Slow Cooker Pulled Pork - Detail - ©

Pork Myths And Legends III: Some Classic Recipes…

Over the past couple of days , I’ve been gently re-introducing some of you out there to amazing Pork. Read on, now, if you’ve been letting Beef and Chicken crowd out your Pork awareness and that of other major foods we used to take for granted as part of our ‘native’ cuisine…

Pork Chops Soaking - © cookingwithsugar.comThinly-cut ‘Fast Fry’ Pork Chops resting in a rich
marinade of Garlic, Fresh Herbs and Spices…

Today, in Part III of my Pork retrospective, I want to refresh you on some classic Pork presentations that demonstrate how faulty the major, traditional objections to ‘the other white meat’ really are and start your creative juices flowing.

I’ll begin with one of my favourite Pork presentations giving a how-to and suggesting some ‘extension’ applications. Then I’ll continue with progressively fancier prep and cooking techniques. Consider this post a jumping off place for a grand safari in the wilds of Pork Country, where you’ll explore new vistas and discover just how yummy and versatile Pork can be!

Pork Chops ‘Expanded’

By expanded, I mean two separate things. First, I mean physically expanded. Second, I mean conceptually expanded. Let’s go…

To physically expand Pork, I start with lean centre-cut Pork Loin (boneless) Chops and trim of any excessive or gristly fat from the outside edges.

Then, I go at them with a meat hammer and flatten them as if I was making a Veal Cutlet. I like mine to be a uniform 0.5 cm / 3/8 in. if possible, with no ragged edges, holes or thin spots. This your basic Cutlet.

From here, you can B and cooked through), and then let them rest a minute or two while preparing for the next step. If we were using a classic flow chart to illustrate the ‘project’, this would be a mult-choice point where we have an array of opportunities to choose from, including a traditional Cutlet plate, a Pork Cutlet Sandwich (on a nice, fancy bun ), or a spread of Pork Cutlet Strips tossed in a bold Asian Sauce and served on top of a fresh, piping-hot Stir Fry

I’ve even drawn a round of applause for a Tex-Mex Pork presentation with a full or Fasita-stripped Pork Cutlet accompanied by a selection of freshly seared Southwestern Veggies, warm, Flexible White Corn Tortillas ( or Crispy Taco Sells) and the usual condiments and trimmings. This is one of my fave Pork dishes.

As you can see, the conceptual expansion of a Pork Cutlet is really entirely up to your fertile imagination!

Go low and slow…

Here we’re focusing on the opportunities offered by Smoking, BBQing or Slow Roasting of larger, thicker cuts of Pork. Regardless of your choice of cooking method, I recommend you start with a nice piece of Pork with a generous fat cap and be prepared to cook it for at least 6 (and as much as 8) hours, at a temp of 300 to 325 F.

One of the best ways to add flavour to this Roast is to rub its lean side with a mix of classic Pork herbs and spices, and allow to rest for a few hours (or better, overnight) flat side up in a Pyrex casserole dish. This is the time to add a generous amount Salt and Pepper, but don’t go crazy. Just remember, you’re seasoning a whole Roast!

At cooking time, turn over the Roast in the casserole dish so it’s Fat-side up and add a liquid cooking marinade with Fresh Pineapple Juice and more of the same Herbs and spices to the dish. Half an inch in the bottom of the pan will be just fine; more if you want it, and consider basting fun. Cook covered for half the planned time (4 hours min recommended) then remove the cover and allow the Roast to brown deeply on top for another 3-4 hours, basting occasionally as desired, until the meat is fall-apart tender.

If you’re planning on BBQing or smoking, cook the Meat Fat side up directly on the grill at a temp of 250 – 300 F for three or 4 hours, then transfer to a casserole dish to finish cooking in the oven at 300 – 350 F, as described above. Baste frequently during both halves of the cooking time, then remove from the oven to rest under a foil tent for up to half an hour, while you put the finishing touches on the rest of your meal.

Remove the remains of the fat cap and set aside. Pour off the rendered fat and juices from the bottom of the pan. Separate the fat from the juice and reserve the juice. Reserve the fat if you like to cook other foods in it like you would Bacon Grease).

After resting, the Roast can easily be shredded and the bones removed. Add back the reserved Juice and mix the whole casserole dish up well to distribute it.

Serve any way you’d present Pulled Pork and just let eveyone dig in, family style, from big bowls of Kernel Corn, Rice, Refried Beans and other goodies. DO have Taco Shells on hand for those who want them. And assume many diners will want to make their own gorgeous, messy Pulled Pork Sandwiches (on lovely, soft, warmed Buns that you provide).

Braise for bursting flavour

One of the most beloved ways to make a tough cut of Beef fork tender and amazingly flavourful is Braising. This technique works well for Pork, too, ensuring moist, tender meat with tons of flavour.

Sear 1 in. / 2.5 cm cubes for a couple of minutes until they are nicely browned on all sides and a gorgeous layer of brown flavour has started to evolve on the bottom of your deep-sided pan. Pre-searing is your one best chance to season the meat to ensure the Salt, Pepper and other spices you want to add are properly absorbed by the meat.

Add root veggies of your preference, at least 1.2 cup / 125 m Wine, Red or White, depending on your flavour preference (strong or lighter-weight) and whether you want a dark or light-coloured final product. Add, also , Veal or Beef stock to bring the liquid level up to at least 1/2. in / 1.5 cm.

Cover lightly and let cook on med low for up to 4 hours, stirring now and then, until the liquid has reduced to a nice, rich, flavour-filled reduction sauce. Add more wine or stock along the way, and reduce the cooking temp by 15 – 25 F if the liquid level reduces itself too rapidly.

The finished product can be served as is in a soup bowl, or over Rice or Noodles (à la Beef Stroganoff), or however you want to present it…

And there you have it!

You can take off from there experimenting with Soups and Stews and other dishes from virtually any cuisine that strikes your fancy. Add don’t forget to let the kids and your adult diners suggest even more great ways to serve these classic preparations of Pork!

~ Maggie J.