For juicy, nicely charred pork chops, try this method, (which might seem unusual): Salt them, freeze them briefly, then brush them with softened butter before you grill them. Why these three steps? Salting the chops ensures they stay juicy, freezing them helps develop a crisp crust and adds valuable minutes to the cooking time, and butter accelerates browning and adds richness to the lean meat.
Here’s how you do it:
1. Cut slits about 2 inches apart through the fat and connective tissue.
Why? So the pork chops won’t buckle and curl when exposed to high heat.
2. Dry the chops, then rub them on both sides with salt.
Why? Surface moisture is the enemy of char. Rubbing the pork chops with salt draws out excess moisture.
3. Arrange the chops on a wire rack set in a rimmed baking sheet.
Why? The chops won’t brown unless their surfaces are dry. The rack lets air circulate so that both sides of the chop dry out.
4. Freeze until the chops are firm—no more than an hour.
Why? The cold, dry air of the freezer both evaporates exterior moisture and chills the chops’ interior so that they can stay on the grill longer.
5. Combine butter, chives, mustard, and lemon zest and refrigerate until firm.
Why? After the chops are grilled, the butter and seasonings will add fat and flavor to otherwise lean chops.
6. Wipe off any remaining exterior moisture with paper towels.
Why? In case the freezer missed a spot. The drier the chops are, the better crust they’ll have.
7. Spread softened, sweetened butter on both sides of the chops. The butter will harden on the frozen chops.
Why? The protein in the butter, combined with the sugar, accelerates browning.
8. Pour hot coals evenly over the bottom of the grill and heat for five minutes. For a gas grill, heat all burners on high for 15 minutes.
Why? The fire must be hot to char the chops without overcooking them.
9. Use a grill brush to give your grill a good scrub and then oil it.
Why? A clean grill grate won’t impart off-flavors to the chops. Plus, it helps prevent the meat from sticking.
10. Grill the chops until they are well browned, 3 to 4 minutes per side. The chops are done when they register 145 degrees.
Why? Precision—in this case determined by a thermometer—guarantees the best results.
11. Place some compound butter on each chop.
Why? When the cold butter hits the hot chops, you’ll have an instant bright, buttery sauce.
12. Tent the chops with foil and let them sit for a few minutes.
Why? The foil tent keeps the chops warm, while the rest allows the meat juices to redistribute, which translates into juicier chops.
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