How to Grill Perfect Pork Chops

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A Grilled Pork Chop makes a classic summer dinner for a low-key weeknight or a cookout with friends, but you may be inclined to shy away from it if you haven’t yet mastered the technique of making one. After all, in the words of outdoor cooking expert Fred Thompson, a badly-grilled pork chop “can be the most leathery piece of meat you have ever tried to eat.” This reason behind this, according to Thompson, is because pork is bred to be lean, so it’s easy to overcook the meat. To combat this from happening, keep reading for his three golden rules when it comes to grilling pork chops.

 

Fred Thompson’s Top 3 Rules for Grilling Pork Chops

How to Grill the Perfect Pork ChopsRule #1: Go thick, not thin. Don’t try to grill thin pork chops. Bread them and fry them, and they’ll taste great. But if you put them on the grill, they’ll cook too fast and end up tough and flavorless. Buy chops that are at least 3/4 to 1 inch thick. He prefers bone-in chops, like a gracefully-curved rib chop or a husky, center-cut T-bone, which cook more evenly and have more flavor than boneless chops.
How to Grill the Perfect Pork ChopsRule #2: Brine, brine, brine. Brining pork chops, even for a short time, provides a little wiggle room on doneness. If you are forgetful and cook the chops for a minute or two too long, the brine will help keep the meat moist. And remember to pat the chops dry with paper towels so they sear, rather than steam, on the grill.

 

How to Grill the Perfect Pork ChopsRule #3: Watch the heat. Pork doesn’t like high heat. Put a chop over a hot fire and you’ll end up with a tough piece of meat, even if you’ve brined it. Setting up your grill for indirect grilling is a good way to go. You can put a quick sear on both sides of the chop and then move it to the indirect-heat area for slower cooking.

Try one of his recipes—brined pork chops with grilled summer stone fruit—that makes the most of all of the above guidelines.

Brined Pork Chops with Grilled Stone Fruit

 

For the brine:

6 cups water

1/4 cup cider vinegar

1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1 tsp. dried thyme

1 tsp. juniper berries (optional)

1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes

2 Tbs. kosher salt

1 Tbs. freshly ground black pepper

 

6 bone-in pork chops, each at least 1 inch thick

6 ripe but slightly firm plums, peaches or nectarines, halved and pitted

Canola oil for brushing

 

To make the brine, in a large bowl, combine the water, vinegar, brown sugar, thyme, juniper berries, red pepper flakes, salt and black pepper. Stir until the sugar and salt dissolve.

 

Place the pork chops in a large sealable plastic bag and pour in the brine. Seal the bag closed, squish the brine around the chops and refrigerate overnight.

 

At least 30 minutes before you plan to begin grilling, remove the chops from the refrigerator. Discard the brine, rinse the chops briefly in cold water and pat dry with paper towels.

 

Prepare a charcoal or gas grill for indirect grilling over medium heat; the temperature inside the grill should be 350° to 375°F. If using charcoal, bank the lit coals on either side of the grill bed, leaving a strip in the center without heat, and place a drip pan in the center. If using gas, preheat the burners, then turn off 1 or more of the burners to create a cooler zone. Brush and oil the grill grate.

 

Place the pork chops on the grill over the direct-heat area and sear, turning once, until nicely grill-marked on both sides, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Move the chops to the indirect-heat area and cover the grill. Cook until the chops are somewhat firm to the touch or until an instant-read thermometer inserted horizontally into the center of a chop, away from the bone, registers 145°F, about 15 minutes more for medium.

 

Transfer the chops to a platter and let rest for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, brush both sides of the fruit halves with oil. Place the fruit over the direct-heat area and cook, turning once, until nicely grill-marked, about 2 minutes per side. Serve the pork chops immediately with the grilled fruit on the side. Serves 6.

 

Grilling authority Fred Thompson is the author of the book Williams-Sonoma Grill Master, which includes more than 100 recipes. To buy the iBook version, which includes exclusive videos, search “Williams-Sonoma” in iBooks on your mobile device.

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34 comments about “How to Grill Perfect Pork Chops

  1. Top Pinned Recipes 2015 | Williams-Sonoma Taste

  2. Carol

    I have been dying to grill pork chops on the grill. When I saw your recipe I couldn’t believe my eyes!
    can’t wait to make them. They look totally amazing…..thank you…..

    Reply
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  4. Eddie G

    Trying it now, don’t have kosher so using only 1 TBS of table salt. I feel like it should be more though, but I am afraid of it being to salty. Anyone have any luck with this?

    Reply
    1. Williams-Sonoma Editors Post author

      Hi Eddie: One Tbs. of table salt is about as salty as 1 tablespoon +3/4 teaspoon of kosher salt, so to achieve the same salinity levels as the recipe suggests (2 Tbs. kosher), you may want to try just a just a hair more than 1 Tbs. of table salt. Hope this helps!

      Reply
  5. Steve

    Going for thicker chops makes perfect sense. I haven’t had much chance to grill pork chops, so this is really helpful. By the way, the advice on going thinner for frying is 100% accurate!

    Now to find an excuse to try this recipe…

    Reply
  6. Mitchell

    Yes. This is a great recipe. It works very well but keep in mind that no matter how nice the grade of meat, a thin chop is hard to grill consistently while maintaining juicy freshness.

    My wife and son picked up a Wood pellet grill for fathers’ day and I love it. This recipe works well for wood fired or charcoal cooking.

    I have also used injection method to insert a mix of warm water and melted butter and salt. After sitting a moment they grill to a golden perfection while being perfectly moist. It does require more effort than normal though.

    Reply
      1. Tim

        The Injection Method consists of using an injection syringe to inject the marinade into the meat. You should be able to find an injector in better supermarkets or specialty kitchen stores. They don’t inject solids well so you should strain your marinade. Finely chopping fresh herbs, using a garlic press, pureeing in a food processor, and having strong hands helps.

        Reply
  7. Mark Fields

    Looks and sounds great so I can’t wait to try this recipe. How long do you recommend brining the chops?

    Reply
  8. Cindy

    Made these last night WITHOUT brining as I did not have the time. My husband wanted grilled pork chops at the last minute. They came out very nicely. I think what was key was putting the chops on the unlit side for 10 minutes. My chops were thick and in only ten minutes on the unlit side they came out very juicy and perfectly cooked. Had I had time to brine they would have had that lovely char on the outside, but I brushed the chops with a bit of honey and they had a sweet taste in the grill marks. The peaches came out perfectly. Great recipe and will brine next time.

    Reply
  9. John

    Great site and grilling tips!! I’ve been grilling for around 3 decades but only recently got into the world of low and slow. Man, what a difference!

    Reply
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  11. LoneDragon

    “Fred Thompson’s Top 3 Rules for Grilling Pork Chops”
    Not the late Fred Thompson from Law and Order? The senator that ran for president?

    Reply
  12. Tracee Porter

    Can’t wait to try this recipe! What would be a good veggie to go with it?

    Reply
  13. Ray Freden

    Great recipe, my brine is a bit different, but you have to try many to find the best for you.
    I use a digital thermometer and remove them at 135º and let them sit for 10min. covered.
    A little pink near the bone but you can leave that for a warm up later.

    Reply
  14. Carl Kinney

    You don’t add the peaches to the brine, do you? Also, should the peaches be peeled before brushing with oil or butter after grilling chops? Wondering what would be a good starch/vegetable to accompany this dish.

    Reply

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