Not all pork chops are created equal. There are bone-in, boneless, thick and thin. Just keep in mind that no matter what you end up picking, grilling pork chops on a Char-Broil TRU-Infrared grill will give you TRU-ly tasty and juicy results every time. But, before you hit the grill, check out these pork chop-picking pointers.
Bone-in vs. Boneless
Pork chops are one of America’s favorite items to grill.They are cut from the loin that is located from the hip to the shoulder of the pig. Here, we discuss two of the more popular choices: the T-bone pork chop and the center-cut pork chop. Both are from the loin. These selections are perfect for brining, marinades and dry rubs.
BONE-IN: The T-Bone pork chop comes from the center to the lower back of the pig. They have a t-shaped bone that includes a bit of the tenderloin meat. These are awesome on the grill and always flavorful. Some people say that meat cooked on the bone is better. The t-bone holds true to this theory. These have a whole lot of meat and are perfect for the big eater in your family.
BONELESS: Center-cut pork chops are located towards the head of the loin, above the loin chops. Sometimes you will see these cut into 1/4 to 2-inch thick chops. These tend to be on the leaner side of pork chop choices. They are also called the America’s cut. Know who you are cooking for and buy what is appropriate.
Pork Chop Selection Tips
- Color and appearance: The color of the meat should be pale pink. Never buy pork that appears iridescent. The fat should be bright white; it should never be yellow or brown. For bone-in chops, the bone should look fresh. The end of the bone should be red and white and there should be no discoloration or brownish hue anywhere. For boneless chops, you should have a uniform fat cap around half of the chop. These should be less fatty and they should be cut uniformly.
- Fat: Some fat should be speckled throughout the chop. This is called marbling.
- Smell: Chops should always smell fresh. There should be no foul or strong odor present.
- Pre-packaged: Always pick a pre-cut chop that has no tears in the package. Look at the date. Try and find chops that are as many days from expiration as you can. The fresher the better. There should be no liquid in the bottom of the package and there should be no appearance of a slimy film. The flesh should be moist and bounce back when you press on it.
- Custom cuts: If you are selecting from a butcher case, always ask to see the chops before they are wrapped. You want to smell them and look at them to ensure optimal freshness. Tell the butcher what you plan to do with them. Your butcher will guide you on what you need. If you don’t see what you want – ask for help.
These are some good-looking center-cut chops – take note of the slight marbling and pale pink color.
These T-bone pork chops are pretty stellar too…the bone looks fresh and the fat is bright white…
Handling and Storage
Freezing: Once you have purchased your pork chops, if you are not going to eat them right away – freeze them. You can freeze them in the packaging or take them out and freeze them in a freezer bag.
Thawing: It’s best to defrost in the refrigerator. You should take the pork chops out the night before you plan to cook them. Most thick chops will defrost in 12-14 hours. If brining, allow for an additional 4-12 hours of time before cooking. (See Brined BBQ pork chop recipe). Once thawed, defrosted pork chops will keep refrigerated for 2-3 days.
Cooking Temperatures and Time
Most pork produced today tends to be on the lean side and lean pork should never be overcooked because it may dry out. However, this is not usually a problem for those who own a TRU-Infrared as they produce juicier food. It’s still not recommended to overcook. We recommend that you use a digital thermometer to check temperatures. Digital ones are easier to read, but a regular thermometer will work too. Grill your pork chops over medium to high heat on your TRU-Infrared. The USDA recommends an internal temperature of 145 degrees with a three-minute “rest time” before consuming.
A pork chop that is approximately ¾ to 1-inch thick will take approximately 8-10 minutes to grill. Extend that time for thicker cuts. Also consider marinades/glazes and dry rubs to add flavor and increase juiciness.
Anything you grill will continue to cook after you remove it from the grill – usually by a few degrees. This is called “carryover cooking.” Allow your grilled meats to rest after removing from the grill. Place meat on a plate away from any heat. Letting the meat rest also allows the meat to redistribute its juices and allows the meat to relax. The result is a more tender and juicy finished product.
Labeling: What’s it all about?
The pork industry has created some of the leanest meat available. There are also niche products available and labeling can be confusing. You’ll see the terms: local, organic, heritage, range free, hormone-free, no antibiotics, etc. For more information on labeling of pork products visit: Pork Be Inspired.
One thing to keep in mind is that no matter the label, it needs to be as fresh as possible. You’ll pay more for some of these other categories and distinctions – for the most part it’s a matter of choice and preference. Give them a try…compare and contrast. Find what works for you and your family.