As we continue the slow crawl to summer, the urge to fire up the grill only grows stronger. But this year instead of buying expensive steaks and unexciting chicken to christen your grill for the season, try learning how to grill pork chops. Though this cut sometimes has a reputation for being dry, when cooked correctly, the lean protein is moist and packed with flavor, straddling the line between those more common cuts of meat.
If you’ve ever overlooked pork at the grocery store when selecting your protein for that evening’s dinner you’ve been missing out. Or maybe you’ve tried it in the past and found that it had a dry, rubbery texture. If that’s the case, you need this recipe in your life. Grilled pork chops topped with a citrusy lemon-garlic relish and served with broccoli…need we say more? Follow along and you’ll be a pork chop convert in no time.
What are pork chops?
Pork chops are the most popular cut of pork, and they come from the pig’s loin (the meat that runs from the hip to the shoulder). It’s important to keep in mind that there’s more than one type of pork chop, and the name is different based on what part of the loin the chop comes from. At the store you might see names like sirloin, ribeye, top loin, blade chops, etc. The cut you choose is based on personal preference, but for grilling purposes pork chops cut from the sirloin are ideal for beginners. They’re easy to make and retain moisture well.
Should you leave the bone in?
You can buy pork chops with the bone-in or out. If you want to emulate the hearty, thickness of a good grilled steak, leaving the bone-in is your best bet. In addition to being a little huskier than boneless pork chops, leavng the bone in helps the protein retain its moisture and gives you a nice, even cook on both sides.
How to grill pork chops
Once you’ve picked out the type of pork chops you want to grill, the cooking process may begin! You should start by patting the chops dry to ensure a proper sear and then place them into a baking dish. Season the chops generously with salt and pepper and let them sit in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, but if you have time up to 24 hours is preferable.
When the pork chops are ready and the grill is fired up, arrange the protein in a single layer with space in between each chop. Cover the grill and cook the pork chops on one side for eight minutes, then flip and cook for an additional four to six minutes. When the pork chops are nicely brown and a meat thermometer registers at 145 degrees, you can remove the pork chops from the grill.
For this recipe, you’ll be pairing the pork chops with broccolini and a bright lemon-garlic relish. But you’ll need more than just one recipe to get you through spring and summer. For more grilling inspo, check out our easy grilling recipes for pizza, pork, veggies and more.
This recipe is by Jean Marie Brownson and was originally published in the Chicago Tribune.
For the pork chops:
- 6 rib-cut or center-cut bone-in pork chops, each cut about 1 ¼ inches thick and weighing 12 ounces (total 4 ½ pounds)
- 1 cup applewood, cherry or pecan wood chips for grilling
- Salt, freshly ground black pepper
- 4 to 6 cups small broccoli florets or 2 bunches broccolini, ends trimmed
- Salted lemon-garlic relish, see recipe
- Fresh herb sprigs, for garnish
For the salted lemon-garlic relish:
- 2 small lemons, scrubbed, ends trimmed off
- 4 to 6 small cloves garlic, peeled, crushed or finely minced
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme or ½ teaspoon dried
- 1 teaspoon coarse (kosher) salt
- 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary or ¼ teaspoon dried
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, optional
- 1/4 teaspoon each: freshly ground black pepper, crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
For the pork chops:
Step 1: Pat 6 chops dry and place in a baking dish. Season generously on all sides with salt and pepper. Cover loosely and refrigerate at least 30 minutes or up to 24 hours.
Step 2: Soak 1 cup wood chips in cool water to cover for 20 minutes or more.
Step 3: Prepare a charcoal grill and let coals burn until they are at medium-high heat and covered in gray ash (an oven thermometer will register 375F to 400F). Or preheat a gas grill to medium-high. Drain wood chips and sprinkle over the hot coals. Or, set wood chips on a double thickness of foil set on the grate over the gas burner. Cover the grill to preheat the grill grates thoroughly.
Step 4: Use tongs to arrange pork chops in a single uncrowded layer on the preheated grill grates. Cover grill and cook without turning for 8 minutes. Gently loosen chops and flip. Move pieces around as necessary to adjust for hot spots and so pork cooks evenly without excess browning. Cover the grill and continue cooking until the meat is nearly firm when pressed, about 4 to 6 minutes more. (An instant-read thermometer will register 145F).
Step 5: While the pork cooks, heat a large pot of salted water to the boil. Add 4 to 6 cups broccoli to water and cook, uncovered, stirring once or twice, until bright green and crisp-tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain well. Set aside uncovered.
Step 6: Remove the chops from the grill to a large serving platter. Scatter the broccoli over all. Spoon the salted lemon-garlic relish over everything. Garnish with herb sprigs. Serve.
For the salted lemon-garlic relish:
Step 1: Slice 2 small lemons as thinly as possible and pluck out the seeds. Put lemon slices, 4 to 6 cloves minced garlic, 1 teaspoon thyme, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon rosemary into a small bowl. Use a wooden spoon or clean hands to massage the seasonings into the lemon slices and release the juices. Stir in optional 1 tablespoon Dijon, 1/4 teaspoon peppers and olive oil. Pack mixture, including all the juices, into a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid.
Step 2: Refrigerate mixture for a few hours or up to 1 week. Use at room temperature.