This Quick, 3-Ingredient Marinade Is the Secret to the Juiciest Grilled Pork Chops Imaginable
Does everybody have those foods or dishes that, as a child, you were convinced you hated — but in your adulthood, you've come to find that you actually enjoy? For me, a grilled pork chop is at the top of that list. I can vividly remember the childhood heartbreak of realizing that my dad had the grill fired up for a pork chop dinner. Noooo. To me, they were dry, flavorless, and tough to chew. Sorry, Pops...but no, thank you.
Listen, I am not here to throw my dad's cooking under the bus (after all, he has taught me so many things), but it wasn't until culinary school that I truly understood the beauty of a simply-grilled pork chop. When I learned that we were making pork chops at school that day, I was immediately filled with dread, because I knew it was a cut of meat that I wasn't excited about. However, the results were nothing like what I remembered — instead, the chops were juicy, super flavorful, and tender as could be. What had I been missing all this time?!
How to Brine Pork Chops
So, how did we take a cut of meat that I once assumed to be boring and unpleasant and transform it into one that's mouth-wateringly delicious? A simple brine was all it took. For about 2 large pork chops (you can use bone-in or boneless), this is how it's done. You'll mix about 2 cups of water with ¼ cup of kosher salt and ¼ cup of granulated sugar until everything is dissolved. If you want to get fancy with your brine, you can throw it over some heat and steep in flavors from peppercorns, bay leaves, cinnamon sticks, herbs, or garlic cloves.
Next, you'll add the pork chops and brine (if you heated it, allow the brine to cool first) into a shallow dish and let it sit for at least 30 minutes, or up to 8 hours. (Note: We only marinaded the chops for 30 minutes in culinary school and the results were far from disappointing). If the chop isn't fully submerged in the brine, flip it over half way through marinating/brining.
Once the pork chop is finished brining, you'll remove it from the solution and pat it dry. From here, you can get as creative as you please with spices and other seasonings. Make a paste with your favorite ground spices (cumin, paprika, and chili powder would all be great) and some oil, then rub it on the chops. Throw your seasoned chops on a hot grill, grill pan, or cast iron skillet until they're lightly browned and reach an internal temperature of 145°F. For 2-inch-thick chops, this is about 4-6 minutes per side. Let your pork chops rest for half their cooking time before slicing or chomping directly into 'em.
Behold, a juicy, never dry, dinner. I'm going to call my dad now and tell him that I love him. And I'm also going to tell him about this brine.