Pork: 101

We've all had dry, rubbery, tastes-like-sandpaper pork. It's one of the most common pieces of meat that gets over cooked, dried out, or just plain mistreated. And its criminal. Pork is delicious, abundant, and also very price conscious. It is also easy to cook very well, but also easy to screw up.  Pork is one of my favorite things to eat, and I try to suggest it to many of my clients. Especially those that are turned off by pork for non-religious reasons. The main complaint - its too dry, its boring, its ...whatever... But, when they are given a taste of perfectly cooked and seasoned pork, their opinions are quickly changed. 

My tips below will start a small manifest on how to treat pork. Starting with the Loin, where pork chops come from. And then into the next most common, pork shoulder, butt and country style chops. Ending with the fatty belly. 

Pork Loin - This common cut is mainly seen in Pork Chops. I love to use it for lots of applications. Its a great piece of meat, very lean, and very versatile.

Step 1: Season - This step can't be ignored. Whether you are marinating, brining, or dry rubbing, you MUST SEASON THE PORK. 

Pro-Tip: Use a wet marinade or Brine. I like to Brine my pork loins. Brining will add moisture and salt to the meat, making it less likely to dry out.  The key to a good brine is balancing salt, sugar and acid. I typically do a 1-1 ratio of salt and sugar, and then a decent amount of vinegar (apple cider preferred). 

Step 2: Temper before cooking - This is true for pretty much every piece of meat. Tempering is letting your meat come to room temperature before you cook.  This helps cook the meat evenly, which is essential in pork. I like to pull out my pork loin 60-90min before Im going to cook (4-10lb loin).  You can sear off to add a nice crust if desired before putting into the oven. 

Step 3: Don't over cook - Pork should be cooked Medium. I like to pull my loin out at 135-140*F. For a 4-6lb loin, I usually budget 40-45min in a 400* oven. Depending on the marinade, and thickness, Ill adjust the oven to 375* for 50-60min. But the loin shouldn't take much longer. 

Here are a few of my favorite pork recipes: 

Thai Brined Pork Loin - Super easy, healthy and packed full of flavor. I like building little lettuce cups with some pork, rice and sauce! 

Roast Pork Rack Loin - This is a 'wow' factor dish, but very easy to pull off. Great for holidays, special occasions and a larger crowd! Photo Credit: Shea Evans Photography

Pork Chile Verde - This uses the shoulder cut. A little different process, but very simple. Great for taco night! - Photo Credit Shea Evans Photography

About the Author

Chef Kellan Hori

After six years in the kitchen and many extraordinary events, Kellan has become more than a chef, he’s cooking up experiences. From small intimate dinner parties, cooking lessons, and family meals to large corporate bar-b-ques, beer dinners, and holiday soirées, the Kitchen has it covered. Kellan and crew are not just cooks and servers, they’re hosts, cocktail gurus, and burgeoning sommeliers. With a focus always on the food, Kellan’s Kitchen also pays great attention to hosting, vibe, comfort and the vision of the host. Everyone must walk out with a smile, full belly, and sometimes a nice buzz.