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Ingredient

Pork Chops

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What is it?

A small cut of meat taken from the rib section, pork chops come in two readily available types: The rib chop—with the bone arching along the outer edge of the chop—and the loin chop, which has an interior T-shaped bone. Rib chops tend to be more marbled with fat, which adds flavor and makes the chop less likely to dry out during cooking. Both rib and loin chops are also sold as boneless; but bone-in varieties are usually more flavorful.

Don’t have it?

Veal chops, with their mild flavor, can often stand in for pork chops.

How to choose:

Look for center-cut pork chops. Thick chops (1-1/4 to 1-1/2 inches thick) are less apt to dry out during cooking. Whether thick or thin, try to avoid chops that are thicker around the bone than anywhere else—a common problem—because they’ll cook unevenly. If you can smell and touch the chops, freshness is easy to judge. They shouldn’t have any off odors. The surface should be moist but not sticky or slimy. The flesh should be fine-grained and reddish pink. The external fat should be creamy white and have no dark spots or blemishes, which also indicate advanced age.

Never buy pork that’s soft, pale, pinkish grey, wet, or that has a lot of liquid in the package, a sign of improper processing. Be aware that some producers “enhance” pork chops with sodium phosphate. While this ensures juiciness, it can also give the meat a spongy texture.

How to prep:

Because they contain little fat, chops need little prepping. For the same reason, they can benefit from a soak in a brine, a mixture of water, salt, sugar (and sometimes other flavorings) that helps the chops turn out juicy and moist.

How to store:

Refrigerate or freeze for longer storage.

Cross Reference

pork blade chop

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