Pork, in my opinion, is a highly undervalued meat. You can get a decent brisket for £3-5 and a pork shoulder steak is generally less than a pound. Yet even at these low prices you don’t really see everyone rushing out to buy pork, other than in the sausage form. This could perhaps be partly down to those memories of tough as leather boots pork chops with lumps of gristle and little flavour and although I hope to in this article provide some ways of cooking pork in a soft, flavoursome manner I am yet to discover a way of completely avoiding the gristle problem.
In cooking pork chops would recommend soaking them in an ice full, salt water with lemon juice and perhaps a bit of white wine vinegar for a couple of hours before cooking. This provides a little towards the flavour but mainly works on softening up the meat. When cooking you could fry, grill or cook it in the oven, I quite like it cooked in the oven but I know that a lot of people like the browning on the outside of the pork so frying can work well too, just remember to season well with pepper. I find grilling can toughen the meat but that could just be me. I must admit though that despite my attempts I am still not the biggest fan of pork chops although when combined with a good sauce; maybe a honey and chilli glaze, a BBQ or tomato sauce or perhaps a gravy, it can be OK.
When cooking a pork loin or brisket slow cooking can be really nice if you quarter some onions and adding some stock, cover the brisket in a mustard, mustard seed, fennel seed, thyme and rosemary mix . If you don’t have time for that though I would cover it in the same mix and then cook until medium in the oven and then strain of the juices into a pan of cooked chopped onions and garlic and boil up adding some wine to make it into a sauce. to go with the pork. When preparing a pork loin there can be a fatty membrane around bits of the meat, I try to remove most of this before cooking .
When cooking pork shoulder steaks I like to add a bit of spice. When preparing the pork I create a marinade of about:
- 6 garlic cloves
- 1/2 cup of chilli and garlic oil
- a couple of chilli
- a tsp of smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp of gara masala
- 1/2 tsp of ground ginger
After marinading for an hour or two I would then fry it in the marinade for about 10 minutes. I serve with a BBQ sauce which you could just buy. I made mine using roughly:
- 2 tbsp tomato sauce
- 2 tbsp tomato puree
- 2 tsp smoke paprika
- some of the leftover marinade in the pan
- a splash of white wine vinegar
- a dash of lemon juice
- 1-2 tbsp of honey, judge by taste.
So there they are, my top tips in making the most of pork. I have manage to feed 3 with full dinner of pork, potatoes and a veg for less than £5 altogether.