When someone tells you they don’t like grilled pork chops, it’s likely because they’ve never had one cooked properly. Pork chops can dry out more quickly than just about any other type of meat — especially when cooked on the grill. Why? Pork loses a lot of moisture when it cooks (nearly 20% of its weight). This causes the proteins to clump together and make it more dense and fibrous. This effect is multiplied on the grill because the juices drip away from the meat, as opposed to cooking it in a pan or baking dish where the juices can collect around the meat.
The incredibly simple solution: brine. By soaking pork chops in a brine solution for several hours, additional moisture will be absorbed into the meat to prevent it from drying out on the grill. A common misconception is that brine will make the meat salty. Not so. Try this technique in your outdoor kitchen this week, and you’ll taste the most moist and delicious grilled pork chops you’ve ever had.
The Basics of Brining
Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add 1/4 cup kosher salt, 3 tablespoons of white or brown sugar, and the herbs or spices of your choice (this blogger’s favorites are fresh rosemary, fresh oregano and crushed garlic). Stir until the salt and sugar are completely dissolved. Remove from the heat and add 2 cups very cold water. Once the brine has come to room temperature, cover the meat completely in the brine and refrigerate for at least 6 hours (no more than 24). Remove the meat from the brine, discard the solution, rinse the meat under running water, then pat dry. Some of the flavor will have been infused into the meat, but you will want to season the outside again before putting on the grill to get that lovely seared flavor.
Fire up one side of your grill island and allow the grate to get good and hot. Place the pork chops on the preheated grill away from the flames and cook with indirect heat. Cooking time will depend upon the thickness of the meat. For safe consumption, cook to an internal temperature of 145°F or 65°C. A basic rule-of-thumb is 8-12 minutes for 3/4″ chops and 12-20 minutes for double-cut chops. Increase the cooking time for bone-in. For best results, use a temperature gauge.