The Fast Track for Juicy Pork Chops
Pork chops seem like a great dinner idea in theory—they’re widely available and they cook quickly if you buy the thin ones (not the thick, fancy butcher shop ones). All of this means you can go from work to any-old-supermarket to food-in-your-belly pretty fast. But there’s a catch, because—like that free vacation in the Bahamas you got a voicemail about—if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. The catch is that pork chops can dry out easily. But not if you do it this way.
The geniuses in the BA Test Kitchen came up with a method that prevents dryness in a few ways: By searing the chop on one side, rather than both, you’re giving the meat less opportunity to dry out. Sprinkling sugar on the side that you’re searing is like an express track to flavor and browning, so you’re getting the job done in less time (again, less chance to dry out). And then, there’s the insurance policy: a flavor-packed sauce so rich (see: pork drippings) and tasty, you frankly will not notice if the meat is not as outrageously juicy as I’m promising you it’ll be.
First, buy 4 ½”-thick bone-in pork chops (that’ll be about 2 lbs.)—a relatively thin cut means it’ll cook quickly. Pat the meat dry with paper towels to remove as much moisture as possible. If there’s too much moisture it’ll steam rather than sear, and you want to get those pork chops nice and browned. Then season the meat generously on one side with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, then turn and season the other side generously, too. Then sprinkle one side evenly with ½ tsp sugar. Your best bet for even distribution is to hold your hand at least 10” above the meat and say “make it rain” to yourself while you sprinkle. It’s just enough sugar to get a nice caramelization—we are not entering candied bacon territory here.
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