Cook's Illustrated Pork Chops
For a pork chop recipe that would produce juicy, tender pork chops quickly, we passed over hefty chops in favor of 1/2-inch-thick, bone-in rib chops. For juicy meat, we placed the chops in a cold pan over medium heat, then covered them. Although starting meat in a cold pan sounds odd, if not downright weird, we found that this unconventional method was the key to a foolproof, quick-cooking, weeknight pork chop recipe.
In this recipe, “natural” pork chops -- not “enhanced” -- work best; the liquid injected into enhanced pork inhibits browning. Electric burners are slower to heat than gas burners, so, if using one, begin heating the burner before seasoning the chops. When cooking the first side of the chops, use color as an indicator of when to flip them; to determine doneness, use an instant-read thermometer -- do not go solely by cooking times. Serve these simple pork chops with chutney or applesauce, or try one of the variations.
- 4 bone-in pork rib chops or center-cut chops, about 7 ounces each and 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick, patted dry with paper towels.
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
- Salt and ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
Adapted from cooksillustrated.com
Prepare chops by cutting two slits through the fat and connecting tissue, about 2-inches apart from each other, perpendicular to the chop (i.e., across the short side, not the length, of the fat).
If using electric stove, turn burner to medium heat. Rub both sides of each chop with 1/8 teaspoon oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sprinkle one side of each chop evenly with 1/8 teaspoon sugar, avoiding the bone.
Place chops, sugared-side down, in 12-inch nonstick skillet, with the bony, narrow ends toward the center. Using hands, press meat of each chop into pan. Set skillet with chops over medium heat; cook until lightly browned, 4 to 9 minutes. (Chops should be sizziling after 2 minutes, if not, see note below, "Do You Hear What I Hear?") Using tongs, flip chops, positioning them in same manner. Cover skillet, reduce heat to low, and cook until center of each chop registers 140 degrees on instant-read thermometer, 3 to 6 minutes (begin checking temperature -- as shown in illustration 3 -- after 2 minutes); chops will barely brown on second side. Transfer chops to platter, tent with foil, and let rest 5 minutes; do not discard liquid in skillet.
Add any juices accumulated on platter to skillet. Set skillet over high heat and simmer vigorously until reduced to about 3 tablespoons, 30 seconds to 90 seconds; adjust seasonings with salt and pepper to taste. Off heat, return pork chops to skillet, turning chops to coat with reduced juices. Serve chops immediately, browned-side up, pouring any remaining juices over.
If you don't hear a gentle sizzle after the pork chops have been cooking for two minutes over medium heat, your stovetop is running at a low heat output. Raise the meat to medium-high to cook the pork chops uncovered. Then reduce the heat to medium-low instead of low, cover the pork chops, and continue as directed.