Mom’s Perfect Pork Chops

Sometimes the best food is really the simplest. We experiment frequently with different ways of preparing pork chops, but the way we have pork chops most regularly is with a simple dry rub and pan frying.

My mother’s been making chops this way for years. We use a dry rub of my father’s, which requires some advance preparation (when you make some, you make more than you need than for just a few pork chops).

If we are out of the dry rub, mom typically uses a bit of paprika, salt and pepper to season the chops.

Mom’s Perfect Pork Chops Recipe

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4-6, depending on the thickness of the chops.
Yum

Ingredients

  • 4 pork chops
  • 1 teaspoon bacon fat, grapeseed oil, or olive oil (or other high smoke point oil)
  • Salt
  • 1-2 teaspoons of dry rub*

*Dad's dry rub:

  • 1/4 cup cumin seeds
  • 3 Tbsp whole black peppercorns
  • 1 Tbsp coriander seeds
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt

Combine cumin, peppercorns, and coriander in a heavy medium skillet. Stir over medium heat until fragrant and toasted, about 8 minutes. Cool slightly. Finely grind toasted spices in blender. Transfer to a small bowl. Mix in sugar and salt. Makes 1/2 cup.

Method

1 Heat a large cast iron frying pan to medium high or high heat (hot enough to sear the meat). While the pan is heating, sprinkle a pinch of dry rub spices (about 1/8 teaspoon or a little more) on each of the pork chops. Using your fingers, rub the spices into the meat. Turn the chops over and repeat on the other side.

2 Once the pan is hot, add a teaspoon of oil or fat to the pan and coat the bottom of the pan. Right before you put the chops into the pan sprinkle each side with a little salt, or you can salt the chops in the pan. Put the chops in the pan. Make sure they are not crowding each other too much. There should be space between the chops in the pan or the meat will steam and not sear properly.

Tip: Arrange the chops in the pan with the thickest, boniest parts towards the center of the pan where they get the most heat.

3 Sear the chops, about 2 minutes on each side. Watch carefully, as soon as the chops are browned, flip them. As soon as you flip the chops, if you are using a cast iron pan, you can turn off the heat. Cast iron holds heat very well and there will be enough heat in the pan to finish cooking the meat.

If you have chops that are a lot thicker than 3/4" (many are sold that are 1 1/2"-thick), you can put a cover on the pan and let the chops finish cook for 5 minutes or so (if you are using a cast iron pan and have turned off the heat, there should be enough heat if you cover the pan to finish the cooking of a thicker chop, if not, lower the heat to low and cover.

How do you know when the chops are done? Mom uses a touch test which with practice I've learned as well. If you wait until you see juice oozing out of the top of the chop, it is definitely done. Mom typically just keeps the chops in the pan, the heat is turned off, so the pan is losing heat. The pan initially provides enough heat to sear the second side. As it initially cools it is still cooking, though not searing the meat. After a couple of minutes, it's just keeping the chops warm.

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Links:
Vietnamese pork chops from Josh at the Food Section
Tandori orange spiced pork chops by Jaden of Steamy Kitchen
Pork chops in balsamic fig sauce from Closet Cooking

Showing 4 of 48 Comments

  • Jonathan

    Looks good…fast…easy. Pork chops are one of those funny things: Cook too long? Shoe leather. Not long enough? Thrichinosis. Yuk. That said, most pork can be safely served after cooked to around 145F – 150F. I honestly think anything past that and you’re hitting “shoe leather” territory. Personally, I like brining the chops in a kosher salt/sugar/water brine in a big ziploc for about 1/2 hr., then dry rub, then grill. And with a big, meaty chop, 1 1/2″ thick.

  • J.Ho

    Awesome! I also love simply prepared pork chops. I dust mine with granulated garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper, salt & freshly ground black pepper. Then I fry them up in olive oil! Yum!!

    Great site. I love it!

    Cheers!

  • Janet Moga

    This recipe came just at the right time! I had gotten some pork chops to cook for dinner and your email had arrived. Decided to give it a try and it was fabulous! Perfect. Served it with a mixed green salad and cous cous. Used some of the leftover rub for fajitas I cooked the next night. Thank you!!

  • Sassy J

    Elise–I’m just in love with your site. I feel like a kindred spirit–grew up in a family of 12–love to cook–have giant binders with clippings from NY Times, etc. own way too many cookbooks. I hope I’m not inundating you with too many comments–feel like I want to send you all my favorite recipes, since I will not get around to having a blog. Love all your other blogs–especially the graphic one with your 9 year old cartoonist.

    One of my favorite standby pork chop recipes is from Martha Stewart’s Cooking Lite (don’t love her–but love this book and her appetizer book). Season chops with salt/pepper/dried thyme. Press a fresh thyme stem in each side of chop. Brown in a little olive oil in a medium hot skillet. remove and add equal parts beef broth (Minor’s is the best–keeps in the freezer, easy to reconstitute, made from roast beef) and red wine (or even sherry). For 3 chops–1/4 cup each broth and wine. Reduce down and serve over chops. Delicious! I serve with a side of lentils and a green (broccoli rabe or broccoli, etc.).

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