Do you want to hear a secret? I’m terrified of cooking ribs. I have two packages of ribs in my freezer, and I don’t know what to do with them!
When we talked about beef, we established that I’m really not all that creative when it comes to cooking much more than ground beef or steaks. It turns out the same is true for pork! I’m a fan of using bulk sausage in place of ground beef at times, and I love to throw some pork chops or a big ham steak on the grill. And I do love my bacon… But that’s pretty much where it ends.
Pork Checkoff to the rescue!
Their website tells you which cuts of pork come from which parts of the pig, what are the best options for cooking, and even some “Butcher Tips” for the best ways to handle the meat! When you choose the cut you are interested in, you’ll see recommended recipes.
Here’s my cheat sheet for ribs… No more excuses!
They also have two handy printable flyers. This one shows the different cuts of pork and which part of the pig they are from.
This printable lists the recommended cooking temperatures and cooking times for different cuts of meat with different cooking methods.
And the most exciting thing about cooking with pork? In 2011, the USDA revised the recommended cooking temperature for pork from 160 degrees Fahrenheit down to 145 degrees Fahrenheit.
The recommended temperature used to be 160 degrees. When pigs were mainly raised outdoors, they frequently had parasites called Trichinella. These parasites lived in their muscles (meat). Pork needed to be cooked to 160 degrees to kill any parasites that might be present so people did not get infected. While this was important for human health, it usually meant dried out pork chops. Now that pigs are primarily raised indoors, they are no longer exposed to Trichinella, and it is no longer a health risk for people. So, the recommended internal temperature has been lowered. It turns out, pork cooked to 145 degrees is much more tender and juicy than pork cooked to 160 degrees!
(We’ll talk a little more about why pigs are raised indoors in a post next week. Come back to check it out!)
Will you try something new to celebrate National Pork Month?