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How to Cook Pork Chops without Disrespecting Pigs Everywhere

Love a big (well-cooked) hog in my mouth

So, you were feeling spontaneous and nabbed a couple pork chops from the store today. You wanted something fancier than your usual burgers and chicken breasts, a special treat to brighten up your evening. The only problem: You’ve never cooked a pork chop, not even once.

It’s okay — I’ll walk you through it.

How to Cook Pork Chops

While there are a variety of ways to cook pork chops, you’ll have the most success pan-frying them. It’s simple and effective. Here’s how it’s done:

  1. After taking them out of the fridge, let your pork chops come to room temperature on the kitchen counter for about 30 minutes. If the meat is too cold when you cook it, the outside will end up overdone and the inside underdone.
  2. Apply a generous amount of salt and pepper. Then add some more to make sure it smacks.
  3. Place your pork chops on a screaming-hot, oiled pan (cast iron holds heat especially well, but any pan works), then drop the burner down to medium. This should create a golden crust on the outside while still cooking the pork chops through.
  4. Cook each side for three to five minutes.

The tricky part is knowing when your pork chops are done. So… 

Can Pork Chops Be Pink?

That depends on a couple factors, including the quality of your meat. For instance, Joel Young, a professional butcher and multi-platform meat influencer, says Australia, his home country, doesn’t have Trichinella roundworms, parasites notorious for appearing in undercooked pork and making people really, really sick. Therefore, he says Australian pork chops are safe to eat, even if they’re a little pink.

Generally, we’re encouraged to be a bit more cautious when it comes to meat in America, where Young recommends people cook their pork chops until they’re white, not pink. “A clear runoff is a good indication that it’s cooked through,” he says. However, your chances of developing trichinosis, the disease caused by Trichinella roundworms, from undercooked pork chops is extremely low, which is why the USDA lowered their recommended pork-cooking temperature guidelines from 160 degrees Fahrenheit to 145 back in 2011 (145 degrees should make sure you don’t get salmonella).

Still, the safest way to know if your pork chops are done is to use a meat thermometer. You can pull them out of the pan when it reads 135 degrees — the residual heat should bring them up to the USDA’s recommended 145 degrees without drying out your meat.

Well, that should do the trick. Enjoy your fancy dinner, you fancy, fancy person.

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