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Pork 101

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PORK 101

The meat from the pig, an omnivorous mammal. The male is called a “boar”, the female a “sow”, and the young a “piglet” or “feeder”. There are various breeds of pig, including Yorkshire, Duroc, and Landrace. The demand for a less fatty pig has led to the development of breeds with 30%-50% less fat.

BUYING PORK

The most tender pork meat comes from the loin (back), from which tenderloin, roasts, and chops are taken. The meat from the leg and shoulder is less tender. Roasts are also taken from this area as well as different pieces; trotters, hocks, tail, etc.

Smoked picnic shoulder is sometimes incorrectly called “picnic ham”; the name “ham”, however, only applies to leg cuts. Bacon comes from the loin (back bacon or “Canadian bacon”) or the belly (slab or sliced bacon). Cured pork and fat pork (lardoons and bacon pieces), taken from the back fat and found between the flesh and the rind, come from the shoulder. The lean fat, where the fat is mingled with the lean meat, is taken from the side.

Pork lard is melted pork fat.

STORING PORK

In the fridge: ground,1-2 days; fresh chops and sausage, 2-3 days; roasts, deli cuts (opened containers) and cooked meat, 3-4 days.

In the freezer: chops and roasts, 8-10 months; sausages, 2-3 months; bacon and ham, 1-2 months; deli cuts, 1 month.

COOKING PORK

Always cook pork, as cooking is the only way (apart from irradiation) to kill the parasites that are potentially present in the flesh; cook until the internal temperature reaches 155°-165° (the flesh will be slightly pink).

To enhance the flavor of pork, season it before cooking or marinate it with a mixture of green peppercorns, mustard, onion citrus juice, soy sauce and herbs.

Avoid overcooking and, if the visible fat is removed, protect the flesh with a little fat, as it can dry out and become tough during cooking. Pork shoulder should be cooked at a gentle heat (250° in the oven or medium heat in a pan or on the barbecue for example).

Roasted, broiled or grilled, pan-fried: tender cuts (taken mainly from the loin).

Braised, simmered: less tender cuts (from the shoulder, leg or side).

Microwaved:  this method can result in uneven cooking; take the internal temperature of the meat at different places, using a thermometer to ensure it is completely cooked.

SERVING IDEAS FOR PORK

Pork is eaten fresh, salted or smoked. It is eaten hot or cold and always cooked (slightly pink). Ground pork used in burgers, meat loaves, meatballs and sausages should be eaten well-cooked to prevent food-borne illness. It is delicious prepared with fresh or dried fruits (chestnuts, pineapple, apple, orange, prune, grape or apricots).

DID YOU KNOW?

Pork is distinguished nutritionally by its levels of  thiamine (especially), riboflavin and niacin (B vitamins), which are higher than in other meats.

Photo: Meatshop.com

Photo: Meatshop.com

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