Pork’s mild flavour makes it perfect for pairing with different flavour profiles, from zesty barbecue, Italian, Asian or wonderful fragrant curries. Just remember to cook pork low and slow. Overcooking and cooking at high temperatures will result in a dry, rather tasteless end product. The leanness of today’s pork means there is less fat to render in the meat itself. Cook pork to an internal temperature of 160°F (71°C). Your choice of cooking method depends on the cut, personal preference and time available.
Dry Heat Cooking Methods
- Roasting is suitable for larger cuts. The meat is cooked uncovered on a rack in a roasting pan. For best results, cook in a pre-heated oven at a temperature of 325°F (160°C).
- Tenderloin can be cooked at 375°F (190°C). To check doneness, insert a food thermometer into the centre or thickest part of the roast away from fat or bone. Remember to allow for a 5°F (3°C) rise in temperature after removal from the oven.
- Cook shoulder roasts to an internal temperature of 175°F (80°C).
- Leg and loin roasts to 160°F (71°C). Cover loosely with foil and let stand 10–15 minutes before carving.
- All ground meat, including sausages, must be cooked to 160°F (71°C).
- Broiling is suitable for smaller cuts. Place pork on a rack in a broiler pan or shallow baking pan 3 inches to 5 inches (7.5 cm to 12.5 cm) from heat. Broil until pork is brown on one side, turn and broil other side until done. Season each side after browning.
- Pan Frying requires adding oil to a skillet and cooking at high heat until the surface is golden brown. Reduce heat to medium and cook until meat reaches an internal temperature of 160°F (71°C). Use a non-stick skillet to reduce or eliminate added oil.
- Stir-Frying is a form of pan frying. Food is cooked in a wok or skillet over very high heat with very little oil. Simply toss ingredients rapidly with a spatula.
- Grilling is an excellent, low fat cooking method. Whether grilling steaks, chops, ribs or roasts, pork will always be moist as long as it is not overcooked. Pre-heat barbecue to high and then reduce to medium. Use tongs, not a fork, to turn meat to avoid losing precious juices. When brushing on sauce, do so in the final 10-15 minutes to eliminate flare-ups and to prevent sauces containing sugar from caramelizing and burning.
Moist Heat Cooking Methods
- Braising is used most often for shoulder and leg cuts. Use a small amount of liquid. Simmer, covered, over low heat or in a 325°F (160°C) oven. Additional liquid may be added during cooking. Meat is ready when tender and easily pierced with a fork.
- Stewing is used for smaller pieces of pork. The meat is seared over very high heat, then covered with liquid and simmered, over low heat on the stove top, or in an oven at 325°F (160°C) until the meat is tender.