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Rare Pork

Soop Nov 17, 2008 06:51 AM

Who here cooks their pork pink? I used to really dislike pork because of its dry chewy texture, but when I cooked some porkchops slightly rare one time, they were incredible!

Then the thing I always get is "Nope. You can't do that because you'll get lysteria."

I don't have a meat thermometer, but I always grade it by cutting it open at the middle, and checking it's not too pink, that steam is coming out of the cut (piping hot) and that it's hot to the touch. I'd guess it's about 5 minutes per side in the pan, then about 5-7 under the grill.

What's your tip for safety, a juicy pork chop, and also larger pork joints?

(BTW, safety first, ground/minced pork should always be thoroughly cooked).

  1. l
    lcool Nov 19, 2008 06:49 AM

    Most reasonable safety issues are met at 140* f.I use a thermometer,pull the meat for stand time at 120* > 125* f.
    The USDA guidelines are to "kill" all potential cooties,in addition to to killing flavor and texture.
    The fine line between well done and over cooked for modern pork is awful if crossed and plated up.

    1. The Professor Nov 17, 2008 07:58 AM

      Pork shouldn't be dry and chewy even when cooked through unless it's really overcooked. The real problem is that the quality of pork has declined a LOT in recent years as a result of the industrial producers/packers selling a leaner (and as a result, inferior) product. Try to get your hands on some more traditionally raise and well marbled pork...the difference is a revelation.

      12 Replies
      1. re: The Professor
        paulj Nov 17, 2008 08:24 AM

        Lean and inferior are not synonymous, though I do realize that beef is graded on the degree of marbling.

        I thought that the main reason that the current pork is leaner is that there is less demand for pork fat (lard), and most consumers prefer lean pork. Is pork ever marbled in the sense the beef is? Isn't most of the pork fat on the surface (under skin), and between major muscle groups, as opposed to being distributed among the fibers? Another way to put it - if I were to compare a trimmed tenderloin from a lean pig with one from a bacon-oriented strain, what difference would I see and taste?

        1. re: paulj
          The Professor Nov 17, 2008 09:02 AM

          Regarding lean vs. fatty for pork, it's just my opinion of course (shared by a lot of other folks though).
          Some consumers probably do prefer lean pork, in part because of the "other white meat" marketing campaign (the best, traditional pork is actually darker in color). Many of these consumers are the same ones that substitute turkey burger for beef, blissfully and humorously unaware that some ground turkey products have just as much fat as beef.
          Most of the lean supermarket pork however is "enhanced" , with a salt and phosphate brine. Real, traditionally raised pork from the fattier breeds doesn't need this treatment and tastes infinitely better, and the fat definitely contributes to this. Good pork would show some marbleing, even in cuts like the loin. Besides the superior flavor, it tends to be naturally moister and more tender.
          Maybe with the way most Americans eat, it is necessary to go for less fatty meats. As for me, I would definitely rather eat less meat and when I do have it, enjoy the "real deal".

          1. re: The Professor
            lcool Nov 19, 2008 06:42 AM

            The ground turkey at $5.99 per pound : as you said just as fatty,don't forget it is way more of a contamination risk than almost anything else in the meat case.
            Add on enhanced pork is a 10% meat loss for your $ (although it is a much lower
            % of pork in the case than "most")
            HERITAGE PORK is marbled,dark as domestic goose or duck.The pork I trade for is forest raised with a small supplement of extra feed.The pigs are Duroc boar
            with a Hareem of Tamworth sows,two very old forest breeds,amazing flavor.The marbling is nearly equal to fine beef.
            I don't know what Berkshire prices are,but forest fed is $5.00 > $8.00 per pound.
            In my oppinion affordable,in line with local meat prices.

          2. re: paulj
            soupkitten Nov 17, 2008 10:23 AM

            get some berkshire roasts and compare to those from a quick-raised commercial pig, should answer the question easily.

            1. re: soupkitten
              paulj Nov 17, 2008 10:28 AM

              for how much a pound? Who, nationally, carries them? Whole Paycheck?

              1. re: paulj
                soupkitten Nov 17, 2008 10:40 AM

                ooh. good questions. i guess that was a little easy for me to say--

                let's see: seattle? here's one retail source near you, Paulj, i think(?)


                or check local farmer's mkts-- maybe someone else would know more info. i think WFM's stock is different, regionally, and other national chain supermarkets aren't really in my area.

            2. re: paulj
              lcool Nov 19, 2008 06:18 AM

              Factory pork in the grocery stores: is the result of much very selective breeding for
              "PALE AND LEAN".A situation that makes as much flavor sense as modern domestic turkey.So the end product has had the flavor bred OUT.

              1. re: paulj
                Ruth Lafler Nov 19, 2008 09:20 AM

                Well, tenderloin is a bad example, because it tends not to be marbled. But with chops, there is definitely a huge variation on how much marbling there is: some have almost none, while others are streaked through. I usually only buy chops when I find some with good marbling and I cook them no more than medium.

                Pork is leaner because pork fat has been demonized by the health fascists (the same ones who told everyone to cook it to death), so producers started raising pigs that were bred to be leaner. Go get some Berkshire, Duroc or Kurobuta pork and you can tell the difference.

                1. re: Ruth Lafler
                  soupkitten Nov 19, 2008 09:33 AM

                  just to clarify, berkshire and kurobuta are the same thing. kurobuta is the japanese name for a berkshire pig.

                  1. re: soupkitten
                    Ruth Lafler Nov 19, 2008 10:04 AM

                    I thought so, but I wasn't sure, and you'll see it sold under both labels.

              2. re: The Professor
                vtnewbie Nov 18, 2008 03:47 AM

                Amen Professor. The one size fits all philosophy has ruined our country. Give me a big fat chop. From all the tests, I appear to thrive on it.

                As my 96-year old uncle says, while digging into a big meaty breakfast, "If folks get outside and scratch in the dirt a little and work up a sweat every day, they can eat their old fat meat."

                1. re: The Professor
                  RGC1982 Nov 19, 2008 02:16 PM

                  I agree on this. You can cook it through, which is my preference, without cremating it and turning it into something chewy.

                  I dislike the smell of undercooked or barely cooked pork. It can make me ill. Not so with beef, so I am sure this is cultural.

                2. j
                  Janet from Richmond Nov 17, 2008 07:36 AM

                  I like pork medium rare to medium. Dh is great at getting pork to the perfect doneness. Ironically, he consistently overcooks my steaks to the point where I'd much rather have a steak out as I can get it rare to medium rare rather than close to well done.

                  1. b
                    bnemes3343 Nov 17, 2008 07:33 AM

                    Definitely not past medium for me.

                    1. Soop Nov 17, 2008 07:31 AM

                      I found this: http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?s...
                      It's Trichinea that dies at 137, although apparantly salmonella and Listeria take a slightly higher temperature. However...

                      The problem with pork and poultry over beef and lamb are the fibrous nature of the meat. Lamb and beef are compact fibres, and can be cooked rare (as joints) because bacteria stays on or near the surface. Pork and poultry need to be cooked through all the way.

                      Now I'd imagine that a chop would be safer because the heat is transferred through the bone, cooking the meat throughout slightly more evenly.

                      1. jouleman Nov 17, 2008 07:03 AM

                        I cook loin and thick chops this way. I love it medium. Remains very juicy and can cut with a fork. Have not ever been sick from it. I cook it till internal temp 140 F. Used to hear it had to be 160 F. Might as well put some laces on it and wear as a new shoe. I think your times are right. However I always slow cook on the BBQ grill with radiant heat (opposite side of heat source) or roast mine in oven.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: jouleman
                          Soop Nov 17, 2008 07:20 AM

                          Yah, I hear it's 160F. I wonder if there are any scientists/chefs who can definitively set us straight. Sounds like I'm cooking at about 140 too, unless the grill cooks it differently.

                          By the way folks, I'd feel bad if anyone took anything in this thread as gospel and got sick, so make sure you get expert advice.

                          1. re: Soop
                            danhole Nov 17, 2008 07:30 AM

                            I like my pork a bit pink, too. It is so juicy and flavorful that way. Here is a link about the safety of pork. We used to be afraid of trichinosis (sp?) but that is not a problem like it used to be. You have to go to the bottom of the page to read that tidbit.


                            1. re: Soop
                              steinpilz Nov 19, 2008 07:18 PM

                              Scientist/chef here, no real opinion on 140 vs 160F, but my understanding is that "tric" isn't an issue anymore.

                              With more heat, more of the protein machines in meat cells and in bacteria/parasites will twist into inactive shapes -- killing the bacteria/parasites and preventing spoiling of meat. If there is a significant/dangerous difference between 140 and 160F I am unfamiliar with it... I've made butter-poached lobster around 140F and so must feel this temp is ok.

                              I usually make blackened porkchops using Emeril's essence, cook one side until moisture appears on top. then turn.

                              Occasionally these will be medium to medium rare... I don't think M-MR pork is really anything especially good though and I sort of like the chewy texture of more done pork.

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