Don't Grill Another Pork Chop Until You Read This

When it's time to fire up the backyard barbecue, what's your go-to grill item? An article by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel listed burgers, steaks, chicken, fish, and ribs as the top grill items, while a Daily Press piece on the top 10 foods for grilling also listed those same items and added shrimp, shish-ka-bobs, corn on the cob, hot dogs, and bratwurst to the list. (The Journal Sentinel deliberately omitted this last-named item since any true Wisconsinite comes out of the womb already knowing how to cook brats.)

Absent from both lists was the pork chop, but this is an omission that Dustin Green, Grillmaster at Weber Grills, would like to see corrected. He spoke with Mashed to share his top tips for grilling the other white meat, and assures us that if you follow his advice, you'll be serving up "juicy, tender, and delicious chops" fresh from the grill.

Choose your chops wisely

Perfect grilled pork chops start with a trip to the grocery store — or the butcher, if you're being fancy and have the bucks to spend. Green doesn't insist on using the finest pork from heirloom hogs fed only on French acorns, but he does say that the best chops for grilling are pale pink in color, have what he calls "modest marbling," and have fat that's pure white in color. Don't worry too much about the fat adding calories and, well, fat. As Green points out, "the fat will add flavor."

Green also allows that you can grill either boneless or bone-in pork chops, either one will work just fine. What matters is the thickness, as he insists that the chops will be at their most tender and flavorful only if they're at least an inch thick. "This thickness," he explains, "helps keep them from drying out during the grilling process."

Prep your grill and your meat

Before you start grilling, you've got some prep work to do. Grilling is never going to be the quickest, easiest method of food prep — that honor goes to picking up the phone to order delivery, with microwaving a frozen meal coming in a close second. Grilling, instead, is the preferred method of hands-on cooks who also like to spend time in the backyard, although the preparations you make ahead of time may take place both inside and outside the house.

Green advises you to ready your chops by lightly greasing them so they don't stick to the grill grates — "oil the chops and not the grates," he tells us, for best results. Season the chops after oiling them, since Green says this will help the seasonings stick to the meat. You might want to include some sugar in your dry rub since another bit of advice Green shared is that "the oil and any seasonings that include sugar will help with caramelization and color." Once your chops are oiled and seasoned, it's time to heat up the grill for 10 to 15 minutes until it reaches 475 to 525 degrees. "During this time," says Green, "you should also clean the grates with a grill brush to prevent the chops from sticking."

Remember to check the temperature

When you're cooking chicken, you have to hit an exact temperature — that temp being 165 degrees (via Food Network). Any lower, and you run the risk of food poisoning. Any higher, and it's likely to be too dry. Pork, white meat or no, is more similar to beef than chicken in that there are different degrees of doneness permitted. The minimal internal temperature your pork chops need to reach is 145 degrees for medium-rare (rare pork is not recommended). If you like your chops medium, go for 150 degrees, and if you prefer well-done, cook them until they reach 160 degrees.

The only way you can be sure that your pork chops have reached your preferred temperature is to use a meat thermometer, which is something Green highly recommends. You can use a digital one, a WiFi-enabled one that will alert you when the right temp is reached, or just a plain dial thermometer. Since you're grilling, you won't have to worry about heat loss from opening the oven, so go ahead and check the temperature of your meat as often as it takes or just leave the thermometer in place and read it every few minutes. Once the chops are done, take them off the grill and then, as per Green's directive, allow them to rest for 5 minutes before serving warm for a memorable meal you're going to want to repeat again and again as long as grilling season lasts.