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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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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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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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Old 12-13-2011, 11:53 AM   #11
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Heres a good brine recipe

Alton Brown's 2-Hour Mustard Brine For Pork Chops Or Roast Recipe - Food.com - 191816
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Old 12-13-2011, 12:08 PM   #12
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I have an excellent recipe for dragon loin that will also work with pork loin. I guarantee your husband will love it.


Chinese Dragon

Ingredients:
  • 3 to 5 pound boneless dragon loin (you can substitute pork loin , but your guests will know the difference)
  • tsp salt
  • tsp ground pepper
Marinade:
  • cup hoisin sauce
  • cup soy sauce
  • 2 Tbs tomato paste
  • 1 Tbs Chili Garlic sauce
  • 2 Tbs rice vinegar
  • 2 Tbs firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 Tbs grated ginger
  • 2 tsp five-spice powder
Garnish:
  • 1 small green mango
  • cup crushed pineapple
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 Tbs Pineapple vinegar (substitute rice wine vinegar if you can't find pineapple vinegar)
  • tsp crushed red pepper (optional)
  • small red bell pepper, julienned
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup chopped dry roasted unsalted peanuts
Combine hoisin sauce, soy sauce, tomato paste, chili garlic sauce, rice vinegar, brown sugar, ginger, and five-spice in a medium saucepan. Simmer over low heat for 10 minutes. Remove from heat; allow marinade to cool.

Trim excess fat from loin, season with salt and pepper. Then place in a large plastic zip bag. When marinade has cooled, pour into plastic bag, squeeze out any excess air, and zip closed. Allow to marinate for at least 1 hour (preferably overnight), refrigerated.

Preheat oven to 350F. Place the loin on a rack in a shallow roasting pan and cook for 20 to 30 minutes per pound, or until internal temperature is 160F. Allow loin to rest for 10 to 15 minutes, covered with foil, before slicing.

Slice thin and serve topped with garnish.
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Old 12-13-2011, 12:19 PM   #13
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Thank you all for the wonderful suggestions. They give me something to try the next time I brave the kitchen.
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Old 12-13-2011, 01:16 PM   #14
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Pork, like fish, can be tricky to properly cook. There is a very fine line between undercooked and overcooked.

If you're new to cooking, I would suggest getting an instant read meat thermometer. It will help you get things right until you've done it enough to know what you are looking for. Pork tenederloin should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160F. I actually like it around 152-155F (slightly pinkish), but that's me. You'll see a lot of cookbooks that say cook it to 185-190. In my experience, if you do that you'll end up with shoe leather.
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Old 12-13-2011, 07:13 PM   #15
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Actually the USDA recommends that you cook Pork to 145. But I usually cook it to 140 as it can dry out when it is overcooked. Cooking by time is not easy to do, as it depends on the temperature of the meat and the exact temperature of the cooking surface. The best way it to cook by the internal temperature of the meat. A good instant read thermometer, like a Thermapen, is the best way to go.
Amazon.com: Splash-Proof Super-Fast Thermapen (Orange) Instant Read Thermometer, Perfect for Barbecue, Home and Professional Cooking: Kitchen & Dining
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Old 12-13-2011, 10:33 PM   #16
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Actually the USDA recommends that you cook Pork to 145.
Apparently that's a very recent change to their guidelines.
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Old 12-13-2011, 10:37 PM   #17
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Apparently that's a very recent change to their guidelines.

Yes, it was earlier this year.
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Old 12-14-2011, 09:13 AM   #18
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I made a really simple brine today that has worked excellent. 1 cup brown sugar 1 cup sea salt and some pepper.
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Old 12-14-2011, 09:16 AM   #19
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[QUOTE=Hot Tamale;1083554]I made a really simple brine today that has worked excellent. 1 cup brown sugar 1 cup sea salt and some pepper.[Pressure is what you feel when you don't know what your doing-Chip Kelly
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Old 12-14-2011, 09:20 AM   #20
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I made a really simple brine today that has worked excellent. 1 cup brown sugar 1 cup sea salt and some pepper.
How much water?
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