Did I mention overcooked?
The key to NOT overcooking (or under-cooking) pork chops is to measure the temperature of the pork chops as you cook them. Pull the chops off the heat source BEFORE they hit their optimal temperature, rest for a few minutes, then serve.
Note: If you've got mad skillz, you may be able to wing it and gauge done-ness by feel, instinct, and/or extra sensory perception.
For the rest of us, measuring the internal temperature of the meat with an instant-read thermometer is the surest path to pork chop success.
What temperature are we talking about? The USDA has finally updated their recommended internal temperature for pork to 145 degrees F (down from 160 degrees F).
I still believe that unless you purchased your pork chop from a pile of human feces, 140 degrees F is fine for well done. If you like it a little pink, I'd go for 130 degrees F.
- Boneless pork chops (ideally, about 1 1/4 inches thick)
- Canola oil
Heat a medium cast iron skillet on medium heat. While the pan is heating, salt and pepper the pork chops generously. When the pan is just beginning to smoke, add a splash of canola oil to it, and spread it around to coat the pan.
Toss in the chops and cover them.
Sear the pork chops, covered, until they are lightly browned (this will probably take 2-3 minutes). Flip them over, and sear them on the other side until they are lightly browned (maybe another 2-3 minutes). At this point, insert an instant-read meat thermometer into the center of each pork chop to gauge done-ness. Make a note of the temperature, so you can gauge the rate of increase in subsequent measurements.
Continue to cook the pork chops, flipping every 2-3 minutes, measuring internal temperature on each flip, until the internal temperature reaches its desired mark.
For moist and tender pork chops, remove them from the pan when the internal temperature hits 125 degrees F. Place them on a cutting board and tent them with aluminum foil for 5 minutes, then serve immediately. If you're a little less sure about pinkish pork chops, wait until the internal temperature hits 130 degree F, and then pull them to rest under aluminum foil for 5 minutes before serving.