Easy Skillet-Barbecued Pork Chops

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you probably know that historically I haven’t been the biggest pork chop fan. In truth, the only reason I ever made them was because Shane was crazy about them. Compromise and all that good stuff, you know?

But today I have to tell you I’m singing a different tune. In fact, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say I’m almost on the other end of the spectrum completely – pork chops have become one of my go-to weeknight dinners, I love them! And it’s all thanks to this recipe for easy skillet-barbecued pork chops. It is the only recipe I make when I buy pork chops, and I don’t see us ever tiring of it.

Easy Skillet-Barbecued Pork Chops

The magic starts with throwing the chops in a simple brine for 30 minutes. This is one of the keys to keeping them really moist, don’t be tempted to skip it! While the chops brine, I whip up the spice rub and the barbecue sauce – both are really simple and consist of just a few pantry ingredients. Coating the chops in the rub before cooking gives them a nice crust on the outside. Once they’re almost finished, the pork chops are brushed with a little of the barbecue sauce and seared quickly to caramelize the sauce.

My favorite thing about this dish is how juicy the pork chops turn out every single time. I started making the recipe last winter, so it’s been put to the test on a ton of occasions in my kitchen. Between the spice rub and the barbecue sauce, the pork chops have a ton of sweet and smoky flavor too! Bland and dry pork chops are a thing of the past with this easy skillet-barbecued pork recipe :)

Easy Skillet-Barbecued Pork Chops
just barely adapted from Cook’s Illustrated, September/October 2007

{Note: I found liquid smoke at my regular grocery store but it’s also available on Amazon in a pinch.}

4 bone-in pork chops, 3/4 to 1 inch thick (about 8 to 10 oz each), trimmed of excess fat
1/2 cup table salt
8 cups water
4 teaspoons canola oil, divided

Rub
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Barbecue Sauce
1/2 cup ketchup
3 tablespoons molasses
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 teaspoon liquid smoke

Before you start – to prevent the chops from curling as you cook, cut two small slits about 2 inches apart on the outside (fat-capped) edge. The slit should just go through the fat and connective tissue.

Brine the chops: Combine the salt and water in a large bowl; stir to dissolve the salt. Add the chops, then cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the spice rub by stirring all of the rub ingredients together in a small bowl. Remove 2 teaspoons of the spice rub to use in the barbecue sauce, then add the remaining rub to a pie plate. To make the barbecue sauce: whisk all of the sauce ingredients together in a medium measuring cup – don’t forget to add the 2 teaspoons of spice rub you reserved earlier.

Remove the pork chops from the brine and place on a paper towel-lined plate. Pat them dry, then, one at a time, transfer to the pie plate with the spice rub and coat boat sides with a thin layer, pressing to adhere.

Add 1 tablespoon of the oil to a large nonstick skillet and set over medium to medium-high heat. When the oil/pan are hot, add the pork chops. Cook for about 5-6 minutes on the first side, or until they are well browned and charred in spots. Flip and cook on the second side for about 5 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center registers 130 F and the chops are browned and slightly charred. Take the pan off the heat and transfer the chops to a plate. Brush the top side of each one with about 2 teaspoons of the barbecue sauce.

Use a paper towel to wipe out the pan, then set back over medium heat. Add the remaining teaspoon of oil. When the oil is hot, add the pork chops to the pan with the sauce side down. Cook for about 1 minute, or until the barbecue sauce has caramelized. While you wait, brush the exposed side of each chop with about 2 teaspoons of barbecue sauce. Flip to the second side and cook for another 1-2 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center of the chops registers 140 F, and the sauce has caramelized.

Remove the pork chops to a plate and tent with foil to keep warm. Let rest for at least 5 minutes. Pour the remaining barbecue sauce into the pan and cook for a few minutes, until it has thickened slightly and reduced to about 2/3 cup. If desired, top the chops with additional barbecue sauce before serving, or pass the remaining sauce instead.