A pork chop is a pork chop, right? And yet time after time professional chefs are able to grill up pork that’s tender and juicy while most chain restaurants and amateur cooks typically serve you a chop that’s about as moist and tasty as a piece of cardboard…
Ever wondered how the pros do it?
Well, here’s their secret:
They cook their pork to medium doneness – between 150° F and 160° F. Doing so allows them to plate up a delicious serving of pork that’s tender,a touch pink in the middle, and tantalizingly moist because it hasn’t had all its juices driven out of it.
Yes, the USDA recommends cooking pork until it’s absolutely well done – 170° F.
However, in the words of the Centers for Disease Control, ” a temperature of 170 F (77 C) substantially exceeds the thermal death point “. The fact of the matter is Trichnella spiralis is killed at 137° F which means 150° F is well into the safe range, and 170° F is pretty much a drastic overkill …
Which is why professional chefs – along with most butchers and grocers – recommend cooking pork to just over 150° F.
A table of estimated times it will take different cuts of pork – such as chops, ribs, and ham – to reach 150° F – 160° F can be found here.
Of course, the doneness you choose is entirely up to you. As for us here at Grill It Right, we’ll take our pork tenderloin grilled to medium please.
***UPDATE: The FDA has gotten on board with what chefs have been saying for years – and has lowered its recommended safe cooking temperature for solid pork cuts to 145° F. See the full details in this article by the New York Times.