Our pork chops tend to be lean and very meaty. This is because of how we raise them outdoors with lots of exercise. Why would you want fatty meat? I know chefs and culinary experts say that fat is where the taste is BUT on meat that isn't always true. Well raised meats like our pork and beef has the flavor in the meat, fat would add some more moisture to the meat but it's difficult to do when your animal is so active.
This can make cooking some cuts very different than you may be used to.
CENTER CUT PORK CHOPS
These are the classic looking chops of mostly "white" meat and a small bone. It is very easy to overcook and I'd like to teach you how to improve your pork chops experience.
Overcooking makes for incredibly tough meat and ruins the flavor. I can overcook a chops and have dozens of times. It happens when I walk away instead of staying focussed.
PAN Searing and finishing Pork chops.
I love my cast iron and yes I use it on my electric stove. It takes some tricks but we are all skilled enough to handle this. See me at the Farmers Market and I'm usually cooking over a butane camp stove with cast iron or a heavy stainless steel.
Pan has to be hot.
Meat has to be THAWED and room temperature.
Get a meat thermometer- found at most stores for about $10 for the most basic. You need one now!
2-3 Center Cut CREEKSIDE MEADOWS FARM Pasture Raised Pork Chops.
1" thickness. If using thicker chops adjust cooking time longer by 1-2 minutes.
Thaw your chops. Either in the fridge on a pan of cool water. Remove from package to a plate. Blot dry and sprinkle with salt and pepper. You can also coat it with olive oil before hand but I don't do this- chefs say to do it but...... it's up to you!
It can take 15-30 minutes for chops to come to room temperature. You just don't want it cold from the fridge. Make sure your dog can't nab the chops (been there!).
Heat the pan on the stove or in a hot oven. Either way is fine.
Add a splash of olive oil or lard, it will be shimmering when pan is hot enough. If you can't tell dip a tip of the chop into the oil . If it's a mild sizzle, it's not hot enough, if it's a splattering mess it's too hot. Find the middle ground A good zippy sizzle.
Add the chops, but leave enough space between them to they aren't crowded. Crowding can lower the heat they are cooking at which will cause them to sweat which is losing moisture which dries the meat out.
So they are sizzling away. It takes 3-4 minutes on the first side to get a good sear. Look for a nice brown- not too light and not burned. Flip over the chops and brown the other side. UNCOVERED!
Heat setting on my stove is usually around Medium high (7), Adjust the heat as you need to.
Now as you get close to that 3 minute time on the 2nd side, slip in your meat thermometer on the side and check the temperature. If you are at 145F. You can pull the pan from the heat. It's actually safe to eat at that point but it's recommended pork be at 150-160F. Once you remove the pan from the heat, remove the chop to a warm plate and tent it with foil. The temperature should rise to 150 on it's own. See meat continues to cook a bit when you remove it from the heat source. You will rest it for about 10-15 minutes- tented with foil. This will allow time for the juices in the meat to redistribute.
IF TEMPERATURE is not 145 you have 2 choices. Continue to pan cook it another minute or 2 OR place pan and chops in a preheated oven at 350F for a minute or two.
You need to be checking internal temperatures. I go no higher than 150 at the highest but prefer 145 and let it come up a little higher on it's own once removed from the heat.
It's easier to warm the chop up to a bit higher temperature and once it's overcooked it's done with. So go easy. And you can have chops ready in about 6-7 minutes.
Key thing is to sear each side of the chop just like you did in the pan. You want the chop DRY to start (or lightly coated with olive oil if you want to) A nice hot clean grill, sear each side of the chop and then remove to the cooler side of the grill to finish. I remove them at 145 - 150 F, tent and let them rest for 10-15 minutes. Slather them with your sauce before removing them from the grill.
I highly recommend a meat thermometer to avoid overcooking or undercooking. And don't do what I do and get distracted. Stay with the chop, time the cooking, use the meat thermometer and you will be rewarded with a delicious meal.
SEASONINGS: In my opinion chops don't need much seasoning other than salt and pepper. BUT any dry rub for pork you like will be good, I go light with these so that I don't smother out the great pork flavor. Any rub or sauce is there to enhance the naturally delicious pork flavor not smother it.