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
|Rule #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.|
|Rule #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.|
|Rule #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.