If you love pork chops, you are probably already familiar with the issue of thin pork chops drying out when you cook them. This can be a real challenge to avoid – you have to cook the meat for long enough to kill bacteria, but you don’t want it to lose all its juices and tenderness in that time.
How do you cook thin pork chops without drying them out? You can sear pork chops in a pan and then cook them in a warm oven to keep them tender, or you can marinate them before cooking them. You can also try roasting or slow roasting them. Allowing them to come to room temperature before cooking them can also help, and using a meat thermometer will make everything easier.
How Do You Cook Thin Pork Chops?
There are a few options for cooking thin pork chops successfully, but one of the most popular involves searing the meat in a hot pan and then cooking it at a lower heat than normal. The sear seals the juices into the meat and keeps it succulent and delicious.
To do this, you need to heat a large pan with a little olive oil in it. When the oil is hot, drop the pork chops into the pan; they should hiss and snarl as the outside cooks. Allow the underside to sear for a minute or two, and then flip the pork chop so that the other side faces down and sear that side too.
This action traps juices in the flesh by forming a cooked coating on the outside.
Next, heat your oven to a medium heat and place the pork chops in it to finish cooking. You can use a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the pork chop to determine when the meat is ready; it needs to reach 145 degrees F to be safe to consume. Below this temperature, bacteria may still be present in the pork.
Should You Marinate Thin Pork Chops?
Marinating is a great way to reliably keep thin pork chops moist and tender when cooked. You can whip up a marinade very quickly and easily, and most meat will benefit from it – even chunkier slabs of pork.
You can marinate your pork chops in whatever sauce you prefer, but most good marinades contain olive oil, sugar, herbs, and either lemon or vinegar. The acidic ingredient helps to soften the outside of the flesh and allows the marinade to soak in properly.
You should marinate your pork in the fridge for around 3 or 4 hours, or longer if you prefer. This gives plenty of time for the juices and flavors to soak into the meat and enrich it.
How Else Should You Prepare Pork Chops?
No matter what cooking method you are using, it’s best to bring pork chops to room temperature before you cook them. Going from very cold to very hot in a short space of time causes meat to seize up, and this often results in moisture loss and curling.
It’s always a good idea to rest your pork chops for half an hour after they come out of the fridge. Simply place them on a plate on the counter and allow them to warm. You do need to make sure you cook them promptly after they have reached room temperature, or bacteria will start breeding in the meat.
How Should You Cook Pork Chops in the Oven?
If you are slow roasting in the oven, you can use a basting sauce instead of a marinade if you prefer. Cook the meat in some stock or broth, and occasionally scoop this across the top to stop the surface of the pork from drying out. This is a very effective way to keep the pork juicy.
Be cautious of cooking thin pork chops in the oven without some kind of sauce, as this could cause them to dry out. If you have seared them in a pan first, most of the juices will stay in, but without the sear, they will evaporate easily.
Should You Choose Bone-In Pork Chops?
Opting for bone-in pork chops is another good way to keep your meat tender. The bone helps to prevent the juices from escaping and often means that the meat is higher quality. Select pork chops that also have some marbling across the flesh, as this will add flavor and juiciness.
High quality pork chops are less likely to dry out than low quality ones, especially if they contain some fat that can melt into the meat.
Why Do Thin Pork Chops Turn Tough?
There’s a risk of thin pork chops turning tough when they are cooked because it’s easy for the moisture to evaporate from the flesh. As the moisture disappears, the meat toughens and becomes chewy and difficult to eat.
The thinner the meat is, the more challenging it can be to keep it juicy and succulent, no matter how carefully you time your cooking.
Do You Need to Let Pork Chops Rest?
It is a good idea to let pork chops rest before you serve them. This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat and prevents them from leaking out all over the plate when you cut the pork chops open.
It might seem like you should aim to get the meat onto the table as fast as you can to minimize any further risk of it drying out, but five minutes of resting time can make a surprising difference to how the pork tastes.
You can rest the pork under a tent of foil to help trap moisture next to the meat, or you can leave it in a warm, turned-off oven. Both of these will allow enough time for the juices to spread through the flesh and make the pork more succulent.
It can be challenging to cook thin pork chops without them getting too dry to be enjoyable, but it is possible. Various techniques, such as choosing bone-in meat and using a marinade can be combined with slow cooking or searing to maximize the juiciness of the pork.