With colder weather coming on, there’s no “stick to the ribs” food like pork!
Cool weather and pork just seem to go together, so what better month to have a tasty pork dish than October?
Today’s pork is a much leaner product than we had when I was growing up, which means that more care must be taken in cooking it so it doesn’t dry out. This is easier to do than it was in the past, because we no longer have to cook it until it’s tough.
Back in the day, trichinosis, a parasite-induced disease, was a very real possibility because of the sometimes unsanitary conditions in which some pork was raised. Some pork farmers would literally feed their stock garbage, which promoted the disease.
Today’s farming methods are much more sanitary due to federal regulations under which the animals are raised, so pork consumption is safer, with trichinosis much less of a threat.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) now recommends that solid cuts of pork, like roasts and chops, be cooked to an internal temperature of at least 145 degrees, so these cuts can even be slightly pink.
Ground pork, however, like all ground meals, should be cooked to at least 160 degrees.
To test doneness, just use an instant-read thermometer.
Of course, if you prefer, you can cook your cut above the recommended temperature, but be sure you don’t overcook it and run the risk of drying it out.
Here are a couple of my favorite recipes, including a couple from the National Pork Board:
My mom’s breaded pork chops
One quarter-loin pack of pork chops
2 cups herbed bread crumbs
1/4 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. dried parsley
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/4 tsp. coarse ground pepper
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 T water
Olive oil for frying
Crack the eggs into a wide, shallow bowl, beat lightly with a fork and add the water, beating lightly to combine. Spread the crumbs in a layer on a plate, add the herbs, garlic salt and pepper and blend well. Dip the chops in the egg wash on both sides, then dip the chops in the crumbs to coat both sides well. Fry the chops in a large frying pan in about 1/2 inch of oil. Fry on medium heat until each side is golden brown, adding oil as needed. As they’re done, transfer the chops to an oven-proof plate and keep warm in a pre-heated 200 degree oven until ready to serve.