Saturday, April 9, 2011

Secrets of Cooking Today’s Pork

After 20 years of living, cooking and eating in France, Italy and Portugal, I came back to the US and had to adjust to cooking with mostly American ingredients. The single greatest disappointment was anything I cooked with pork. During the years I had been away American pork had changed. Pigs were bred to be less fatty and pork was marketed “as the other white meat.” With this 50% leaner pork - all of my recipes produced dried out pork meat. Here is how I learned to adjust!
Secret # 1 - Fat Content
Look for the most marbled pork you can find. Where you can actually see fat within the meat or have the butcher bard it with lard for cooking.  You don’t have to eat the fat – but you must cook with it to produce juicy and tender meat.
Secret #2 - Do not overcook.
Old recipes tell you to cook pork until it is at 170F which means “well done”. Pork meat has always been safe to eat at 137F, but since the meat had such high fat content it was still juicy when well done. Today,
the National Pork Producer’s Council & USDA recommend cooking pork to "medium" or an internal temperature of 160F. They suggest removing large cuts of pork such as roasts, from the oven at 155F and letting the meat continue to cook from its own heat while resting for a few minutes before carving.  
Secret #3 - Pork Stock
Pork stock is time consuming to make and relatively rare to find. Consequently many recipes call for water or chicken stock to baste a roast or create a sauce. But water or chicken stock dilutes the pork flavor, so I use Kitchen Basic’s Pork Stock. (Marona’s now carries it.)

Wine pairings:
Millbrook Winery Cabernet Franc 2008 (18% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Sauvignon and 75% Cabernet Franc),with aromas of berries and cocoa with earthy undertones. A good Cabernet Franc to drink a bit cool. $15 @ Village Wine in Millbrook.
Chinon Couly-Dutheil La Coulee Automnale 2007 from the Loire Valley (100% Cabernet Franc).  $12.99 @ Alrlington Wine & Liquor.

Here are two pork recipes – use these secrets and either wine with both!

Pork Rib Roast with Braised Red Cabbage
Serves 6-8
Rack of Pork – One chop per person
(Paul at Marona’s barded &“frenched” it for me.)
16 fl oz of Pork Stock
1 Glass of Red Wine.
Salt, Pepper
Pork Fat or Butter & Oil
1 Red Cabbage (cored and sliced)
2 Apples (peeled and sliced)
1 Sweet Onion (sliced & separated into rings)
1 Cup Cider Vinegar
1/2 Cup Sugar
1 Tablespoon Butter
4 Teaspoons Cornstarch
Preheat oven to 350F. Place roasting pan (not Pyrex) on the stove. Melt fat and brown pork roast on all sides. Place in hot oven. Roast 20 minutes per pound basting every 15 minutes with some of the stock.  In a dutch oven toss cabbage, apples and onion. Add 1½ cups of water, vinegar, sugar, butter and salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for an hour and a half.  When meat is done (should be 155F) remove from pan. Allow to rest 10 minutes outside the oven tented (covered loosely) with a piece of aluminum foil while you make the sauce. Put the roasting pan back on the stove. Add wine and scrape the bottom of pan as the liquid reduces.
Dilute 4 teaspoons of cornstarch in 4 teaspoons of boiling stock. Add half to the cabbage, bring back to boil for two minutes. Remove from heat and keep covered. Add the other half to the pan juices to thicken the sauce. Whisk. Add rest of stock ¼ cup at a time to pan. Keep whisking. Remove bard from roast and cut in between the ribs to give each portion one chop. Serve on a hot platter. Spoon some of the sauce over the meat and the rest in a gravy boat.  Serve with the braised red cabbage and mashed potatoes.

Pork Tenderloin with Apples & Potatoes
(Inspired by a Guy Savoy recipe)
Serves 4
2 tenderloins of pork
2 lbs Small Potatoes
Yukon, White Creamers or Red-
Washed and boiled in salted water for 25 minutes. Drained and left to cool in their skins)
1 Apple (peeled and cut first in quarters and then each quarter in thirds lengthwise). 
1 Onion (peeled and diced)
½ cup of lemon juice
1 cup of apple juice
8 fluid ounces of Pork Stock
Butter, Sugar, Chopped Parsley, Salt & Pepper

Brown the tenderloins in butter on all sides for about 10 minutes.  Add the diced onion and let cook for about 20 minutes. Peel the cooled potatoes. In separate skillets, brown the potatoes in melted butter for about 10 minutes and the apple pieces for about 5 minutes. Mix the lemon and apple juices. Remove meat from skillet and keep warm. Pour  juices into the hot skillet, scraping the bottom to get meat flavors to dissolve into the liquid. Add a teaspoon of sugar and ½ of the stock. Whisk. As it thickens add the rest of the stock and keep whisking until it forms a glossy slightly thick sauce. Slice meat and serve on a warm plate with the potatoes on one side and the apples on the other. Nap with the sauce. 

No comments:

Post a Comment