Can You Soak Pork Chops in Milk?

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If you want truly tender pork, marinate in milk.
If you want truly tender pork, marinate in milk. (Image: Medioimages/Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Not only can you successfully marinate pork in milk, it turns out that dairy products are actually superior in their ability to tenderize meat than many more traditional marinade ingredients. If the idea seems odd, think of it as one step removed from marinating chicken in buttermilk prior to frying. The ingredients are slightly different, but the principle is the same.

The Effects of Marinating in Milk

Marinating pork chops or other meat in milk is more effective at tenderizing meat than other types of marinades, according to Fine Cooking online. The exact mechanism is unknown, but it may involve enzymes in the milk acting on proteins in meat to break them down and thus soften the muscle fibers.

Using a Milk Marinade

Pork chops can marinate in a milk-based marinade for several hours or even overnight. A minimum of one to two hours is recommended. Use enough milk to completely cover the pork chops in whatever container you place them in, but they don't have to be swimming in it. Refrigerate the meat while it is marinating and discard the marinade once you remove the pork chops.

Other Marinade Ingredients

Herbs, either fresh or dried, add flavor to your milk marinade. Rosemary, sage, thyme or savory are all good choices. For the fullest flavor, add some salt as well. You can also try adding crushed or chopped garlic to your milk marinade. Aromatic spices such as paprika, cayenne or other dried hot peppers, cumin and crushed or ground peppercorns also work well.

Alternatives to Milk

You can use other dairy products besides milk to marinate pork chops, too. Marinating chicken in yogurt is a time-honored Middle Eastern and Indian cooking technique; while those cuisines do not usually cook pork, you can borrow their technique for use on your chops. Traditional Southern buttermilk marinades can be used on pork as well as chicken. Or make a nontraditional buttermilk marinade with any of the herbs and spices that go well with pork.

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