For best flavor, look for chops that are about an inch thick. Bone-in chops tend to contain more fat and are thus more flavorful (they’re also less prone to overcooking). Boneless chops are easier to eat and are a leaner choice with less fat, but they do have less flavor.
Common bone-in pork chops
- Center cut or pork loin chops: include a T-shaped bone.
- Rib chops: come from the rib portion of the loin (from the shoulder to the middle of the loin). These chops tend to be fattier, more tender and cook very quickly.
- Blade or shoulder chops: come from the spine and contain connective tissue. These chops are dark in color, and tend to be tough and gristly. They often need tenderization before cooking.
- Loin chops: come from the hip and loin, and can contain some tenderloin. These chops tend to have a mild flavor, and are great for grilling or broiling.
- Sirloin chops: an economical cut that comes from the hip area. These chops are tough, but flavorful.
Fresh pork chops, packaged and sealed, can be kept in the refrigerator two to four days before cooking. If you buy pork chops from a butcher or supermarket meat counter, ask the butcher how to store the meat, and how long it will last in the fridge.
If you’d like to buy fresh pork chops to freeze, you can do so for about six months providing you wrap it in coated freezer paper heavy-duty aluminum foil, heavy-duty plastic wrap or in heavy-duty freezer bags. Make sure to portion it out, and cover bones with extra paper, foil or plastic so they don’t poke through the wrapping. Wrap the chops tightly, pressing out as much air as you can. According to the National Pork Board, it takes about 12-14 hours for a frozen one-inch chop to thaw properly.
Pork chops are typically a very economical choice for dinners, and since they freeze so well, stocking up during sales is always an option. Wondering whether it’s worth splurging on organic or natural pork? Here’s what you need to know about organic versus conventional pork chops: Those that are certified organic come from pigs that are not treated with antibiotics, synthetic hormones and pesticides; the food the animals ate must also adhere to these standards. Organic certification for pork also requires that the animals have access to the outdoors. The term “natural” does not have strict requirements, but may mean that the pork is minimally processed and contains no artificial ingredients. Be wary of “hormone-free” on labels; some manufacturers use this claim as a selling point, but the USDA forbids the use of added hormones in any pork or poultry products anyway.