For too long, pork has been known as “the other white meat,” taking a backseat to summer grilling favorites like chicken and steak. But, according to Neal Hull of the National Pork Producers Council, pork is a delicious source of lean protein that’s not only tasty but amazingly simple to cook. Check out some of his insights plus our tips and tricks for grilling the perfect pork.
Keep Your Cool
According to Hull, the biggest mistake most people make when cooking pork is overcooking it. The best way to get a good cook on your pork chop every time is to start your grill on high and then pull the chops when they’ve reached an internal temperature of 145°F. Any higher and the pork will begin to dry out. If you remove the pork from the heat a little before it gets to 145°F, say 135°F, the heat on the outside of the pork will continue to penetrate to the center. This is called ‘carry-over’ cooking. Check the temperature occasionally after removing from the heat to ensure it reaches a final temperature of 145°F.
Take A Break
After removing the pork from the heat let it sit for 3 to 5 minutes. The larger the piece the more time it will need. This will give the meat a chance to ‘rest’ and the juices to redistribute through the meat.
A Fine Brine
An overnight bath in a brine or marinade is an excellent way to not only add moisture to pork but to also add flavor. To create a simple brine, combine ½ cup kosher salt and ½ cup sugar with 8 cups water, then stir until the sugar and salt have dissolved. You can add fresh herbs and spices to the brine as well. For a simple marinade, combine 1 cup soy sauce, 1 cup honey, fresh ginger and garlic in a blender. Ziplock bags are a great way to make sure the meat is fully covered with brine or marinade.
Get In The Zone
Try two-zone grilling. High heat grilling works well for thin pork chops, however, 1-2 inch bone-in chops or pork tenderloin require longer cooking times and therefore are best for starting over high heat to get a nice brown exterior then finishing over a lower heat. To do this, prepare your grill for two-zone cooking, placing the hot coals on one side of the grill and leaving the other side without coals. Season the pork as you normally would then place it on a well-oiled grill grate on the hot side of the grill, and allow it to sear for 2-3 minutes per side before moving it to the cooler side. Cover the grill, allowing the pork chop to slowly cook, turning occasionally until it reaches the desired temperature.
Council From The Pork Council
The next time you shop for protein, Neal Hull and the rest of the Pork Council want you to remember that pork is an excellent option. It’s simple, versatile, flavorful and difficult to mess up. Enjoy your pork with a side of fresh grilled veggies like zucchini, yellow squash or sliced onion to really let the pork be the star.