Thursday, January 19, 2012

How are Pork Chops Caramelized and Cooked?

Pork chops are an inexpensive dinner option, but they can be a bit on the bland side. Spice up a pork chop dinner with a new cooking technique such as caramelization, which produces a delicious glaze to enhance the flavor of the pork. Use high-quality pork chops and always make sure that the meat is cooked all the way through. Pork should be cooked to a minimum temperature of 145 F.

The Pork

As with any pork chop dish, choosing high-quality meat is the most important step. Good pork is especially important for caramelized pork chops, which require pork drippings. As noted in the classic cookbook "Joy of Cooking," the center pork chops cut from the rib and loin are the tenderest chops. Choose chops that are about an inch thick. As recommended by Tyson, keep a thin layer of fat on your pork chops until cooking is complete, since fat increases the flavor of the pork chops and also provides more drippings to make the sauce.

The Glaze

During the process of caramelization, sugar is heated until it melts. Once the sugar melts, it's only a matter of time before it caramelizes and burns if the caramelization process is not stopped. The sugar browns and becomes chewy like caramel. Caramelized pork chops are basically just cooked pork chops with a sauce that contains sugar. You can use a wide variety of ingredients for your sauce, such as brown sugar, ketchup, vinegar, lemon juice or honey. For an oriental twist, add a bit of soy sauce or sesame oil. Always use the pan drippings in the sauce to enhance overall flavor.

Sauteed Pork Chops

There are two ways to make caramelized pork chops. Regardless of the method you choose, always marinate the pork to maximize flavor and make the chops as tender as possible. To cook the chops, you can saute them or cook them in the oven. Cook sauteed pork chops in a hot skillet with a bit of oil for about 5 minutes each side. Add the sauce for the last 2 or 3 minutes of cooking time. The sauce cooks quickly but don't allow it to burn. Cook over high heat to ensure that the sugar caramelizes.

Baked Pork Chops

If you bake your pork chops, put them in the oven for about an hour to an hour and a half at a lower oven setting, such as 325 or 350 F. Reserve a bit of sauce to go on top of the chops at the end of cooking time. When the chops reach an internal temperature of about 130 F, turn up the oven temperature to 425 to 450 F and spread the remaining sauce on top of the chops.

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