Tag Archives: pork

Pork Roasting Tips That Make ALL the Difference

Occasionally called the “other” white meat, pork has always had an identity issue. Whether being perceived as too fatty, too dry, too tough or in need of cooking to “well done” for health purposes, pork, like a multiple-choice test, is really “none of the above.”

If you stop for a moment and think about it, pork is one of the most versatile meats. From bacon in the morning, shaved ham on a sandwich at lunch and perhaps a slab of baby back ribs or a delicious pork roast, pork has got you covered from sunup till sundown.

This time of the year, however, at least in the cold-weather states, most of us hang up the barbecue tools and reach for the roasting pan when it comes to how we like our pork prepared. There’s nothing quite like a slice or two of succulent roasted pork with one of our favorite starch or vegetable side dishes.

The most common cuts of pork to roast are pork loins (including the chops that come from this area), butts and tenderloins. At Nino’s, the butchers also tell me that based on sales, our customers’ preference is exactly in that order.

So what makes a great pork roast?

Generally speaking, most “recipes” are about flavor, but their “methods” (that is, how they’re prepared and then cooked) are all about how moist, how tender, and to some degree, how appealing the roast on your dinner table will be. Recipes and their corresponding methods are essential to one another. However, I find that while many cooks are religious about following the proportions of recipe ingredients (by measuring each ingredient precisely), they are much less vigilant about the method by which a recipe is cooked.

And THAT can make ALL the difference.

Regardless of which cut of meat you choose, I can give you a few tips to help you enjoy your roast more than ever before and get the MOST out of your recipes.

Pork Points

  • Fat is not a bad thing. If your roast has a ⅛” to ¼” layer of fat on it, don’t trim it off until AFTER it has roasted. It will help keep your meat juicy and flavorful. It’s also why you see so many pork recipes with bacon wrapped on the outside. It’s as much for the fat that protects the interior juices as it is for the flavor.
  • Consider a rub on the outside surface of your roast. A rub will help create a “flavor seal” that will do two things:
  1. Lock in the interior juices
  2. Give the surface an additional delicious flavor
  • Sear your roast (on all sides) in a hot, non-stick skillet, with a very small bit of vegetable oil, before roasting. This will do a number of things, all of them good, including:
    1. Help lock in those juices
    2. Give the roast a GREAT color and taste
    3. Allow you to roast at a low temperature since you already have great exterior color
    4. Give you a moister and more tender meat
  • Roast the meat on a rack (off the pan’s surface) and at 325 F. The lower temperature gives you a juicer, moister meat with a greater yield and edge-to-edge “doneness” without over-roasting the crust.
  • Never cover the roast with a lid or foil. This creates steam, which does two bad things:
    1. Prevents the meat from browning properly
    2. Makes the meat tougher
  • After you remove the roast from the oven, let it rest for 10 minutes to help the interior juices re-hydrate evenly throughout the meat. Now, you’ll get edge-to-edge juiciness.
  • Perhaps most importantly, consider roasting your pork to a “doneness” less than 165 F (or well done). This last point can make a huge difference. Not to fear, however, even the USDA has come to see the light and finally re-issued its “doneness” recommendations for pork.

To see more, click here.

Looking for even more roasting tips? Check our Nino’s Roasting Tips right here.

So…? Ready to roast? Our butchers at Nino’s are hoping you’ll say YES because they have one more tempting addition to add to this year’s pork line-up.

We’ve recently introduced a set of three delicious, fully marinated pork tenderloins, which I know you’re going to love! Choose from Mongolian, Sweet & Sour and our super Ultimate Marinate.

All you have to do is sear, roast and enjoy.

Pig Out: Tips for Grilling Pork

If you love to grill, chances are you probably love grilled beef steaks, most any kind of grilled chicken and pork spare ribs; you may even enjoy grilled fish.

Of all those mentioned, it’s very possible that one could say that depending on how you cook your spare ribs, you’ve truly never grilled pork, for the slow cooked, “fall off the bone” type spare ribs that most people enjoy are really “barbecued” not grilled.

What’s the Difference Between Grilling and Barbecuing?

The term “grilling” refers to foods that are cooked quickly and directly over high heat. This extreme heat sears the surface of meat, sealing in the natural juices and creating a flavorful crust. A crust is a key difference. In general, the foods best suited to grilling are those which are tender and cook relatively quickly since the heat required for grilling is so intense. In general, temperatures above 300°F are typically used for grilling although grilling temperatures can typically reach 500°F or more.

“Barbecuing” refers to a slow cooking process using indirect, low-heat generated by smoldering logs or wood chips that in turn “smoke-cook” the food. Because foods tenderize when cooked slowly over low temperatures, (particularly when basted), some of the meats best suited for barbecuing are in fact the less expensive, less tender meats like ribs & briskets. The final barbecued products are tender, soft, and generally lack a crisp charred crust. The best temperatures for barbecuing are between 200°F and 300°F. If the temperature rises above 300°F, it is then considered grilling.

So let’s talk about how to actually grill pork because there are some important differences between how you grill pork and how you grill beef.

The most important difference is that pork is not marbled with fat throughout the flesh like most beef steaks are. As a result, pork can become dry and tough if not properly grilled. The very same thing can happen to fish.

What Types of Pork Can You Grill?

Now although you can grill any cut of pork, you want to choose the the most ones. And those would be Pork Tenderloin and Loin Chops.

Leaving the bone in your chops is not a bad idea either. Bones can help protect the meat around it from becoming dry and therefore tough as well.

You’ll also want to choose the right thickness of your meat.

Tenderloins are already the perfect thickness, and full of moisture, you’re all set there, we would suggest however, that your carefully slice off the silvery skin located at the thick end of the tenderloin. It is too tough to chew and is not fat, so it will not “melt” away.

Chops on the other hand need to be thick enough to retain their moisture while exposed to the high temperatures of the grill while they are being cooked to your preferred doneness. Too thin and they can become dry and tough, too thick and the outside part of the meat can also become overcooked and dry before the center of the meat is cooked the way you like it.

Ideally, for chops cooked on the grill, an average thickness of 1 inch is about right. If you like your chops more on the “medium” doneness side, you can go as thick as 1 ½”, or for more well done chops, as little as ¾”.

Brining Pork

You may have heard that brining (the slightly sweet and salty water solution) is a good way to pre-prepare pork to be grilled and or roasted. And that is generally true. Brining hydrates the pork with moisture and flavor and gives your meat all the chances of retaining much of that while it cooks. Having said that, unless your chops are on the thicker side (1 ¼” or more), you may introduce more flavor to the meat than you may care for. A little trial and error with a brine you like and the length of time you immerse it in that brine may achieve the results you’re looking for but be cautious of trying it for the very first time with a large crowd.

Using a Rub on Pork

A rub is another way to add flavor and seal in moisture.

Rubs are applied (topically) before grilling and although they don’t hydrate the meat itself, they help to retain what is already there. Every rub is different in its suggested amounts to be applied so read the directions carefully.

For more information about Marinates, Brines and Rubs, and some great recipes, click HERE.

How to Grill Pork

So you’ve selected your cut of pork and brined it, rubbed it or left it unseasoned (which is fine). The next important thing to do is select the correct temperature for your grill, and that would be 325 F to 350 F. The reason that is a good temperature is it will allow the meat to brown nicely in the same length of time it will take to cook to a medium well doneness. You can add 25 F to 50 F more heat if you like your pork doneness more on the medium side.

If you’re a little apprehensive about cooking your pork anything less than well done, you may be interested to know that the U.S.D.A. recently changed their recommendation for the safe cooking of pork. It’s something that you may want to read before that first chop hits the grill. It’s good news!

New U.S.D.A. Pork Cooking Guidelines

A reminder that before the “meat hits the metal” be sure to clean your grill well. You may also want to give both your grill surface and meat a light spray of non-stick vegetable oil to prevent the meat from sticking to the grill. A word of caution however, spraying oil on a hot grill can create momentary flare ups. Be careful.

The moment of truth has arrived. As you grill, keep these important points in mind:

  1. Be sure you have all your utensils, platters and condiments in place before you begin grilling so you can give the grill your FULL attention.
  2. Avoid skewering the meats with a fork as you grill. Puncturing the meat lets precious juices escape and makes the meat dry and tough.
  3. Avoid pressing the meats down onto the grill grates as you grill, it will also squeeze the moisture out of the meats and make them dry and tough.
  4. Best grilling practice is to turn the meats over only once. Excessive turning and handling creates the same issues as # 2 and # 3.
  5. If you are unsure of the doneness of your pork, use an Insta-read thermometer (which quickly gauges the temperature) and do so nearest the time you believe it may be done to avoid excessive juice loss. Insert it into the thickest part of the meat and away from any bone to be the truest and most accurate reading. The temperature readings for pork doneness are as follows:
  • 145 Medium
  • 150-155 Medium-Well
  • 160 and ↑ Well Done

Lastly, once your pork is grilled, allow it to rest on a warm platter for a few minutes before serving. This resting time will allow the meat to redistribute the juices evenly throughout each portion and give you a more moist and enjoyable experience.