Grilled Pork – Lower Temperature, Juicier Chops
Article first published as Grilled Pork Chops on Blogcritics.
The USDA recently amended its safe food internal temperature for pork from 160 degrees to 145 degrees (for cuts of meat; ground pork or any other ground meat should still be cooked to 160 degrees, and poultry should be cooked to 165 degrees).
This now matches guidelines previously established for cuts of beef, veal, etc. Additionally, the USDA added a 3-minute rest time guideline for pork as well as the other meats. Check out this May 26, 2011, USDA news release for more information about safe grilling.
I have always been firmly in the camp of thoroughly cooked pork (I still remember learning in grade school about parasites that could be transferred to humans by ingesting undercooked pork – a lesson that stuck with me).
But trichinosis has pretty much been eradicated in the U.S., largely due to legislation prohibiting the feeding of raw meat to hogs.
So, I decided to try the new guidelines with grilled pork loin chops. I hesitated (just for a moment) at the sight of the slightly pink center – old habits die hard – but overcame my wariness and took a bite.
Notable difference! I am a pork lover, and as much as I enjoyed the flavor of well-cooked chops, the less-cooked version is much juicier and decidedly more tasty, with a flavor reminiscent of bacon.
Grills vary, but here’s how I prepared these:
- Season chops liberally on both sides (I like Grill Mates) – let rest about 30 minutes
- Heat grill to medium with lid closed
- Position chops just off flame
- Grill 3-4 minutes each side
Of course, you need a food thermometer to determine if you’ve actually reached 145 degrees.