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Bone-in pork chops are the best for grilling. Here’s how to treat them right

A simple marinade makes bone-in pork chops even juicier.
A simple marinade makes bone-in pork chops even juicier.
(Pascal Shirley / For The Times)

Bone-in pork chops pack more flavor than boneless but can be a little tricky to grill. You want the meat cooked past medium-rare but not past medium-well (technically, 135 degrees). So no chewy parts but also no dryness. Follow these tips when you make Vietnamese lemongrass pork chops and other pork chop recipes:

  • Let the chops sit at room temp so they’re not fridge-cold before cooking: 20 to 30 minutes is good for the 1/3-inch-thick chops that I use, but 10 minutes will do for thinner ones.
  • Heat a charcoal or gas grill to medium-high (400 degrees); you should be able to hold your hand 5 inches above the grill grate for 2 to 3 seconds. A hotter fire will burn the outside before the inside is cooked; a cooler one won’t char the meat.
  • If you’re cooking chops that are an inch thick or thicker, close the lid if you’re using a gas grill to help maintain the grilling temperature. You can grill the chops uncovered on a charcoal grill regardless of thickness.
  • Flip the pork when it releases from the grate easily. If it’s sticking, it’s not ready.
  • Don’t follow cooking times alone when deciding when the chops are done. If the pork seems like it’s almost done, take it off the heat earlier rather than later. You can always cook the pork more, but you can’t un-cook it.
  • To confirm whether the chop should come off the heat, cut a slit in its thickest part. The meat should be barely rosy and the juices should run clear. You can use an instant-read meat thermometer as well, looking for a temperature of 135 degrees.
  • If the chops are nicely browned on the outside but still raw inside and threatening to burn, move them to a cooler part of the grill and close the lid to finish cooking. The edges of a charcoal grill tend to be cooler. On a gas grill, you can turn off one side of the burners.

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