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Worried about gamey taste in pork roast

I want to make a pork roast using a fatty piece of meat like the shoulder, the type that needs slow cooking for a long time until it falls apart. My wife tells me that this cut of pork can sometimes be gamey, and wants me to use a different cut like the loin, which is really a very different kind of dish. To allay her concern, is there something I can do to prevent the meat from acquiring a gamey taste, for instance, marinating it in white vinegar before roasting? If so, how much vinegar and for how long?

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  1. What does she mean "gamey?" It seems to me it tastes like pork! However, rather than vinegar, try marinating it in milk overnight.

    1. Actually, I would not marinate the pork in white vinegar. That will almost cook it. Have you smelled the meat? If there is an off smell, even though you know the meat is ultra fresh, you could probably concoct a marinade with roughly chopped garlic, olive oil,
      soy sauce, brown sugar, minced ginger, 1/4 cup bourbon .....Or any other combination you can envision. Frankly, I have never had a pork shoulder that tasted gamey. But then, I buy lean organic meat.

      1. I think her fear is misplaced. If it is pork shoulder, either the picnic, the butt, or the whole shoulder, it should not taste gamey like venison or any other game meat. I would recommend you remove the skin, but leave the fat, use a rub only, (many choices possible here) and slow smoke or slow roast til it hits about 195-200 internal temp. It will fall apart (pulled pork). You can add sauce of choice. If you take it to about 180 or so, you will be able to slice it and it will be a fine pork roast.

        4 Replies
        1. re: woodburner

          I agree with all of the above. "Gamey" can only refer to game animals or birds and it is a word used to describe the unfamiliarity to the taste of game birds and animals. Pork is not a game animal and does not have a gamey flavor.

          1. re: scoopG

            pork can be a game animal, true?

            1. re: alkapal

              The meat of the game animal is usually called wild boar rather than pork.

        2. Shoulder is a fatty piece of pork and sometimes that fat has a flavor that some people describe as "gamey" for lack of a better word. It just tastes strong to them and the taste is often stronger than the fat from other parts of the pig or from other pigs. Hey, all pigs aren't created equal. They aren't cookie cutter critters.
          You can't slow-cook loin because it's too lean and it gets too dry. Scratch that idea.
          My daughter and I have both had great luck with this recipe from Mark Bittman, printed in the NYT. It's for only a 2 pound shoulder but we always multiply it and often start it on the grill for smokey flavor and finish in the oven or do the whole thing in the oven. The leftovers freeze well. The results are non-greasy enough that your wife probably won't have a problem and the citrus really makes a difference too. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage...

          2 Replies
          1. re: MakingSense

            Pork shoulder (AKA pork butt, or Boston pork butt) is also used for the Cantonese style BBQ Roast Pork - never gamey at all. I am glad MakingSense you were able to find the right size pork shoulder - a two pound piece of pork shoulder (yet another NYT recipe with an impossible to get ingredient) doesn't exist in Manhattan. I've tried. My local butcher says there is no such cut as a two pound piece unless one goes to the Bronx. He can get me pork shoulder but I'd have to take the whole cut, perhaps a 5-7 pound chunk.

            1. re: scoopG

              "Gamey" is a word that people use for lack of a better word. Imprecision of language. My mother used to use it when all she meant was stronger than she liked or expected. Nothing more. No reference to wild game. Some cuts of domestic meat seem that way to some people because many are used to bland stuff these days. The shoulder sometimes can since it's fattier and I've been served some that either came that way or weren't cooked particularly well. I don't mind it but some do. Some people don't like dark meat poultry, certain cuts of beef, offal, lamb, etc. for the same reason.

              My butcher gives me the same line about the Boston butt too. My family in another city always bought it with no problem. Here, I buy the entire piece and cook the whole thing or have it boned and freeze what I don't use for another time. We just have to live with it I guess.

          2. strong pork shoulder flavor: "porky" -- not "gamey". it is fatty in itself, and i would recommend removing excess fatty skin before cooking/braising....i use the cut for pulled pork bbq with sauce.

            loin is totally inappropriate for long, slow roasts. as mentioned, way too lean.

            1. I agree that you should not marinate in vinegar. Instead try the Zuni mock porchetta recipe linked at the bottom of this post:

              Note that the book recipe calls for a 2.5-3 lb. roast.

              The flavor is intensely porky, the meat is melting, and the caramelized bark is very savory and delicious. Nothing gamey about it to me. I find standard pork loin to be bland in comparison.

              Alternatively, you could try milk-braised pork (some recipes call for shoulder while others use loin). Good sources are Marcella Hazan, Molly Stevens (All About Braising), and Anthony Bourdain (Les Halles).

              1. You can brine it just like turkey or chicken, add some garlic, not too much salt or sugar, I taste my brine to make sure it's not too salty or sugary and I leave the pork in for 12 to 24 hours and it makes the best roast. You can also add some soy sauce, a tablespoon of vinegar.

                1 Reply
                1. re: TDEL

                  tdel, what do you do with all the surface fat, and internal large sections of fat?

                2. My immediate reaction is that the term gamey is misplaced. Any meat, from a creature from the wild will taste of what it had been eating. Most meats we get, even "free range" have had their diets very carefully monitored.
                  I agree about the different cuts and the fat. The meat from any animal will have different qualities, depending on what part of the carcass it's from, including taste and texture.


                  1. your wife is correct ...it can... if the pork is from a boar thats been gelded to
                    close to slaughter then all the male hormones will still be in the muscle and it will taste verry "gamey". this should not happen in a reputible supplier but sometimes they sneek by... i know this post was a long time ago but i thought you might like to know. Ignore all the previous
                    replys as they are incorrect :)

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: anyoltime

                      as a side note...to test the shoulder cut a pice off and cook it to temperature in a pan you will know right away what the flavor is going to be like.
                      also... no amount of sauce or marinating can cover that "flavor".