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Unread 11-07-2006, 08:39 AM   #1
Q_Egg
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Default Thick TOUGH Pork Loin 'Chops" ... boneless ... not too great

All excited to get in another Traeger pellet cook ! Ran to Costco for terrific looking package of thick (~1 1/2in thick _ 3 in wide), boneless pork loin chops.
These chops have always been tough for us no matter how they have been cooked .... so also grabbed a Jaccard 16 tooth meat tenderizer. Punched the tenderizer as directed about 4-5 times across each chop ... on both sides .. ( I know .... you some of you guys warned me to get the 48-tooth Jaccard ).
Seasoned 4 of the chops with 4 different rubs .... D Pig, K Stone, D Klose, J Henry.

Started the Traeger (Apple .. bottom .. & .. Oak top pellets), chops went in at 180*F for 30 minutes. Cranked up temp to 325*F ... planning on around 45 more minutes. Internal temp hit 165*F within 30 more minutes. Sampled a chop on each end for internal temp. Digital temp readout on hopper end .. and .. dial thermometer on right-side lid .. both indicated close to the set temp (325*F).

Only ate two of these large chops, seasoning was OK ... maybe good, since it was definitely there, but not at all overpowering. Chops had attractive appearance, somewhat moist surface, not dry inside.

BUTTTT .... they were dang tufff !!! .... almost like I remember the previous chops that were not 'tenderized'. What the chit happened? Please give me some temp and times thoughts that would help make these chops more tender! I was concerned to cook too long, dry them out, and make them even tougher .... was I wrong? How about just 225*F throughout the cook until 165*F ? What about lots more Jaccard 'punches' (like 48 tooth)?

Can thick loin chops ever be tender ??

Dang frustrated!
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Unread 11-07-2006, 09:07 AM   #2
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Tom

I too have battled the Costco thick cuts, and my best method seems to be a reverse of your (low then high) method.

On the Kettle, I cook them direct over the coals (or on the gasser after heated up good) for a couple minutes per side (maybe 3 minutes each at 400* or more.

Then I move them to do indirect, covered, couple apple chunks in there, for about 30 minutes at 250* or so.

But its still a crap shoot. I will end up with very tender and moist chops, or tough, but still moist chops.

Its pretty rare that I cook them lately, without slitting a pocket into them and stuffin them. They are just too darned thick on their own
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Unread 11-07-2006, 09:20 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by willkat98
Tom

I too have battled the Costco thick cuts, and my best method seems to be a reverse of your (low then high) method. ..................

Its pretty rare that I cook them lately, without slitting a pocket into them and stuffin them. They are just too darned thick on their own
--------------------------------

Sort of a 'seared' steak approach .... I will need to shift over to the BGE to cook that hot, but will definitly give it a try. It's helpful to know that you have experienced the same difficulty.

I'm also going to give the Jaccard one more try ... on the remaining 4 chops ... with more punches to emulate the 48-tooth version. If no real imptovement, then it goes back since this is precisely what I purchased it for.

Many thanks
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Unread 11-07-2006, 09:39 AM   #4
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I have really never had a pork chop even worth eating. (Thick ones)They are just too lean. You can season and marinate them for eternity, but they are always dry or tough.
That's why I always go for what they call shoulder or blade steaks, much more flavor and marbling.
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Unread 11-07-2006, 09:57 AM   #5
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... wifey is a great wok cook (a bit OT) and those blade steaks are her pork of choice for many stir friy dishes.

I'm finding that pork butt is so versatile that it (and ribs) are my reliable choice for piggy Q. So much for those very tempting looking big packs of thick chops !!
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Unread 11-07-2006, 09:59 AM   #6
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The key words are "boneless", "loin" and "chops". With no bone, low fat content, and no mass (like a whole loin would have) these babies are hard to cook.

Try flavor brining for 4 hours in the refrigerator. Use a zipper bag or submerge in a non-reactive container (corning ware, tupperware etc.) This is a basic starter flavor brine. It is not as strong as a curing brine.

1 ½ quarts water
3 tablespoons coarse Kosher salt (Morton's)
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspooons rub

Edit: Added "Morton's" brand.
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Unread 11-07-2006, 10:04 AM   #7
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I had thicker (not Costco monsters) pork chops last night.

I broke the handle off one of my frying pans smashing the chops down to about a 1/3", then breaded and threw in a pan with peanut oil.

Maybe after using the jacquard, go a round or two with the bottom of a cast iron pan (in wax/parchment paper first)
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Unread 11-07-2006, 10:08 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thirdeye
Try flavor brining for 4 hours in the refrigerator. Use a zipper bag or submerge in a non-reactive container (corning ware, tupperware etc.) This is a basic starter flavor brine. It is not as strong as a curing brine.
Sounds like a winner for my remaining 4 thick chops. If it is 'sensational' then I'll hang in there with these chops .... otherwise I'm going to BUTT out.

Thanks for the flavor brine formula. I really need to get some expereince with brining anyway.

Regards,
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Unread 11-07-2006, 10:19 AM   #9
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As Thirdeye said, brine those babies! I think four hours might be too long, but that's up to personal taste. i usually brine thick chops for about 90 minutes. My brine is basically the same as Thirdeye's, but I usually add some soy sauce.

Then I grill them the same as i do steaks: Seared on both sides for two minutes or so, and then finished indirect until 145 or 150 internal. Then they rest for 5-10 minutes while we assemble the rest of the meal. As others pointed out, today's pork is vey lean, so it will dry out if you cook it too long. Today's pork is also safe to eat at lower temperatures, so you really don't need to cook them to 165.

Also, I won't buy boneless chops. If I can't get bone-in loin chops that are at least 1" thick I'll go someplace else.
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Unread 11-07-2006, 10:38 AM   #10
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Can't remember the last time we bought a chop. I'll buy a whole loin at Sam's and slice. Season with Gordon's GrubRub and let them sit for an hour or two. I usually grill them, but they do OK in the smoker at 225-250.
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Unread 11-07-2006, 11:19 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron_L
As Thirdeye said, brine those babies! I think four hours might be too long, but that's up to personal taste. i usually brine thick chops for about 90 minutes. My brine is basically the same as Thirdeye's, but I usually add some soy sauce.

Then I grill them the same as i do steaks: Seared on both sides for two minutes or so, and then finished indirect until 145 or 150 internal. Then they rest for 5-10 minutes while we assemble the rest of the meal. As others pointed out, today's pork is vey lean, so it will dry out if you cook it too long. Today's pork is also safe to eat at lower temperatures, so you really don't need to cook them to 165.

Also, I won't buy boneless chops. If I can't get bone-in loin chops that are at least 1" thick I'll go someplace else.
A standard ratio of Kosher salt to water is 3 tablespoons per quart of water so this brine is a little weaker. My brine times for regular thickness chops is at least two hours, but I figured if Tom's are 1-1/2" the brine time may need to be closer to 4 hours. Tom ... Maybe brining some for only 2 hours to use as a comparison is a good idea here?

BTW, it's a good time to remind that sizes of grains of kosher salts vary which means a cup of one brand does not weigh the same as a cup of another so it's best to stick with one brand. 1 cup of Mortons is 7-3/4 ounces and a cup of Diamond is only 5 ounces. This difference alone will make a big difference in the strength of a brine.
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Unread 11-07-2006, 11:29 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron_L
As Thirdeye said, brine those babies! I think four hours might be too long, but that's up to personal taste. i usually brine thick chops for about 90 minutes. My brine is basically the same as Thirdeye's, but I usually add some soy sauce.

Then I grill them the same as i do steaks: Seared on both sides for two minutes or so, and then finished indirect until 145 or 150 internal. Then they rest for 5-10 minutes while we assemble the rest of the meal. As others pointed out, today's pork is vey lean, so it will dry out if you cook it too long. Today's pork is also safe to eat at lower temperatures, so you really don't need to cook them to 165.

Also, I won't buy boneless chops. If I can't get bone-in loin chops that are at least 1" thick I'll go someplace else.
Brine-90mins max
Cook-140 to 145
1" thick bone in

Ron you hit a home run on this one, this is the way I do it. Yes, we do have a tough chop now and then but mostly they are tender.

You get what you pay for, if you are lucky enough to have a tender chop and it's cheap be happy.
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Unread 11-07-2006, 11:43 AM   #13
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To get them fork tender you have to braise them. After you get some smoke on them either foil them or put them in a covered casserole dish with some liquid like apple juice or some riesling wine.
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Unread 11-07-2006, 11:50 AM   #14
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Good points, Thirdeye... With soy sauce in my brine it does have a higher salt content. As always, YMMV!

Also, Here's a great recipe for thick pork chops. It is a little involved, but it is wonderful! (The link is to a .pdf file). The recipe is from The Embers restaurant in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan. It's a nice place if you are ever in that area (BBQBull... it's not too far from you).
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Unread 11-07-2006, 01:01 PM   #15
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Default I appreciate this all-around guidance ...

The point about brands of kosher salt makes me 'pay attention' since I always have two large boxes of kosher around (Mortons and North American Salt Co .... Walmart). They are very different grain/texture and I use them for very different purposes.

Now I have several variables to play with ..... which makes for some interesting future cooks. Brining (different times and concentrations); more Jaccard 'punches'; a little of both; some braising; find bone-on chops; a great-sounding Embers recipe; order more pellets!
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