Pork meat if not the most commonly consumed meat around the globe, is among the most commonly consumed meat worldwide. Not now, not yesterday, but for a long time now for there is evidence of pigs being reared as far back as 5000 BC. And why rear pigs if not for its meat.
So pork meat has been around for a very long time now and so is the popularity, especially among the western parts of the world. You can find pork delicacies on menus in Asian cuisines mostly in china. Amidst its popularity, pork meat is close to illegal in some areas, since some religions like Islam and Judaism forbid it. Well, that’s not why we are here. Let’s go straight to the point…
But pork meat is high in many minerals and vitamins and as such is widely consumed regardless. Pork chops are prepared in many different ways depending on what is available and the preference of the cook.
But regardless of how you want to prepare your chops, you have to be sure it is properly cooked.
If you are wondering at what temperature pork chop is done or properly cooked? You should know that pork meat is one of the leanest meats offering very little fat. As a result, while cooking pork meat, there is a high possibility that the pork chops will lose a lot of moisture and run dry thereby becoming overcooked.
So you have to be temperature conscious when cooking pork chops. That does not mean you should cook it at a very low temperature as this might not be enough to kill all the harmful organisms that might be in the meat.
The safe temperature for cooking fresh pork meat to doneness is 145 degrees Fahrenheit. At this temperature, the heat is enough to kill the organisms that might cause harm, ensure the meat is properly cooked while still preserving the flavor, juiciness, and tenderness of the meat.
This temperature is perfectly safe, recommended by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), contrary to the former temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit that was standard in the 1990s and 2011 because of Trichinella, a parasitic worm in pork.
For precooked pork chops, however, they should be heated to a temperature of 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
Juicy pork chops
Now, preserving the juiciness of your pork chop is a matter of skills and timing. Some people prefer their pork meat to be very juicy full of moisture, while some prefer it to be just juicy enough but not dried out.
The fact that pork does not necessarily need to be cooked to a properly done state to be safe to eat is an added advantage for those who want the more juicy pork. You just need to cook to the recommended internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit and you are good to go, safe to eat.
So how do you come up with a more juicy pork chop? Easy. The more you cook your pork chops, the more the moisture within gets dried out as they evaporate with the heat. If you are going for a more juicy pork chop, the goal is to cook it for as little time as possible.
How to get make your pork chops juicy
I do not have to start reminding you how nice it is to bite down on a piece of soft succulent juicy pork meat and feel the tasty juice within excite your taste bud.
Well, I just did, and you know exactly what I mean. Cooking your pork chops too much will dry them up. So instead of drying out the moisture in your pork chops by overcooking them, you can make your pork chops juicy by cooking them to an almost done state.
Cook them till they get to an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit and you are good to go. And yes, it is safe to eat too if that is what you want to ask. Pork does not have to be cooked to a done state to be safe to eat. Your internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit is a safe standard already.
Another thing to do to make your pork chops juicy when preparing your pork delicacies is to rest them. Allowing your pork chops to sit for minutes after cooking them is very important.
The few minutes you give your ready-to-eat pork chops to rest before slicing into them gives it the chance to reabsorb the moisture that is clustered in its middle. Heat pushes the moisture from the exterior of the pork chop towards the center during cooking.
Think of evaporation, heat makes the moisture steam, and then the vapor rises within it and condenses in the cooler middle leaving the area going away from the middle getting drier till it ends up at a crisp exterior.
Resting allows this moisture gathered at the middle to distribute back within the meat. Cutting into the meat without allowing it to rest first will cause the moisture within it to sip out and be lost, leaving you with a dry pork chop.
So to have the juiciest bites possible, allow your cooked and ready-to-eat pork chops to rest, say for 2 to 3 minutes as you do not want it to stay too long and get cold.
How To Tell If Pork Chops Are Done
Cooking your pork chops to a nearly done state to keep it juicy is an understandable and also nice technique to have the perfect pork bite. Undercooked pork chops, on the other hand, are not just unsafe to eat, but also not going to bite well and have the desired flavor too.
As much as you do not want dry pork chops, you also do not want to eat warm raw pork meat. So let us look at the different ways you can tell when your pork chops are done and okay to eat.
The surest way of ensuring your pork chop is done when cooking is by using a thermometer. By sticking a thermometer in the thickest part of the meat, you can read the internal temperature to know if it has gotten to the safe-to-eat temperature.
To know if your pork meat is well done, cook your pork chop until the internal temperature reads 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Anything beyond this temperature is leading towards overcooking.
If you are going for a near-done pork chop, cook to a minimum internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit as recommended by the United States Department of Agriculture, USDA. This temperature is the minimum internal temperature meat has to reach to be classified as safe to eat.
Now, depending on how juicy you want your pork chops to be, you can choose an internal temperature between 145 to 160 degrees Fahrenheit to cook your meat.
Another way of telling if your pork chops are done is from the color. Although this is hard to tell as the external color varies depending on the method you are using to cook, it can still come in handy in cases where there are no other alternatives.
Boiling your pork chops on your cooker, or heating them in the oven, causes a lot of steam to go through the chops. When the pork chops are done, the outside color will be golden brown. The inside too will show similar color, but not as much as the color on the outside.
Grilling scorches and whitens the outside leaving the inside still pink. When it is done, the outside is supposed to be greyish-white in color.
At what temperature do I bake pork chops?
Baking is a method of preparing food with dry heat. And as you know is mostly done in an oven.
Following the USDA recommendation of cooking chops, and other meaty pieces to an internal temperature of 145° F, and the recommended three-minute rest. Pork chops should always be cooked to 160° F to fully accommodate this rest period.
You can bake at different temperatures, offering you different cooking times. A good advantage is that you can rest them in the oven by leaving the oven door open about 30% for about 3 to 5 minutes before serving. This keeps them safe.
The temperature of your oven determines how long you should bake. Let us look at some of them.
How long do you bake pork chops at 350°F?
Baking your pork chops is different grilling or boiling them. You get to blast the heat on all sides of the pork at the same time and set your cooking temperature. At a temperature of 350 degrees Fahrenheit, the heat is way high and should take about 25 to 45 minutes in the oven to cook properly.
However, it depends on the size and nature of your pork chops. Very thin pieces of pork chops say a quarter of an inch, will cook faster, taking from 25 minutes to not more than 35 minutes to be ready.
Below this size will require lesser time. Thicker pieces, however, might need to stay in for up to 45 minutes to be ready to eat. These are cooking times for boneless pork chops.
For pork chops containing bones, a little more time is needed, so and an extra 5 minutes to the cooking time and you are good to go.
How long to bake pork chops at 375 degrees°F?
Baking at 375 degrees Fahrenheit should take your pork chops about 30 to 35 minutes to get above the USDA recommended internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit. This is for boneless average-sized pork chops. Bake for an extra 10% of the cooking time if it contains bones.
Baking at 400 degrees Fahrenheit
The more the preheated temperature, the lesser the baking time. You have noticed, right? At 400 degrees Fahrenheit, you bake your boneless center-cut pork chops for 15 to 20 minutes to get to 145 degrees and above.
And do not forget to add your extra 10% of cooking time for bone-in pork chops. Or just preheat to 475 degrees Fahrenheit if you want to meet up with 25 minutes of cooking time instead of adding an extra 10% cooking time.
What is the 4-hour 2-hour rule?
Food as a whole requires careful preparation and preservation to keep them in a good and safe-to-eat condition. If not, they will get spoiled and cause food poisoning.
Your pork chops are not left out. Keep them wrongly, and you might be visiting the doctor sooner than you expected. A huge part of keeping edibles safe is controlling the temperature to suppress the growth of bacteria which tend to grow at certain temperatures.
By now, you must have heard about the temperature danger zone, a temperature range between 40 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit (5 to 60 degrees Celsius) according to the Food Standard Agency (FSA).
At this temperature, range food is at risk the most of developing harmful bacteria and causing illness to whoever consumes them. So the FSA recommends you might want to keep your food out of this zone either by freezing or heating it.
Below 8°C bacteria growth is greatly slowed down and it becomes harder for them to multiple as the temperature drops. Hence the recommended 5°C temperature is a good bacteria inhabiting temperature.
As it goes above this, it gets warmer, and bacteria love warm temperatures. Multiplying very fast between 20 to 50 degrees Celsius, especially at 37°C. However, if you are heating, go well beyond 70°C to kill and remove existing bacteria.
Within the danger temperature range, bacteria growth continues or begins, and you never know what is giving birth to what or who is moving into your pork chops. Better not to find out still.
Ao if you are freezing your food, it should always be kept below 40°F and cooked hot food should be kept above 140°F. Now, keeping your food away from this range of temperature is not going to be always that easy looking at the fact that, you have to bring frozen food out and thaw them before cooking.
And even after cooking, not everybody likes hot food, the possibility of entering the danger zone is always there. But hey! Stop freaking out, bacteria grow fast but take time to get to a harmful number, and that is why we have the 4-hour 2-hour rule.
The 2-hour/4-hour rule is a good way to be sure your food is still safe to eat even when it is out of refrigeration and within the danger zone. Scientifically checked and proven, this rule is based on the rate at which microorganisms multiple in food with the danger zone.
So it is possible to hold food between 5°C and 60°C for short and measured periods without them going bad and significantly increasing the risk of food poisoning.
You can freeze to below 5°C or heat to above 60°C food that has stayed in the danger zone for less than 2 hours and will still be safe to eat when brought out later. This includes preparation time plus storage and display.
While you can still bring it out and use it again, the total time spent in the temperature zone should not exceed 4 hours. However, the total time in the temperature danger zone must not be longer than 4 hours.