Pork Basics



Buying Pork

All of my suggestions in Buying Meat apply to pork, but there’s one more thing to discuss: fat. Pork was once super-fatty, but now the stuff you find in the supermarket is so lean it tastes more like chicken. Fortunately fat is making a comeback: The best meat has flecks of white fat integrated into the lean and a real strip on the outside. Those are signs of flavor and often an indication that the pig was raised more traditionally.



Cooking the Common Pork Cuts

FOR ROASTING
Large cuts, with most of the fat around the outside:

Loin roast
Tenderloin
Ham roast
Sirloin roast

FOR GRILLING, BROILING, AND PAN-COOKING
Small cuts, with most of the fat around the outside:

Loin chops (all kinds)
Cutlets (from the loin, shoulder, or sirloin)
Ham steaks
Sliced bacon
Sausages
Ground pork

FOR BRAISING OR SLOW ROASTING
Fatty “stew meat,” whole or cut into chunks:

Shoulder
Butt
Spare or “baby back” ribs
Shanks
Hocks


Ground Pork and Sausage

As with beef, but buying from a supermarket that grinds its own—or from a high-quality small producer—is a good alternative. The meat should be fatty enough to stay moist after cooking. You can use ground pork for burgers, meatballs, meat loaves, sausage patties, or stir-fries. Store-bought sausages should also be relatively fatty and can range from awesome to awful depending on where you get them, so when you find a source you like (and trust), stick with it. The meat should be packed in natural casings (you might have to ask) and look pink, not brown; and you should see small globs of white fat and some seasonings through the casings.


IS IT DONE YET?

Pork is generally not eaten quite as rare as beef or lamb, but I like steaks, chops, and roasts when they’re still pink and juicy inside, not gray and dry. Check it as you do beef, then yank it off the heat one stage (about 5°F) before your desired doneness and let it rest a few minutes before serving.


A MEDIUM-RARE 145°F. Light pink center.
B MEDIUM 150°F. Slightly pink but moist.
C WELL DONE 160°F. No traces of pink.

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