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Old 12-12-2011, 08:43 PM   #1
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Avoiding tough pork

I hope this is an okay forum to post this. I've been a vegetarian for years, but my husband is not, so I'm trying to learn how to cook for him. I'm so NOT a chef by any means, but I'm having fun learning how. Last night I took some pork loin, and in a skillet, cooked in on the stovetop with a sauce of orange juice, maple syrup, and curry. The flavor was wonderful, but my husband said the meat was kind of tough.

Is there any way I could have prevented that from happening?

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Old 12-12-2011, 09:06 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Miss Liberty View Post
I hope this is an okay forum to post this. I've been a vegetarian for years, but my husband is not, so I'm trying to learn how to cook for him. I'm so NOT a chef by any means, but I'm having fun learning how. Last night I took some pork loin, and in a skillet, cooked in on the stovetop with a sauce of orange juice, maple syrup, and curry. The flavor was wonderful, but my husband said the meat was kind of tough.

Is there any way I could have prevented that from happening?
Yes, hit him across the face with the skillet before he can say anything.


You probably just cooked it too much. It's a learning curve. And cooking a pork chop is not like cooking a pork loin, so it's a steeper learning curve. It's even tougher because of your lack of experience, or for you trying the meat yourself to set a goal, or end result. You'll get the hang ot it, but it wouldn't hurt for him to lend a hand either, so the blame doesn't lie entirely on you.
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Old 12-12-2011, 09:12 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by pacanis View Post
Yes, hit him across the face with the skillet before he can say anything.


You probably just cooked it too much. It's a learning curve. And cooking a pork chop is not like cooking a pork loin, so it's a steeper learning curve. It's even tougher because of your lack of experience, or for you trying the meat yourself to set a goal, or end result. You'll get the hang ot it, but it wouldn't hurt for him to lend a hand either, so the blame doesn't lie entirely on you.
Thank you for the wonderful encouragement. My husband does most of the cooking for the two of us, and he's very gracious in his compliments. But when I ask him how it tastes I'm hoping for honesty on his part. We both put in some long hours during the day (I'm a first year teacher and he's a game warden), but he often puts in more than I do, so I want to take care of him.

I can see where I might have cooked it too long. I was just so concerned about serving him raw pork that I made sure it didn't happen.
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Old 12-12-2011, 09:59 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Miss Liberty

Thank you for the wonderful encouragement. My husband does most of the cooking for the two of us, and he's very gracious in his compliments. But when I ask him how it tastes I'm hoping for honesty on his part. We both put in some long hours during the day (I'm a first year teacher and he's a game warden), but he often puts in more than I do, so I want to take care of him.

I can see where I might have cooked it too long. I was just so concerned about serving him raw pork that I made sure it didn't happen.
Welcome to DC!

As long as it's not too pink, you don't have to worry about undercooking pork anymore. There was a fear, years ago, about trichimosis. It's been pretty much gone for a long time.

Check out some of the pork loin recipes here on DC. And if you hit your DH with the skillet, the question would be cast iron or stainless steel. Nonstick doesn't work as well.
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Old 12-12-2011, 11:21 PM   #5
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Pork loin is very lean so it can be dried out fast. One way to assure it slides down nicely is to slice it thinly and give it a quick fry. Then cover it with a desired sauce. The sauce keeps it moist. A big thick piece of pork loin can be quite boring IMHO.
I would have sliced it thinly, browned it on both sides on med high for 2 minutes a side, removed it to a separate plate, make your sauce in the same pan, scrape the bottom clean, then when your sauce has reached the desired result, add your pork slices back and finish them off for a 3 or 4 more minutes on a low simmer. Voila!
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Old 12-13-2011, 02:22 AM   #6
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One thing you could try is brining it. I've had one that had been brined, and it was very succulent. Here's what I usually do with mine:
Place the loin in a roasting pan. Rub about 3T of course grain Dijon mustard all over it (you may need more). Sprinkle chopped fresh thyme and rosemary over it, maybe 1T each. Salt and pepper, and then roast it in the oven at 400 for about 45 minutes for a small loin, 1-1 1/2 hours for a large one. Use a thermometer to check if its done, you'll want around 145 degrees. Let it sit for about 15 minutes before you cut into it and you'll have a wonderful dinner.
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Old 12-13-2011, 06:06 AM   #7
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Congrats to your husband for being a game warden.
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Old 12-13-2011, 08:46 AM   #8
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BRINE it.

That means soaking it for awhile in a salt water and sugar solution.

It will give you much jucier and savory pork.

Many people use this technique for chicken and/or their thanksgiving turkey.
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Old 12-13-2011, 09:25 AM   #9
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Pork loin responds very nicely to braising. The typical bare process is to heat a small amount oil very hot in a heavy oven-safe pan or Dutch oven, and brown the loin that has been rubbed with salt and pepper. Then add some liquid, wine or stock, enough to cover the bottom of the pan, cover and place in 350-degree oven for two hours. You can vary from there. Cut a whole garlic crossways and put it in the pan for the oven. Add sage to the liquid. Finish with a fruit based sauce when it comes out. You get the tasty crust from browning, which should be done by placing the loin in the oil and leaving it untouched until it naturally releases, before turning it, and repeating until all sides a deeply browned. The time in the oven will make it tender. And the liquid will cure it's natural dryness. What's left in the pan makes a good drizzle for the finished meat or can make a good gravy, if he's the potatoes with meat type.

You were on the right track with the sauce. Pork is kind of bland and needs some help. In the above braising scheme, the deep browning adds flavor, as does the wine and other additives.

The same works for a pork or beef shoulder cut up into smaller pieces. It works well for cheaper cuts of meat that are otherwise tough. But it is a poor choice for good, already tender cuts, which will just become tough this way.
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Old 12-13-2011, 11:41 AM   #10
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There was a side by side test in Cooks Illustrated a few years back on cooking boneless pork loin cuts on the stovetop. The first was done on high heat, the other on a low heat, both were 1 inch thick cuts. The end result was a low heat browning method released less juice when cut. I have done both methods personally and I found this to be true as well. When lean cuts such as this are cooked on a med/low heat the "steak" is left very tender and juicy. A nice fond is left in the pan for a quick pan sauce {while the meat rests on a warm plate covered with foil} AND it takes just a scant 10-15 minutes to put a whole meal together. Depending on sides of course.
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