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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Project: PORK

This is just a copy-paste from a school project. But Marie(my beautiful and fabulous editor at StyleCoven.com said she wanted to eat it. Also, I got an 89 on it at school. It's technically an Asian F, but to white people it may as well be an A. At least that's what my Dad said... (Fellow Twinkies know what I'm talking about.)

Here we go!

stolen from FoodTease
Pork is a glorious and wonderful meat that comes from a magical animal known as the pig. It may not be a magical animal to some – in fact, it has gotten a reputation of being a filthy creature and even forbidden to eat in certain religions – but, as Jim Gaffigan once said, “It eats an apple and makes bacon, and that’s magical.” I’m pretty sure that bacon is the most-beautiful thing on earth, but we aren’t here to talk about just bacon. We are here to talk about pork and all the great things you can do with it.
Pork, unlike beef, is not broken down into “sides” when being butchered, but is usually just broken down into their primal cuts, which are:
  • ·         Jowl
  • ·         Boston butt
  • ·         Picnic shoulder
  • ·         Belly
  • ·         Side
  • ·         Loin
  • ·         Pork leg(Ham/Hindquarters)
  • ·         Hock
The pork primals are broken down into smaller cuts, called sub-primals, which are the portions that we cook off for service, for our families, et cetera. The beauty of pork is that it is truly one of the most-versatile meats on the market today. From the fatty belly to the lean pork butt(or shoulder), we can do just about anything with it.
Starting with the jowls of the pork primal, I’m reminded of the head cheese we are making in Garde Manger class. However, I know most of the jowl from my mother, an immigrant from the Philippines. The jowl is one of those ‘waste’ parts that we often forget about, since it’s right on the face of the pig. It’s commonly used in most ethnic recipes, and it is rich and dense with plentiful amounts of fat.  It makes a beautiful Head cheese, but is most-often found smoked in todays’ markets. If one were to go to the Philippines, however, you would find it cured in the form of Guanciale, a Filipino pork jowl bacon. Mom always used hers in sour stews or pastas, tossed without any cream.
Next we move onto the Boston butt, or the top shoulder. If we think about the tops of our own shoulder, we imagine a tight area where we often carry a lot of tension. Thusly, it’s a long-fibered piece of meat with little fat in it. Larding could be used to introduce some fat to the party, but Boston Butt is a favorite of many Kansas City BBQ-ers, as it is amazing when smoked over low temperatures for a very long time. Pulled pork is stringy, but when cooked slowly it’s really a beautiful dish and beautiful addition to a sandwich, salad, you-name-it.
The picnic shoulder is just below the Boston butt, and is another leaner part of the animal. It is a fairly inexpensive piece of meat and does very well for stewing or sautéing. I personally like it slow-cooked with some ginger, vinegar, bay leaf and garlic overnight, and then pulled, stuffed into a lumpia wrapper and deep-fried.
The pork belly contains the ribs as well as the belly part, which we use to cure and make bacon. There is a beautiful recipe for pork belly courtesy of the British Isles in International Cuisine, in which it is simply slow-roasted over a period of three hours, letting the fat render and the meat become caramelized. Ribs are best marinated to absorb in flavor and smoked slowly.
FilipinoFoodLovers.com is awesome too
The loin of the pork carcass is quite-easily the winner of the People’s Choice award. Not only does it contain the chops, but it contains the ever-lovely tenderloin, a long “rope” of meat that is oh-so-tender. Most prefer a light sear on tenderloins to make steaks out of, since it is such a tender morsel of meat. Many cooking methods can apply to this one, but grilling and searing seem to be a favorite, which goes for the pork chops as well. This is a part of the pig, however, that can go from juicy to bone-dry in a matter of seconds, so it’s very important that it isn’t overcooked. As far as the chops go, think of them as your pork ‘steaks’, so grill or sear accordingly.
In the pork leg we have many leg cuts, as well as the ham – which is most-famous for curing and honey-roasting(thank you, Honey roasted ham store) – and the pork leg itself is an interesting piece of meat. With the leg you have a log of nice lean muscle going on, so that means it can be tough – which means long cooking methods like slow-roasting on low temperatures or braising, which seems best to help break down the long fibers of muscle and make it nice and tender. Slow-cooked meat from the leg can even be set in a crock pot with some barbecue sauce and a little white wine and a chopped shallot for seven or eight hours and make some delicious BBQ tacos when you get home from work.
No real point. I just wanted to put up a picture of Miss Piggy...
Hocks are parts of the pig that, in theory, could be considered a waste part. It’s basically the little last bits of the leg on the pork primal, and they are a touch tricky. However, if we were to go back to a fundamentals point of view and look at another animal with a similar piece of meat – say, oxtail or something – we just have to think about slow stewing and braising, like a pork osso bucco. There is in fact a wonderful German recipe for pork hocks and sauerkraut, which is simply slowly simmering the pork hocks over a period of two hours, draining most of the water and adding kraut and some caraway seed for another quick half-hour cook. It seems overly simple, but it’s really a great way to utilize the pork hock.
Truth be told, the pig is a versatile animal that can be used for almost anything. I have, of course, a few personal favorites on how the meat is cooked, and I will probably never stop loving it. On an ending note, here’s the recipe for the Pork Chops & Fried Rice that my dad and I would make.

Dad’s Pork Chops n’ Fried Rice
·         4 pork chops, marinated in:
  • o   ½ cup soy sauce
  • o   1 green onion, chopped
  • o   1 splash vinegar, preferably white
  • o   1 tsp butter
  • ·         2-3 Tbsp olive oil
For the fried rice
  • ·         3 cups cooked rice
  • ·         Enough soy sauce to color it light brown, usually 5 or 6 big splashes of it
  • ·         1 egg, scrambled in the pan
  • ·         2 green onion, chopped
  • ·         Salt and pepper to taste
  • ·         1 small lime, quartered
Grill the pork chops over charcoals, using the marinade as the basting liquid. When off the grill, dot each pork chop with ¼ tsp of butter and allow to melt. For the fried rice, simply add enough oil to the pan so the rice won’t stick, and pan-fry while tossing with the soy sauce and green onion.
For the egg, beat with a drop of water and a splash of milk, and season lightly. Then push all of the rice over to one side and tilt the pan to create a separate egg cooking section. Scramble the egg lightly and set the pan down straight to combine with the rice. Toss gently and squeeze lime juice over the top to give it one last little kick.

Knowing how to cook pork isn’t so much about knowing the animal itself, but learning to slowly master the techniques needed. Everything is technique, really, and anyone can learn it with some practice. All in all, pork is delicious and I don’t think anybody will stop eating it any time soon.

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