So let’s talk about pork. When you hear pork you may think of pork roasts (I love pulled pork sandwiches), pork tenderloin, pork ribs, pork sausage, ham and we can’t leave out my favorite pork product, bacon! Chicken and Beef are always front and center it seems like, so I thought I would share a little about pork chops!!! They are so versatile, easy too cook and so yummy! There are so many recipes that call for chicken that can be swapped out for pork! Fajitas, stir-fry, enchiladas, salads, tacos…. so many things that you can use with pork!!!
So I am going to share the best info I have (straight from the Butcher Man himself)!
The Butcher Man will tell you that there are different pork chop cuts but the 2 most common (and what he always sells the most of) are the Rib Chop/Bone-In and the Boneless Chop. They come from the same cut of pork but the difference is….the bone (obviously!!! You will hear them referred to by many names but let’s keep it simple and go with Rib Chop/Bone-In and Boneless. Your local butcher or grocery store should know exactly what you’re asking for if you stick to these two simple names for them! Both types should easily be found at any local butcher shop or grocery store!
RIB CHOP/BONE-IN The Rib Chop or bone-in pork chop has a bone that runs along one side. Many times a Rib Chop is referred to as a bone-in pork chop because of this bone. The Rib Chop is tender and lean with a mild flavor. While many don’t like the bone, the bone actually helps protect the meat from drying out while cooking and adds flavor to the meat because of the fat that surrounds the bone. This type of chop is delicious and cooked easily. You can broil, grill, bake or sear…or cook with sauce in a slow cooker all day and the meat will fall right off the bone!
BONELESS CHOP: The Boneless Chop (my favorite) is basically a rib chop with the bone removed. (You may hear it referred to as a pork cutlet, or pork filet and that is basically just a fancier way of saying a boneless pork chop). So here’s a little hint: if the price is higher on the Boneless Chop, buy the Rib Chop/Bone-in and trim it off yourself (which we will get into in a minute). This chop is lean, with very little fat, (notice in the photos the difference in the amount fat between the bone-in and trimmed boneless chop). The boneless pork chop is tender and has a mild pork flavor just like a bone-in chop, but he lack of bone means two things: it can easily be overcooked because the bone acts as a protection while cooking, and the lack of fat that you usually get with the bone means less flavor. Do not be discouraged….You can overcome both easily. Just because its boneless doesn’t mean you can’t make a great juicy and flavorful pork chop! You can grill the boneless chop, broil, or sear roast them. My favorite thing is to bread a boneless pork chop and cook them stovetop in a skillet.
TRIMMING (before cooking):
For best results, a thick cut pork chop with bone-in (Rib Chop) is hands down the best. The bone gives it so much flavor and leaves it juicy! 1- 1 1/2 inches is the perfect thickness for a thick cut pork chop so they won’t dry out while cooking. But in my opinion, there is a time and place for a thinner chop (we will get to this). Trimming is important, deciding on bone-in or boneless will play into this. The bone keeps the pork chop moist so for heaven sakes leave it on if you are seasoning the chop then grilling, or broiling. But if you are breading the chop, I suggest removing the bone.
Whether you leave the bone on or remove it, you need to trim off some of the fat around the chop. You need to keep about 1/4 inch fat all around. If you buy them boneless you probably will already have it trimmed and ready to use, just remember there won’t be much fat in a boneless chop compared to a bone-in (you can see the difference in the photos below). If you trim it yourself, after you trim the bone off, most of the fat is taken away, so try and keep the remaining fat around it on the chop. If you are grilling your chop, it is very important you trim it enough. You want to keep some fat on for the flavor, but too much left on will drip right off and cause flare ups on the grill, and you will end up with an unevenly cooked dry chop. So if possible, cook with the bone-in for optimal flavor, and remember a little fat is good, just not too much. Leaving the bone on is great (adds wonderful flavor) but can be removed as you like and I promise, if cooked right, a boneless chop can be just as delicious!
If you don’t want a thick cut pork chop and want it thinner, then pound that baby out! Trim the fat as needed. Remember to leave as much fat as you can around it like the photos show, and remember that there won’t be much fat left like you get keeping the bone-in, don’t panic, it will still be delicious! Remove the bone if there is one. if you are pounding our your pork chop the bone has to go! It doesn’t pound out good if the bone is in the way and the meat attached to it. If you insist on a bone-in pork chop, keep it the thickness it already is. To pound it out thinner, I put the pork chop on my cutting board and put some plastic wrap over it (so I can see what I’m doing and to make sure juices don’t fly). Then using a meat mallet (flat side, not tenderizing side with spikes), or anything heavy like a rolling pin, pound it out to an even thickness. Don’t go all crazy and pound too hard so you pound right through the poor little pork chop, just a steady light pounding. I usually pound them out to a bit thicker than 1/4 inch. You will see in the photos the before and after. I prefer them thinner if I am breading them. Tip: if you are trimmming your own and removing the bone to pound them out thinner, leave as much fat on them as you can because they will cook fast (a few minutes on each side) so the fat is needed! Watch them closely!
COOKING: Pork chops are just as easy to cook as a chicken breast! You can cook them stovetop, bake them in your oven with seasoning or breading, grill them, broil them, smoke them or throw them in an instant pot or crockpot for a seriously juicy and tender pork chop! It’s a lean meat, which we all love, but that means it can easily dry out and be overcooked.
Most people think you need to cook a pork chop like you would a chicken breast, cooking until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. But guess what? It is actually done when the internal temperature reaches 140-160 degrees with a three minute rest. The resting time is important because the meat will still actually cook for a little bit after it is removed from the heat. So let it rest and let all the juices settle in before cutting!
A meat thermometer is needed to check the meat and make sure it is done. There are many different types. The two meat thermometers I like best are a meat thermometer that you can actually keep in the meat while it cooks, so you can constantly check the temperatures without having to puncture the meat and let the juices escape. The other type I like is a digital meat thermometer because it is instant read and digital, so no second guessing where the line is. The only downside with a digital thermometer is you can’t leave it in the meat, so you have to poke the meat – which means you lose some of the valuable juices! Make sure you check the temperature of the meat in the thickest part (the thickest part will take the longest to reach the proper temperature) and make sure you are not touching bone or the temperature read won’t be accurate.
Check out this link for more information on cooking temperatures.
USDA Safe Minimum Cooking Temperatures https://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/charts/mintemp.html
Now for the good stuff! What do I do with these pork chops!?! I won’t post recipes here, but will eventually get them on the blog.
Here are some tips: always season the pork chop itself no matter what, even if you are breading it or just seasoning it and cooking/grilling it. I season pork chops with salt and pepper or a basic season salt or a bottled pork seasoning. I love Spade L. Ranch pork seasoning (I am not getting paid to say that)!
The Boneless Pork chops are my favorite because they are delicious breaded, and cooked on the stove in a skillet. I pound them out to a little less than 1/2 an inch but not quite 1/4 inch (see photo). Some will tell you that anything less than 1/2 will dry out but I promise you they will not if breaded and watched closely while cooking.
I use two different types of basic breading depending on what I am serving with the pork chop.
BREADING THE PORK CHOP :
#1 Breading (My favorite go-to breading): I love to mix equal parts plain bread crumbs with cornflake crumbs (you can actually buy a box of cornflake crumbs so you don’t have to crush them yourself and the flavor is amazing-more so than crushed cereal). I then add some seasonings in with the crumbs and a bit of parmesan cheese. This is a slightly softer crunchy breading, (does that even make sense?). Check out my delicious Breaded Pork Chop Recipe with a Creamy Dill Sauce that is rich and full of flavor! https://thebutcherswife.blog/breaded-pork-chops-with-creamy-dill-sauce/
When I use this type of breading I do a flour dredge first on the pork chop, then a dip in an egg bath, then dip in my mix of breadcrumbs/cornflake crumbs. (See photos) Note: you need to season all components! A little season salt mixed with the egg, some salt and pepper with the flour, and season the breadcrumbs/cornflake crumbs to your taste. I usually just add season salt along with the Parmesan cheese. It’s easy to get carried away with seasoning the bread crumbs because they have a touch of savory-salty seasoning already. So taste as you go! You will LOVE pork chops breaded this way!! The bread crumbs and cornflake crumbs give it an in-between texture that I love. I pan fry the breaded pork chop in a little olive oil and they are don’t in minutes! This breading is always my go-to and I use it when I’m in the mood for comfort food …a juicy breaded pork chop, served with creamy mashed potatoes and gravy is comfort food that will not disappoint!
#2 Panko Crumb Breading (seriously delicious too): This is the breading I love when I’m wanting it lighter. I season the chop with a little salt and pepper, then I cover the pork chop in a binding agent (this is what makes the Panko crumbs stick). I usually use ranch dressing, sour cream, or plain yogurt (depending on how “light” I want it or what I have in my fridge). Panko crumbs are delicious and crunchy but I always add a bit more flavor with season salt. Add a little at a time so it’s not too salty. I don’t season the binding agent because I am going for a lighter taste! I dip the pork chop in the binding agent then the panko crumbs! Easy as that!!! Then its pan fried in olive oil over medium heat. I eat a Panko crusted chop with a baked potato or roasted veggies…something about the crispy crunchy Panko always makes me want to eat it with lighter sides instead of mashed potatoes and gravy!
Always, always, always taste the components (except the raw egg) and season to your liking… before dredging, dipping, or breading! Don’t be scared to taste your flour after seasoning it, do the same with your breadcrumbs and Panko crumbs!! I don’t think I ever make a recipe and follow it exactly when it comes to seasonings. Trust your taste buds and season as you like it!!!
Either way you bread it, you will love it!! They cook up so fast, with a ton of flavor from the breading and the pork shop. If I am cooking the pork chop stovetop and frying (with or without breading), I fry them in a little Olive Oil (I like the Extra Light Tasting Olive Oil) on both sides for a few minutes…. on about medium heat (a touch lower if your stovetop cooks hot). Use the meat thermometer to check the internal temperature and remember 140-160 degrees is done, then let them rest for a few minutes.
If breading is not for you, try a thicker cut pork chop. It’s less work without having to bread it and you will love it! They are simple but so delicious, juicy and full of flavor! I like a thick cut pork chop the best on the grill or stovetop! Use a basic bottled seasoning that is made for pork or a bit of season salt. Cook the pork chop whichever way you choose. Use the meat thermometer to check the internal temperature and remember 140-160 degrees is done, then let them rest for a few minutes.
Grilling is fast and easy and perfect for summer! (Breaded pork chops do not work so well on the grill). Throw a pork chop on the grill on medium heat. A thicker cut pork chop will need 8-10 minutes per side. As always, check the internal temperature (like discussed above)!
For the easiest ever pork chop recipe…..I do it in the crockpot! They are delicious and easy! I have used both bone-in and boneless and they are both delicious! If you use bone-in they will fall off the bone when you serve them but the bone adds a bit more flavor when cooking! I throw them in my crockpot and let them cook all day. I cover them in creamed soup (I don’t use Cream of “Whatever” soups often but for my crockpot pork-chops I sure do, and they are delicious). I add in carrots and potatoes and green beans and they cook on low for 8 hours.
Pork chops are so versatile! A pork chop doesn’t have to be eaten only as a cut of meat, whole like a steak. And a pork roast isn’t the only way to get pork into other meals. You can actually use pork chops for a lot of things! When a recipe calls for a chicken breast, try using a pork chop! They are delicious in tacos, fajitas, stir-fry, enchiladas and so much more!! Give “the other white meat” a try!!!
Hopefully you got something out of this rambling post. Feel free to contact me at [email protected] if you have questions.
And look for a post soon for my breaded pork chops (with a creamy dill sauce)!
Loves, The Butcher’s Wife