5 Tips for Cooking Pork and answers to common questions

Nov 8, 2019 | Cooking Tips, meat

I have been asked a lot recently about cooking pork. I’ve been asked if I had any tips. I’ve been asked about how pink is too pink. Essentially, I’ve been asked to do a post about cooking pork, so here it is. Today we are going to take a look at some ways you can get the most out of those pork chops, that pork tenderloin that’s on sale, those back ribs, or that pork loin. Today is all about my favourite meat, pork.

1. Don’t Overcook it

First and foremost a lot of people don’t like pork because they have only ever had it overcooked. When it is overcooked it is dry, hard to chew and tasteless. When it is properly cooked it is juicy, tender and flavourful. Makes sense right? But how do we make sure not to overcook our pork?

The Canadian government recommends that pork be cooked to an internal temperature on 160°f. If you are using a meat thermometer that is perfect. If you don’t have one you can gauge the cook by eye. To do this you have to cut into the meat and it isn’t actually that reliable a method. If you want to do this you just want to make sure there is next to no pink. A little tiny bit is fine. The final test is the finger test. This is where you poke the pork chop with your finger to check doneness. But, you have to know how the pork should feel to use this technique. A good method of measure for this is to touch your thumb and ring finger together and then poke the meaty part of your thumb. That should be about the same firmness as a finished piece of pork.

2. How long to cook

Another key aspect of not overcooking pork is to know how long it should be cooked. It’s next to impossible for me to tell you an exact time because ovens and stoves are different, pork chops are different thicknesses and a variety of other factors. Having said that, bone-in pork chops in a pan will usually take about 4-6 minutes per side of cooking. Pork chops without a bone about 3-5 minutes per side. These times are based on cooking over medium-high heat. In the oven bone-in, pork chops will take between 20-35 minutes on 375°f. Pork tenderloin will take 35-40 minutes in the oven though if you sear it in a pan first it will cook in 12-15 minutes in the oven. Really, you should always sear pork tenderloin first. As for roasts, cooking at 325°f 25-35 minutes per pound. If you are making pulled pork, you want to cook on a low heat until the meat is literally falling apart.

3. Pork Cooking Styles

We’ve touched on a few different cooking techniques already. Roasting, and pan-searing mostly. However, pork can be slow-cooked, braised, stir-fried, deep-fried, grilled, smoked, cured, or dried. One of the greatest and most important things about pork is that it is the most versatile meat on the planet. You can do so much with it.

Think about sausages, prosciutto, bacon, and ham. All made of pork. Then add ribs, and pulled pork in there and you have magic. But, that’s not all. Think about Chinese food, sweet and sour pork, pork fried rice, Chinese BBQ pork, and the list goes on. Essentially, other than Jewish, and Muslim cultures everyone eats pork, and eats a lot of it. So, the point is that you can take one piece of pork and cook foods from around the world with it.

Now, you may be wondering what makes pork so great. Well, a few things. First of all, as I already said, the versatility but there is more to it than that. Pork shoulder, for example, has the perfect ratio of fat to meat to make sausages. Sausages need fat otherwise they become dry and gritty. When sausages are made of other meats, like beef, pork fat is usually added in for flavour and texture. Another great thing about pork is that it is fairly neutral flavoured meat. That means it can be paired with just about anything. Also, pork makes bacon.

4. Flavours that go with pork.

At this point, you may be wondering about what flavours go well with pork. Well, it’s a good question and the answer is just as good, all of them. Yes, I mean all of the flavours go with pork. Honestly, as I sit here and write this there is not a single thing that I can think of that I couldn’t find a way to pair with pork. From sweet to salty, spicy to sour, and everything in between pork can handle it. This may or may not help you but it is the truth. If you can dream it, you can probably find a way to pair it with pork.

5. Don’t be afraid.

Part of what I hope you take away from this is that pork is amazing. You shouldn’t be afraid of it, though a lot of people are. Older generations did have a little to worry about when it comes to pork due to a parasite called Trichinosis. In Canadian pork, this has pretty much been completely eliminated. It isn’t really worrying anymore. Does that mean that you should eat rare pork, no. It wouldn’t kill you but why take the risk. Cook it to 160°F and you will be fine, and the pork will be delicious.

One more great thing about pork is that compared to beef, chicken, or fish, it is inexpensive. A family pack of pork chops will run you between $8-$15 and can be made to stretch over multiple meals.

All I can really suggest is that you go out there, and experiment with pork. You will be so happy that you did.

What’s your favourite way to have pork? Tell me about it in the comments below.


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