Hi, Ryan here, and I gotta tell ya, I think I am finally ready for some pumpkin spice coffee. Because you see, it may be time to finally give in, Fall is (per the calendar) officially here! With the arrival of Fall comes our Autumn batch of pork. In just a few weeks, the woodlot pork gets turned into some savory bacon.
A number of you, our customers, will be picking up their bulk pork orders soon, so I wanted to share with you 3 methods that we use to cook our pork here on the farm. I want to take the most common cuts of pork, and give you our favorite ways to cook them, along with some handy cooking tips. Because we want to help you make some smiling faces around your dinner table. So here we go!
Best for: When you have some extra time to cook and you are craving that smoky, grilled flavor.
Well, I’m a guy, so it’s no coincidence that I’ve listed this cooking method first. I mean what guy doesn’t like to fire up the grill and throw some meat on? Right?!
But before I tell you my favorite cuts of pork to cook on the grill, let’s talk best grilling practices first.
It seems that, not too long ago, everybody was moving away from the charcoal grills, and over to the shiny, propane grills. I mean, with charcoal, it is sort of messy, and takes time to light and heat up and all that. Yet now it seems like we are seeing a big shift back to charcoal grilling again, especially with big names like Trager and Green Egg making their mark on this tasty method of cooking.
I gotta tell you, I think it is for the better. Charcoal grilled meats just have such a depth to them, with the smoke flavor that is literally infused into the meat.
Whether you use a charcoal or propane grill, the key to really tender, flavorful meat is low and slow! Don’t crank that heat all the way up! You will dry up that tender piece of pork and are more likely to burn it.
When we grill, we light the charcoal, let it get mostly gray, and then close the air vent, while trying to get the temperature down to around 225-250 degrees Fahrenheit. Almost like a smoker. Then we put the meat on.
So what pork cuts go best on the grill?
Yup, this is in my opinion, the best was to cook a ham. You may be used to cooking ham in the oven, but once you try it slow cooked on the grill, you just may be converted too. Our hams are already smoked, so you will be even further enhancing that rich, smoky flavor.
Now remember, low and slow, otherwise you will dry it out. For a 10lb ham, plan on cooking it for 3-4 hours, so do this on a weekend, or when you have time to spare.
Keep a meat thermometer handy, you are looking for an internal temp of at least 145 degrees Fahrenheit. And when it is done, let it rest! By letting it rest for at least 10 minutes after taking it off the heat, you are allowing the juices to soak back into the meat.
Grilled sausage? Yes please! Now if you are in a rush and are looking for some breakfast protein, pan frying up some sausage is the way to go. But if you aren’t in a big rush, sausage cooked low and slow on the grill is simply amazing, especially when we are talking Italian sausage!
Tenderloin is a true pork delicacy, and often, it’s put in the oven to cook. And while that produces a fine flavor, it’s honestly a little boring to this fella.
Tenderloin, while of course very tender, can sometimes lack a robust flavor. Solution? Put it in a marinade! This is an easy way to help infuse flavor. Couple that with the charcoal smoke (if you use a charcoal grill) and voila, you have a delicious cut of meat. You can easily google plenty of marinade recipes, or if you are short on time, you can go with a premade, bottled marinade. Take your first bite and then… you will think you have died and gone to meat heaven!
Best for: when you are in a rush and need a quick weeknight meal.
I continue to hear people all the time tell me that they don’t have an Instapot! That sounds like craziness to me, but if you don’t have one, you may want to splurge a little and go get one! They are perfect for a quick and easy weeknight meal.
I mean, whoever it was that thought to combine a crockpot and a pressure cooker was a genius, (and a very wealthy genius by now too)! I mean, I can take a frozen solid piece of meat, and have it ready for the dinner table in under an hour! That’s speedy!
The other thing that really makes the Instapot a favorite of ours is it’s ability to take a tougher cut of meat and tenderize it with the high pressure setting. Quick and tender… that’s a win win situation!
So what pork cuts go best in the Instapot?
Pork Chops & Ham Steaks
Everybody wants to pan fry pork chops and ham steaks. I mean that’s how we used to do it… until we got an InstaPot that is! Pork chops and ham steaks are so easy to overcook, especially when pan frying, and then they can get tough.
For a super quick evening meal, just put in your chops or ham steak with some sauce, such as your favorite BBQ sauce or French Salad Dressing, a few tablespoons of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar (to tenderize the meat further), and maybe some spices like garlic or onion powder and some water. Thirty to forty minutes later (on high pressure), and dinner is served!
Shoulder roasts are often split into two different names, “boston butts” and “picnic” roasts. Or sometimes the butcher will just label it as a “shoulder roast”.
Either way ,have you ever tried to cook a pork shoulder roast before? It can intimidate many people, because it can come out so tough! But there is so much flavor there, because where there is lots of movement on an animal, (like the pig’s shoulder) there will also be tons of flavor. Down side is, if not cooked using the right method, it can be a rather tough cut of meat.
That’s why it is the cut of choice for those who do pit-style pulled pork, it’s almost like a challenge to see how tender they can get it. If they can get it tender, it’s a real win because of how much flavor the meat has.
It’s also why the pork shoulder is the perfect cut of meat for an Instapot. This method can tenderize that meat in no time, and with very little effort. I like to dry rub the roast before putting it in the Instapot, and add a little water in the pot before turning it on to cook.
Alternatively, you can use some apple cider vinegar in place of the water. It will give the meat a more tangy flavor, and the acid of the vinegar can work really well to help break down the protein of the meat, giving you a fall-apart shoulder roast.
Stove Top/Pan Fry Cooking
B-A-C-O-N – B-A-C-O-N – B-A-C-O-N
So there you have it, our favorite ways to cook common pork cuts. I hope this was helpful, and sparked some new cooking ideas for you! Do you have any cooking tips for pork? Please share them below, we’re always looking for new tips and tricks to create scrumptious meals with pork.