Easy Grilled Boneless Pork Chops


(from Bethany’s recipe box)

Serves 4 to 6
If your pork is enhanced, do not brine it in step 1. Very finely mashed anchovy fillets (rinsed and dried before mashing) can be used instead of anchovy paste.

To produce juicy, well-charred boneless center-cut loin chops on the grill, we used a two-pronged approach. We brined the chops to improve their ability to hold on to juices during cooking, provide seasoning throughout, and increase their tenderness. To ensure we’d get a substantial browned crust before the interior overcooked, we looked to a unique coating of anchovy paste and honey. The anchovies’ amino acids couple with the fructose from honey to rapidly begin the flavorful Maillard browning reaction.

Source: America's Test Kitchen Season 13: Short Ribs and Chops Hit the Grill

Categories: Meat


  • 6 (6- to 8-ounce) boneless pork chops, 3/4 to 1 inch thick
  • 3 tablespoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon anchovy paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 recipe relish (optional) (see related content)


  1. Cut 2 slits about 1 inch apart through outer layer of fat and connective tissue on each chop to prevent buckling. Dissolve salt in 1 1/2 quarts cold water in large container. Submerge chops in brine and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.

  2. Whisk together oil, honey, anchovy paste, and pepper to form smooth paste. Remove pork from brine and pat dry with paper towels. Using spoon, spread half of oil mixture evenly over 1 side of each chop (about 1/4 teaspoon per side).

  3. FOR A CHARCOAL GRILL: Open bottom vent completely. Light chimney starter filled with charcoal briquettes (6 quarts). When top coals are partially covered with ash, pour evenly over half of grill. Set cooking grate in place, cover, and open lid vent completely. Heat grill until hot, about 5 minutes.

  4. FOR A GAS GRILL: Turn all burners to high, cover, and heat grill until hot, about 15 minutes. Leave primary burner on high and turn off other burner(s).

  5. Clean and oil cooking grate. Place chops, oiled side down, over hot part of grill and cook, uncovered, until well browned on first side, 4 to 6 minutes. While chops are grilling, spread remaining oil mixture evenly over second side of chops. Flip chops and continue to cook until chops register 140 degrees, 4 to 6 minutes longer (if chops are well browned but register less than 140 degrees, move to cooler part of grill to finish cooking). Transfer chops to plate and let rest for 5 minutes. Serve with relish, if using.

  6. TECHNIQUEWHERE GRILLED CHOPS GO WRONG: Boneless, center-cut pork chops are widely available, but their lack of fat makes them almost impossible to cook well. JUICY BUT NO COLOR: LOTS OF COLOR BUT DRY:

  7. TECHNIQUEBETTER BROWNING IN A HURRY: For grilled pork chops with deeply seared crusts and juicy centers, speedy browning was crucial—but wasn’t easy to come by. Trouble is, before the Maillard reaction (the scientific principle behind browning) can kick in, heat needs to do some work. It must break down proteins into amino acids and carbohydrates into so-called reducing sugars. Plus, moisture on the meat’s surface inhibits browning. Dredging the exterior of the chops in something dry and absorbent seemed like a potential fix, so we tried flour (full of carbohydrates and some protein), as well as milk powder, which is loaded with not only protein but also the reducing sugar lactose. But while both ingredients significantly sped up browning, neither was particularly meaty-tasting. Then we discovered a breakthrough combination: honey and anchovy paste. Honey is loaded with the reducing sugar fructose, while anchovy paste has three benefits: First, it has the same concentration of meaty-tasting amino acids as pork. Second, the fermentation process dehydrates anchovies, so they contain very little browning-inhibiting water. Third, their large proteins are already broken down into the fast-reacting amino acids. Those traits added up to faster browning and big, meaty flavor. FAILED: Flour expedited browning but didn’t enhance meatiness. FAILED AGAIN: Milk powder also hastened crust development but not savory flavor. WHO’D’VE THUNK? Honey plus anchovy paste produced quick, flavorful browning.

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