Pork chops are an extremely versatile, and of course, delicious meat, easy to cook in a variety of ways, and today’s pork is a low fat, high protein substitute for red meat. Almost everyone has heard the phrase “pork, the other white meat.”

Years ago, pork used to carry a parasite called trichinosis,  but there is really no need to fear this today because of new ways of growing and handling pork in the USA.  Still, all pork should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees farhenheit. Trichinosis is killed at 140 degrees.

There are various ways to cook pork, but no matter how you choose to cook it or whatever your favorite recipe is, you will always want to cook pork until the pink is gone and the juices run clear.

Cooking Pork Chops on the Stovetop

To fry, or cook, pork chops on the stovetop, you will need a large skillet, a small amount of oil to cook them in, and whatever seasoning is to your taste. You can use canola oil, olive oil, or spray the pan with a vegetable spray made for this purpose. It is best to thoroughly spray even a non-stick pan.

1. Coat the chops on each side with salt and pepper and/or your favorite herbs and spices. A few good choices would be rosemary, basil, or for a somewhat spicier taste, lemon pepper. You can find some good seasoning recipes at Cooks.com.

2. Put about a tablespoon of oil in the pan, tilt to coat completely, and turn the heat on to medium high. When the pan is heated, place the pork chops in the pan with tongs. Hold them tightly so ou don’t drop them into the pan and splash hot oil on yourself.

3. Cook for about 5 minutes for 1/2 inch chops, until the edges start to curl. If you don’t want them to curl, make several small slits in the edges before putting them in the pan.

4. Turn chops over and cook at least 5 minutes on the other side. Pork chops are done when the juice comes out on the top and runs clear. Remove from pan and place on a plate that you have heated in the microwave or oven.

5. If you’re using a heavy pan such as cast iron, you can turn the chops once when one side is cooked, cover the pan with a lid,  and turn off the heat. The chops will finish cooking because the heavy pan retains the heat.

Baking Pork Chops in the Oven

1. Heat the oven to 325 degrees farenheit. For a way to bake pork chops in the oven with an easy clean-up, line a baking pan with aluminum wrap and spray the foil lined pan with non stick cooking spray.

2. Season the pork chops with salt and pepper, and/or your favorite herbs and spices, on both sides. If you don’t want the edges to curl, make small slits in the fat around the edges, being sure not to cut deep into the meat.

3. Pour about an eighth cup of canola or other cooking oil in the bottom of the pan, making sure to coat entire pan.  For a real treat, use grape seed oil. It’s a little more expensive but worth it because it turns out a very tender juicy pork chop.

4. Bake on one side, turn with tongs, and continue baking on the other side until juice runs clear. Bake chops for about 15 minutes on each side for 1/2 inch thick chops, about 20 minutes on each side for 3/4 inch thick chops. Turn oven off and let the chops rest for about 15 minutes before serving to let the juices settle into the meat. Remove and place on a heated plate to serve.

General Kitchen Safety Tips for Cooking and Clean-up

1. Never walk away from oil that is heating in a pan on the stovetop, or worse yet, leave the kitchen. Oil  catches fire quickly.

2. If oil or grease does catch fire, cover with a lid at once. Never throw water on a grease fire. Always have a working  fire extinguisher available and know how to use it.

3. Always wash your hands before and after handling raw meat. Wash all surfaces that were touched by raw meat or juices. Never place cooked meat on a plate or surface that was used for raw meat without first washing in hot soapy water, rinsing and drying.

4. Refrigerate left-overs within an hour. Use within 2 or 3 days.

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