We tested 3 different grilling techniques for this how to grill pork chops post. So we could test what is actually the best way to grill them. Every recipe we had found called for searing the pork chop then finishing it over indirect heat. Since this is the way I grill almost any small item we never called into question weather or not it was right or not. Chops grilled using this technique tend to turn out with a texture and taste similar to a beef strip steak.
It is important to note here that the pork chops we used were 3/4 to 1 inch thick and from the same package. A larger pork chop may grill up differently for you.
The three techniques we used were: grilling it directly over the flame from start to finish, searing the outside then moving to indirect heat, and indirect heat from start to finish. All of the chops were grilled until the internal temperature was 155. They were then placed on a plate and tented with tinfoil for about 5 minutes. This allowed our chops to reach the USDA recommended 160 degrees. Since this article was written the USDA lowered the recommended temp for pork to 145 degrees.
Direct Heat: The chops that were cooked directly over the flame the entire time were the first ones done. During the grilling process you could see them shrink, they took to the finishing sauce well sucking it up almost as fast as I could brush it on. The finished product was the toughest and driest of the three variations and also the blandest of the bunch.
The pork chops used for this experiment were all about 1 inch thick and marinated in an Italian salad dressing and spice mixture for 24 hours before grilling. At the end of the grilling process they were all coated with a barbecue sauce type mixture.
Direct then Indirect: These cooked in a very similar way to the chops cooked over direct heat from start to finish. These chops did not shrink as much. The shrinking stopped when they were moved to the indirect heat. They also sucked up the sauce well. These were a little more tender, flavorful and juicy then the chops grilled over direct heat from start to finish, however the difference in all three aspects was minor at best.
The best way to grill pork chops:
Grilled over Indirect Heat: I placed these onto the upper rack of my grill for the entire cooking process, turning once. They only took about 5 minutes longer to cook then the other chops. When grilling with this technique the pork chops actually swelled up instead of shrinking. They actually grew approximately 25 to 30% in size. The finishing sauce would not stick to these at all. I had to apply several coats of sauce just so you could tell it was sauced. These by far, turned out to be the best of the three variations. They were tender, juicy and we could actually taste the spices from the marinade along with the sauce.
The Bottom Line:
Everything you have read about grilling pork chops until now is wrong! The only advantage that I can see to grilling them over direct heat is the grill marks. While the overall presentation of your dinner may suffer the additional flavors will make up for it.
Spices and sauces can really become the star of the show when they are not cooked out of the pork.
One Final Note: I really have to give the wife props for coming up with this idea. Pork chops are not something that we grill often frankly, they never turned out that well. This little experiment may have changed that.
aka Sultan of Sizzle
I have been blogging about and selling grilling tool for over 12 years. A Certified Food Safety Professional, KCBS member, award winning writer and have over 10 years experience in the food service industry.
“I have experienced some of the best food this country has to offer and nothing is better than the food that comes off my own grill!”
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