Perfectly cooked marinated pork chops, featuring a quick and easy cilantro lime marinade and thick-cut, boneless pork chops.
Cooking pork chops in the oven is easy to do, and requires little effort. However, if you want to make flavorful, succulent and juicy pork chops, a little marinade and a quick pan-sear prior to baking will make all the difference in the world.
Below, you’ll find useful explanations as to how and why these two extra steps will take your oven-baked chops from good-enough, to great. So let’s begin with the marinade. While there are many, many good flavor combinations to choose from for a pork marinade, when it comes to pork chops, it just doesn’t get much better than a classic cilantro and lime marinade.
WHAT IS A MARINADE?
A marinade is mainly an emulsification of an acid and an oil, more oil than acid. Therefore, you’ll need an acid, an oil and a few flavor enhancers to make it interesting. For this recipe, in particular, the acid comes from the lime juice and the oil will be canola. Canola oil is often used in marinades because it is a truly flavorless oil, allowing other flavor components like cilantro, allspice, and garlic to shine through.
HOW DO YOU MARINATE A PORK CHOP?
The best way to apply a marinade to a flat cut of meat (e.g., pork chops, chicken breasts, steaks, etc.) is to pat its surface dry, removing the water barrier and allowing for the marinade to better penetrate the protein. The next step is to transfer that protein to a gallon-sized zip top bag and pour in the marinade. Remove excess air from the bag, and tightly seal.
If there is extra room at the top of the bag, fold it over and under so that the meat and the marinade are able to make as much contact as possible. For the marinade to have any effect on the protein, it should be allowed to marinate for at least four hours.
DON’T LEAVE OUT THE SEAR
Think of the texture of a marshmallow before being roasted over the fire. Now, think of it after. The marshmallow takes on a whole new, much more preferable flavor profile after the roasting is done….well, as long as it doesn’t come back from the fire completely blackened and burnt, that is.
That very same concept can be applied to properly seared meats. Simply put, searing meat at a fairly high temperature helps to develop flavor. This is the Maillard reaction, and in layman’s terms, means browned foods taste better, and that’s just science folks.
PAY ATTENTION TO THE “THICKNESS” OF PROTEIN AS INDICATED BY THE RECIPE
And, just one more thing: If there is a “thickness” indicated in regards to a flat-cut of meat within a recipe, it is an important thing to pay attention to! Thicker cuts take longer to cook than thinner ones, and if you were to bake a 1/2″ thick pork chops for the same amount of time as a 1″ thick pork chop…well, it’s gonna be tough. Real tough. Might be common sense to some, but for great results in the kitchen for all, I think it’s worth the mention.
While I know that these are extra steps, they are extra steps worth taking indeed. I’ve tried cooking pork chops every which way, and folks, this is undoubtedly the very best way to bake a pork chop. Please, enjoy.
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice about 4 limes
- 1 tablespoon Kosher salt
- 2 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon whole allspice optional
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 1/4 cup packed cilantro leaves
- 2 cloves crushed garlic
- 3-4 1" thick boneless pork chops
- 4 tablespoons canola oil separated
- 2 teaspoons TAK House Seasoning
To make the marinade, in a small mixing bowl, whisk together the lime juice, salt, sugar and red pepper flakes. Slowly, stream in the canola oil, whisking constantly, until emulsified. Set aside until ready to use. Pat the pork chops dry and transfer them to a gallon-sized, zip top bag. Pour the marinade over the chops, press as much air as possible out the bag and seal.
Briefly massage the marinade into the chops, and transfer bag to a rimmed baking sheet (or a dish large enough to house the bag), and refrigerate for 5-8 hours. Remove the chops from the bag from the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before cooking, and allow to sit at room temperature.
To cook the pork chops, preheat the oven to 350°.
Remove from the bag and pat dry with a paper towel. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of canola oil and sprinkle with TAK House Seasoning. Rub all over to adhere, and set aside until ready to use. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil to a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Alternatively, use an oven-safe sauté pan. Once the oil has come to temperature, sear the chops for 3-4 minutes on the first side, turn, and sear for 2-3 minutes more.
Do not overcrowd the pan. Transfer the pork chops from the stove top to the oven, and bake for 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 10-15 minutes. Serve and enjoy.
Try pairing Cilantro and Lime Marinated Pork Chops with: