Pork Chops

Don't be fooled: not all pork chops are alike. While one may be tender and only need a quick sear, others can be tough and require a good long braise. Why? Even though pork chops are all cut from the loin, there are actually four distinct cuts. Working your way from front to back, you can find the shoulder chops, rib chops, loin chops and sirloin chops. Shoulder and sirloin chops are both superflavorful but have a lot of bone and connective tissue throughout the meat, so it's best to braise them. Rib and loin chops are lean, so you should cook them both quickly. Food & Wine has plenty of recipes, no matter which cut ends up in your shopping cart.

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Balsamic Pork Chops

Balsamic vinegar simmers with caramelized onions for a sweet and sour velvety sauce for pork chops. Pounded to tenderize rather than flatten, the pork is seasoned boldly with black pepper before crisping in a skillet. Quick enough to pull off on a weeknight, this main course will impress guests, too.

Grilled Pork Chops with Burst Blueberry Sauce

Gorgeous summer fruit and grilling are at the heart of writer Nicole A. Taylor's Juneteenth menu. Here, she takes blueberries for a savory spin, blending the berries with shallots, thyme, and chipotles in adobo to create a sticky sauce that showcases the floral notes of the fruit, while red wine and balsamic vinegar add a tart backbone that brings the flavors into focus. This sauce pairs beautifully with almost any grilled meat; here Taylor spoons it over juicy grilled pork rib chops. Summer berries tend to be sweeter; if you're cooking this recipe with out-of-season berries, gradually add sugar as needed.

Herb-Basted Pork Chops

Rating: Unrated
Hot pan drippings and melted butter tease the essential oils out of rosemary, thyme, and sage, creating rich juices for basting pork chops during the final minutes of cooking. Thai chiles add heat to the dish; to dial back the spiciness, cut a slit in the chiles instead of halving them. Serve over mashed or roasted potatoes to help sop up the flavorful juices.

Spiced Pork Chops with Cucumber Pico de Gallo

Lately I have to coach myself through the meat department of my local grocery store. Take a deep breath, I tell myself. Stop scowling. Still deeply entrenched in the fat-phobic '90s, the pale, quick-cooking lean cuts of beef and pork outnumber the juicier, ruddier braising cuts three to one. And now they’ve even phased out my preferred 80/20 grind of hamburger, replacing it with ruby packs of lean 85/15 and leaner-yet 90/10. I lean on the bell, summoning the manager to explain to me why they’ve drained all the fat and flavor from the display case—phrased in a much nicer way, of course. “These days, people want lean meat,” he says with a blinking, open expression. He tells me about “heart-healthy” and “saturated fat” in simple terms, with the bottomless patience of a kindergarten teacher. In my small, admittedly food-obsessed social circle, small portions of richer, marbled meat edged out the large, plate-spanning lean ones about five years ago, but I feel suddenly out of sync—as if I’ve been transported 20 years into the past, when we spread margarine on our toast and trimmed all the fat off our steaks.So I pick up the pack of pork chops, which have been cut thin enough to hold an edge, and reconsider them. Cooking a single mammoth fatty chop and slicing it into juicy, pale-pink tranches to serve three people still seems more logical to me than overcooking one thin chop per person. I may not be wrong, but being right is a lonely game. I drop them into my cart. After all, it’s just a Wednesday night dinner, I tell myself. Let’s not be so cranky.On my drive home I think about how I’ll convert the thin chops’ deficits into advantages. Thin chops are quick to cook, which will give me time to make some interesting sides. They have a lot of surface area. If I blanket them with spices, char them hard on a hot grill pan, and top them with with a fiery cilantro-and-lime-loaded cucumber and Vidalia onion salsa—everything I love to use to garnish a taco—each chop will be one giant, plate-filling, griddle-kissed burnt end. In the kitchen, I spring into action, assembling the cucumber pico de gallo, then rubbing the chops with the mixture of spices I use to make homemade chorizo—paprika, garlic powder, a jolt of warm allspice—and throwing them on the hot grill. They smoke immediately, profusely, but I don’t give them any relief. I keep going until their tops dome, their undersides turn warning-sign dark, and I see the doneness creeping up the sides. I flip them over and cook the second side just long enough to find a platter to hold them, then whisk them off the grill.I sit down to the pork chop and zesty, fresh cucumber salsa sprawling across my plate and silently apologize to the meat manager for my earlier bad behavior. Next time, I’ll tell him that I’m a convert.  

Potato-Crusted Pork Schnitzel with Hot Pepper Mayonnaise

Rating: Unrated
It’s not a trick of molecular gastronomy that produces the shatteringly crisp crust on these butter-fried pork chops. The secret? Dried potato flakes, aka instant mashed potatoes. The flakes are made from dehydrated cooked potatoes and make a great gluten-free substitute for breadcrumbs. Be sure to look for hot cherry peppers, not sweet ones, to give the mayo-based sauce some kick. Slideshow: More Pork Chop Recipes 

Salt-and-Pepper Pork Chops

Rating: Unrated
Wilson Tang’s cornstarch-battered pork chops are somehow crisp and nicely chewy at the same time. The Chinese five-spice powder and white pepper sprinkled on the chops after frying are like a touch of fairy dust. Slideshow: More Pork Chop Recipes 

More Pork Chop

Fried Pork Chops

Resting the seasoned pork chops at room temperature for 30 minutes before dunking them in mustard-spiked buttermilk and herbed panko crumbs allows them to fry to juicy perfection in about 5 minutes. Slideshow: More Pork Chop Recipes 

Smothered Pork Chops

Rating: Unrated
Sweet smoked paprika gives a smoky, bacon-like note, to these saucy smothered pork chops. Slideshow: More Pork Chop Recipes 

Reverse-Seared Pork Chops with Apple Cider Pan Sauce

Just as with beef, it’s better to cook pork bone-in. While the bone won’t add flavor to your meat, it does act as an insulator, and there is less exposed surface area with a bone-in chop, which helps it to retain more moisture as it cooks. For best results, season the chops, place them on a wire rack set in a rimmed baking sheet, and refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 45 minutes and up to 3 days. Slideshow: More Pork Chop Recipes