Exercise 7: Finish Cooking on the Grill
Beginner Lessons > Introduction to Cooking Methods > Dry Heat Methods With No Fat Added > Finish Cooking on the Grill
Exercise Checklist:
Recommended Pre-requisites
Exercise 3: Palm Test Video Exercise 4: Prepping the Grill Exercise 5: Marking Product on the Grill
Ingredients
  • 1 Bone-In Pork Chop approx. 4-6 oz (113 g-170 g) (or if you don't eat pork, something similar like a T-Bone Steak.) per person)
  • Tempering Fat (Olive Oil or Clarified Butter)
Tools & Equipment
  • Grill
  • Kitchen Towel
  • Tongs
  • Meat Thermometer
  • Cutting Board
Estimated Time
Once the grill is heated, 2-3 minutes to mark the product front & back. Another 5-10 minutes to finish the product according to your preferred method.
Yield
1 Marked and Finished Bone-In Pork Chop or Meat Product.

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Exercise 7: Finish Cooking on the Grill

 

In the 2 previous Exercises, Teaching Chef “Prepped” his Grill and then “Marked” his product on the Grill using High Heat.

In this cooking lesson, Teaching Chef will use the Medium Heat Zone to apply Medium Heat to the Bone-In Pork chop. Using Medium Heat will allow cooking heat to penetrate all the way through the product without allowing too much heat to destroy the exterior. If you have not yet visited the Heat Zones, Prepping the Grill, or Marking on the Grill, we recommend you take a look at them before continuing with this exercise.

As we mentioned in Marking on the Grill, most of the foods that are a “textbook” match for Grilling are Tender, Thin, Portion Cuts. They don’t need much time on the second side to Finish Cook and can easily be cooked to a Rare Level of Doneness on High Heat.

Thicker, Tougher Portion Cuts may need additional cooking at a lower heat level, so you don't burn the exterior. This is especially true if you are trying to achieve a more cooked Level of Doneness. Use Medium Heat, to Finish Cook a Thicker Pork Chop to a Medium-Well. We will want to Grill the product to a Pull Temperature™ that is 5-10 degree's cooler than our desired Final Cooking Temperature. Carry Over Cooking will take it the rest of the way. Determining the Level of Doneness is one of the most difficult and critical aspects of cooking Meat. It's a critical skill that chefs must learn through experience and practice. Anyone can put a chop on the grill. But the skill, and the art is in knowing when is the exactly right moment to take it off!  We focus on the act of removing the product from the heat quite a bit below, because it is something we want you to become proficient at. Tools and clues can help, but only real world practice will really give you a feel for doneness that translates across every cooking method.

In Finish Cooking, we will use the Palm Test (covered earlier in this Topic) to tell us when we have reached the proper Pull Temperature. This early in the curriculum, the Palm Test will act as a guide to let us know when we should insert a meat thermometer into the product to measure its Internal Temperature.

Essentially, we will be double-checking ourselves and gauging how well we are doing with our Palm Test. Doing both tests may seem like overkill, and it will be when your Palm Test is 100% accurate, but the Internal Temperature reading is an important safeguard as you build your expertise.

A lot of home cooks, even decent ones, cut into the product to literally see the Level of Doneness. We strongly caution you against using this popular, half-measure which punctures the product and allows moisture to escape. Chef's would rather retain moisture and enjoy a juicier product. Cutting is a crutch that you won’t need. Creating a single, small, thermometer puncture when the odds (and your Palm Test) favor your meat already being at the Pull Temperature, is a much better way to retain moisture and flavor. Be careful of your placement, though. Touching the bone will measure the bone’s temperature and misread the temperature of the meat.  

For Medium-Well Pork, we are looking for 140˚ F (60˚ C) as our Pull Temperature. Carry Over Cooking will add another 5-10 degrees of Internal Temperature to the product, taking it to 145˚ F or 150˚ F (63˚ C or 66˚ C), which is a perfect Final Cooking Temperature for Pork cooked Medium-Well. If you like your pork Well Done, by all means cook it that way. Follow the same procedure above but let the pork sit in the Medium Heat Zone a little longer. By the way, the procedure will be similar for Finish Cooking other items. The major differences will be cook times and Final Cooking Temperatures. Just subtract 5-10 degrees of temperature from the Final Cooking Temperature, to calculate the Pull Temperature.

With a Presentation Side selected, Teaching Chef moves the product to the Medium Heat Zone. He makes sure that his Presentation side is facing up. Once settled, he does not move the pork chop. He lets it grill undisturbed for about 4-5 minutes to help it form a good crust and to let the Medium Heat penetrate to the center and cook the chop, all the way through. If Teaching Chef was working with a grill with a lid (and had no need to film his technique), he would close the lid so that Convection Heat, would help Finish Cook the product. Also, chef would still need to check back periodically, to monitor the process.

Because he is Finish Cooking a Bone-In product, Teaching Chef is most worried about the flesh that sits near the bone, as it typically takes longer to cook. He gauges his progress with the Palm Test, until he thinks he is at the Pull Temperature (in this case 140˚ F, or 5-10 degree's short of the desired Final Cooking Temperature). He knows that Carry-Over Cooking Time, or the tendency of retained heat to keep cooking a food item even after it is removed from the heat source, will take the product the last bit of the way.

In the old days, when there was a serious danger of Trichinosis, the FDA advised Finish Cooking pork to 160˚ F (71˚ C). Modern Pork production is much healthier. Not only is Trichinosis rare, but the pork meat itself is leaner. Chef's and the FDA now agree that cooking pork to an Internal Temperature of 145˚ F (63˚ C) is adequate for Food Safety. The lower standard means that we can all enjoy a moister, juicier end product.

When Teaching Chef is happy with the feel of the pork chop (using the Palm Test), he reaches for his Meat Thermometer. Using the Meat Thermometer will confirm (or deny) that he has cooked the product enough. It will also demonstrate for us how to measure Internal Temperature.

Remember, “you can fix undercooking but you throw out overcooking.” If you're unsure of your progress with the Palm Test, reach for the meat thermometer early. It will tell you where you are in the cooking process. If you need more cook time, let the chop cook. The small puncture marks and minor amounts of moisture loss (compared to cutting) are worth it to avoid overcooking. Check yourself. How did the product “feel” compared to its real Internal Temperature as displayed by the meat thermometer? Keep at it and you will improve!

Did you notice that Teaching Chef inserted the thermometer very close to where the meat joins the bone without hitting the bone? That’s a sign of experience. Another sign of experience: he has done this a few times and has his Palm Test down. His reading is 140˚ F (60˚ C). That is 5º lower than his desired Final Cooking Temperature of 145˚ F (63˚ C). Teaching Chef moves his pork chop to the Low Heat Zone and holds it there a few moments. Just to demonstrate the technique of Holding Food warm, on the grill.

Ultimately, Teaching Chef plates the pork chop and lets it Rest 5-10 minutes more to let the juices redistribute. After the pork rests a bit, Teaching Chef cuts into the product, which he estimates has an Internal Temperature of 150˚ F - 155˚ F (65˚ C to 68˚ C). He wants to show us that there is variability in finish cooking, even within the same pork chop. The meat is slightly more pink (less cooked) closer to the bone, and has more moisture. If you can’t see the detail in the Instructional Video, the pork near the bone has some pink and big beads of moisture.

The pork meat closer to the exterior is only slightly pink and has a little less moisture. 

And that is basic Grilling. We will see it again in the actual Pass Meal for Lesson 4. We will incorporate the technique with some others to demonstrate how technique, Organization and Preparation can be used to make a meal and put all the components on the table at just the right time. Organizing and Preparing are two of the main ideas behind Smart Kitchen’s Four Levers of Cooking™, which aims to help us do tasks in their own specific times so that we can completely focus on the job at hand. In the case of Finish Cooking, the job at hand is Managing the Cooking Process

This Exercise may sound like a lot of “Preview,” and it is, but we’d rather have you forewarned so that when the gas is on and you are "Practicing" you are learning and not scrambling around when the product hits the flame.

By the way, an alternative to Finish Cooking on the Grill, is to Finish Cook in the Oven.