Last week, as I was pondering what I wanted to cook, I thought of a restaurant from my hometown. Kelly’s have the absolute BEST smoked pork chops. All it took was one thought, and my mind was made up. There was only one problem. Every time I cook pork chops, they never turn out. Never! It’s very frustrating, but I was determined to find something to help me improve my ‘skills’. I should also mention that my kitchen is far from the gourmet kitchen of my dreams. I would have loved to grill these, but I don’t have a grill, let alone a patio area to put one on. I immediately started searching the internet for how to make pork chops in the oven, and as fate would have it, I found exactly what I was looking for in a matter of minutes. The Kitchn‘s secret? Brining the pork chops. Coming across things like this remind me how much I still have to learn about cooking!!
I brined my pork chops exactly as they suggested, with one addition: I added two tablespoons of liquid smoke to get that smoky flavor I was craving. I had no idea if this would make a difference, but I figured it wouldn’t hurt to try. I left my pork chops in the brine for close to two hours. Once I removed the pork chops from the brine, I patted them dry and rubbed them with salt, pepper, and smoked paprika (just in case adding the liquid smoke didn’t work).
Here’s where I realized I had made my two mistakes. 1) I bought “mini” bone-in pork chops without realizing it (I hate feeling rushed at the grocery store) and 2) I had never used a cast iron skillet before and should have done a little research before using it for the first time. One of the reasons I have always failed at cooking pork chops is because I get very paranoid that they aren’t cooked all the way through, so to solve that problem, I bought a meat thermometer (I’ve been meaning to get one for a while now…).
Because my fear of uncooked pork got to me (even after using my new meat thermometer!) I popped the pork chops under the broiler for a couple minutes. This was my third mistake. The pork chops weren’t as juicy and tender as I was hoping for. The lesson I learned? Trust your meat thermometer! As long as you use it properly, you shouldn’t have anything to worry about. I definitely want to make these again, but with thicker pork chops. Oh and in case you’re wondering about the smoky flavor I was craving? It was better than I expected!!