Handling pork properly is critical, and improper thawing may create conditions ripe for development of bacteria that can cause foodborne illness. If you need to get dinner on the table in a hurry and you didn't allow enough time for pork chops to thaw completely, you may still be able to cook the meat safely.
Frozen Pork Chops
According to the National Pork Board, it is safe to cook partially thawed pork chops. You can even cook pork chops that are completely frozen, but allow extra time because cooking frozen pork chops will take longer. Before serving the pork chops, use an instant-read meat thermometer to be sure they are cooked to a safe temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit. If the frozen center of the pork chops isn't completely cooked, let the meat cook a little longer.
A meat thermometer is the only way to be sure pork chops are cooked to a safe temperature. A thermometer also ensures moist, flavorful pork chops because pork tends to dry out when it's overcooked. To test the temperature of a pork chop, hold the meat with tongs and insert the thermometer into the side of the meat so the tip of the thermometer is in the center of the chop without touching bone. Most meat thermometers are instant-read thermometers that register the temperature within a few seconds.
Let Them Rest
Remove the pork chops from the heat source and transfer them to a plate for a three-minute rest before serving. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the temperature of the meat remains at 145 F. or raises slightly during the rest time, which ensures that any harmful bacteria are destroyed. Don't be concerned if the pork chops are slightly pink. As long as the meat reaches the recommended internal temperature, it is ready to eat.
Never thaw pork chops at room temperature. The best way to thaw pork chops is to plan ahead and thaw the meat in the refrigerator, then cook the thawed chops within three to five days. If you don't have time, place the chops in a resealable plastic bag or other airtight wrapping, then immerse the package in cold water. Replenish the cold water every 30 minutes. Once the meat is thawed, cook it or place it in the refrigerator. You can also thaw pork chops in the microwave but you must cook the meat immediately. Microwave thawing often begins to cook the meat, and partially cooked meat develops bacteria quickly.
- National Pork Board: Buying, Handling and Storing Pork
- National Pork Board: Meat Thermometer How To
- University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension: Pass the Taste Test -- Use a Thermometer!
- USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service: Cooking Temperature for Ground Pork, Beef, Veal, Lamb Remains at 160 F.
- United States Department of Agriculture: Cooking Meat? Check the New Recommended Temperatures
- University of Illinois Extension: Meat Safety for the Consumer: Thawing Meat
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