out onto the plate when you cut into them.

You can make a nice pan sauce while you let them rest; just add whatever you want - mustard, wine, beer - to the stuff in the hot pan, throw in anything that’s dripped off the chops on the platter, and whisk together over medium high heat. Let it reduce some, season to taste, and pour over the chops when you serve them.

I just go to the Chinese grocer in Church Street and buy a tub of barbecued pork. Usually me and the guys at work have a couple of pieces cold and then I take the rest home to stirfry with green veges and noodles.

Sometimes I’ll do a pork roast or ribs. I marinate the meat in a mixture of a cup of orange marmalade, a bit of honey, 1/2 cup of bourbon/Southern Comfort, juice of a lemon and its grated rind, tomato ketchup or chili sauce to taste, enough orange juice to get it to the right consistency. I tip out the marinade when I bake the pork and reduce it in a pan for use as a glaze in the last half hour of cooking.

The are great with Applesause…

I have to recommend pork loin chops as well. I’ve never eaten them (being a vegetarian), but I make them for my husband, and he loves them. He never liked the more typical “pork chop” that people think of and that I had while growing up, the hunk of bone with the small medallion of meat left once you get all the fat/gristle off, so when I told him I was going to make pork chops, he was somewhat nervous. Pork loin chops are large, typically have little fat, and if you buy it as a loin/loin roast, you can cut them - or have them cut by the butcher - to whatever thickness you like.

My experience is that the boneless loin pork chops can be drier and tougher, and the chops which are essentially a pork “T-bone” or “porterhouse” cut are better. The boneless loins look prettier in the package, but the T-bones are juicier.

I treat them like I do steak: I sear them in a ridged grill pan on both sides, then pop them into a 350-degree oven for a few minutes to let them cook evenly throughout. Tossing some sliced garlic atop them for the last minute of cooking is dee-lish, too.

Last time I made park chops, I made a Carolina-style barbecue to go on top. Worstershire Sauce (which contains soy), balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, brown sugar, a bit of maple syrup and, for heat, a few dashes of Smoked Chipotle Tabasco. Turned out quite good.

I agree with MGibson and Ferret Herder. My grocer, Payless/Kroger, sells whole pork tenderloins in a vacuum pack. Now and then, they’re on sale for a low price. I slice them into 1 1/4 inch chops. The thick slices don’t get dried out on the grill. They get wax-paper wrapped individually and put in a sealed plastic box in the freezer. The day before cooking, I grab a couple and put them on a plate in the refrigerator. About 16-18 min. on the gas grill, and we sit down to a wonderful dinner.

The favorite go-with at my house is foil packeted diced potatoes. (a variation on the old Boy Scout tinfoil dinner) Each packet gets 1 potato, diced or thin sliced, and some chopped onion, green bell pepper, garlic, and sometimes carrot. Starting with an 18 inch square of heavy-duty foil, PAM-sprayed, dump the veggies in the middle with an assortment of spices and herbs. Fold up the foil into a sealed packet. Grill for 20 minutes, turning at 10 minutes.

My butcher has been selling a boneless pork item that he calls “pork prime rib.”

We love it – it’s always tender and juicy. I just flour it and fry it in a little bit of oil.

I’ll ask him where the cut comes from – I suspect it’s pork tenderloin, or close to it. It’s bigger than a tenderloin though. I used to buy tenderloins when we lived in Seattle – they were about a foot long, about 4 inches in diameter. I sliced it, pounded it thin, breaded it, and made sandwiches. They can be roasted too.

I have no luck with center or loin cut pork chops. They always end up dry.

My recipe for incredible pork chops.

Start with bread crumbs (I usually use Progresso Italian style), mix in what spices you like. I use black pepper, cayanne pepper, cajun pepper, garlic powder, basil, oregeno, dill, tyme, sage, and whatever else strikes my fancy.

Beat an egg in a seperate bowl. Dip each chop in egg then roll in the crumbs.

Set the chops on a cookie cooling rack placed inside a cookie sheet (this is important). When done, pour the remaining egg over the chops then top each with a pat of butter.

Bake at 325 degrees for about 20 min to a half hour depending on thickness.

The chops don’t dry out as much as if you fry or grill.

At our store, there are 3 distinctly different cuts of pork available- one is your basic chop- hunk o white meat surrounded by bone. Another is boneless white meat pork- same thing, minus the bone. The one I love is the “sirloin” cut- it’s not white, it’s a red color. Has fat in it (not the kind you cut away, but fat IN it) and cooks up wonderfully and moist. I always get this red cut of pork and it’s always juicy and tender. I never get the regular white pork anymore because it’s so damned dry no matter how I cook it.

Tenderloins are good too, but the loin is a different cut. Loin chops will be larger, maybe a 4x2" oval. In roast form, I’ve often seen it presented as two parts of the loin, bundled together with string, which makes for a nice thick roast.

Some piggies are bigger than others, but think we’re talking about the same muscle. 4"X 2" is a typical slice of tenderloin, in the middle part.

Hmm, interesting info - with pictures! - at this link: http://www.foodsubs.com/MeatPorkLoin.html

Looks like they’re different portions of the same region. I’ve most often seen pork top loin roast/chops. The tenderloin I’ve seen is noticeably thinner but not extremely so.