Let’s begin with food safety.Food safety is always a priority. The USDA gives us some simple common-sense guidelines to follow:
- Use separate cutting boards, cooking utensils, and platters for raw and cooked meats to avoid cross-contamination.
- Refrigerate while marinating to prevent bacteria, and never baste or sauce with the used marinating liquid.
- Cook meats to the proper temperatures. Temperatures will vary depending upon the type of meat and the cut. For example, pork cuts are to be cooked to a temperature range of 130°F to 160°F. If you are grilling a fully cooked ham, the internal temperature should reach 130°F-140°F, while pork chops and pork tenderloins require 145°F, and ground pork should always be cooked to 160°F. Check your meat’s internal temperature by using a digital, instant-read thermometer.
Next, it’s always good to start out with a clean and properly heated grill.Begin preheating your grill at least 15-25 minutes prior to cooking, so you can give the grill time to reach the desired temperature. After you preheat the grill, simply scrape off the grate with a grill brush. It’s always easiest to remove the remains of a past meal while the grill is hot. Once the grill is clean, bring it to the necessary temperature. For high heat, aim for 400-450°F, medium-high at 350-400°F, 300-350°F for medium, and 250-300°F for low heat.
This next tip encompasses food safety, personal safety, and grill maintenance.Avoid flare-ups and put them out properly! Flare-ups occur when fat drips down onto the coals (or whichever heat source you are using) and catches on fire. These fires can cause the formation and accumulation of carcinogenic PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons), and the flames can also affect food taste or cause charring. By selecting leaner cuts of meat and trimming excess fat, you can reduce your chance of having a flare-up. If a flare-up does happen, make sure you put it out in a safe way. Some grillers keep a squirt water bottle handy, but grilling pro and author Elizabeth Karmel suggests that extinguishing the flames by putting the lid over the grill is simpler, safer, and more maintenance effective. Using this method eliminates water splatter that can cause burns or crack the finish of your grill.
Now that I’ve covered food and personal safety, I’ll share some quick grilling tips with you:
- Properly preheating the grill aids in searing the meat and helps with caramelization.
- Foods can still stick to a clean grill, so you can reduce sticking by oiling your grill rack with vegetable oil. While some grillers suggest applying the oil to a hot grill rack by using a vegetable oil-soaked paper towel, it’s much safer to just apply the oil before heating the grill, especially if your grill is already clean.
- Choosing your grilling method can be tricky, but the problem is easily overcome. Direct heat (or cooking directly over the heat source) is best for quick cooking cuts. Indirect heat is mostly and appropriately used for meats that take longer to cook. Elizabeth Karmel’s rule of thumb: Anything that takes less than 20 minutes to cook should be grilled with direct heat, and anything over 20 minutes requires indirect heat to cook properly. Using indirect heat is much like slow cooking—the process is slower, allowing the inside of the meat to thoroughly cook without burning the outside.
- If you have marinated your meat, pat off most of the excess moisture. The idea is to give the meat flavor yet get it to sear instead of steam.
- If you are basting, do so during the last 30 minutes of cooking to reduce the chance of burning your meat.
- Do not use sharp utensils to turn the meat. Use spatulas or tongs that will not pierce the meat and release juices. You do not want to lose moistness and flavor. The only exception is if you do not have a digital thermometer and are checking for doneness. If you pierce the meat and the juices are clear, the meat is done.
- Letting the cooked meat rest before serving allows the juices to redistribute evenly throughout the meat and mete out flavor. Yummy!
- Grill tools can come in handy. If you like grilling vegetables or foods that can fall through the rack, try using a grill basket.
- Don’t be afraid to improvise. Don’t have a grill brush to clean the grate? Karmel has used a wadded-up piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil (to act as a brush) and a set of tongs (as a handle). But this tip doesn’t only extend to grilling tools. Improvise on flavor, techniques, and experience. Don’t be afraid to explore the possibilities!
Now that I’ve went over safety and cooking tips are you ready for some recipes to try out? I know I am!
- Grilled Asian Pork Chop with Peanut Sauce: My family and I love Asian food, and this recipe is definitely a winner in my book!
- Chocolate Coffee Pork Tenderloin: Who doesn’t like chocolate or coffee? And together in a rub, they are scrumptious! I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I did!
- Pork Chops with Blueberry Mango Salad: Tender pork chops with a bit of sweetness and spice! Yummy!
- Teriyaki Grilled Pork Chops: This recipe incorporates a delicious yet simple glaze composed of soy sauce, cornstarch, honey, and ginger. Thinking about it is making me want to fire up the grill right now!
Have you ever run across a recipe that requires you to braise the meat? Does it sound like a foreign word to you? Are you just beginning to find your place in the kitchen, and have no clue about the terms or techniques?While braising sounds like a scary term, it is actually a very simple technique. Once you learn how to do it, it won’t be long before you’re a pro. First, you begin with the meat:
- Choose your meat. You can decide on beef, chicken, fish, lamb, or pork. Of course, I am going to focus on pork—my favorite! You don’t have to start with a high-dollar cut either; the liquid you use in braising will make the meat succulent and tender.
- Brown the meat. Using a little bit of oil in a skillet, sear the meat on all sides, and give it a bit of color. A golden hue is perfect. This will help seal in juices, and the crust will make your dish more visually appealing. Searing the meat also leaves you little bits in the pan which will play a part in a future step—“deglazing.”
- Set the meat aside. It’s time to think about your veggies. If you are including tougher vegetables like carrots or celery or onion, you will now add them to the oil in the pan and “caramelize” them. Sauté them until they are softer and light brown in color, but be careful not to burn them.
- Deglaze the pan. Add just a little bit of liquid to the pan (wine, beer, chicken stock, vinegar, water, cider, or juice), and scrape up any caramelized bits from the skillet with a wooden spoon. But don’t get rid of them. Stir them into your liquid! These tasty bits are going to add immense flavor to the braise.
- Choose your liquid. Most braises are created from stock or wine, but little additions can enhance flavor and add a little flair. Your decision can be based on what you have on hand, or make a selection according to your cooking goals or tastes. For example, you can braise with water, but the result won’t be very flavorful. Some chefs prefer beer, specifically lighter lagers (an acquired taste), to complement pork. Cider, as well as apple or citrus based juices, can be used to sweeten poultry or pork. Don’t be afraid to be adventurous—some cooks have even tried milk or coconut milk!
- Add your meat back in. Put your meat in a coverable pan or Dutch oven, along with your veggies, and pour in your liquid until it sets about one-half the way up the side of your meat. Don’t completely cover the meat; the liquid will seep in and flavor it.
- Add a little spice. It’s customary to use bay leaves, and salt and pepper is usually a given, but don’t limit yourself!
- Cover and cook. The hardest part of your work is over. Slide the meat into the oven and cook on low heat, usually 325° but no more than 350°. The meat should cook for about 2-3 hours depending on the cut, but you will know when it is done because the meat will be tender and literally sliding off the bone, or easily cut with a knife.
- Broth or Sauce. At this point, you can serve the meat as is or you can choose to create a sauce, which will enhance the dish. Take out the meat and the vegetables. Skim off the fat, and simmer the liquid until it thickens enough to coat a spoon. Then add your meat and veggies back in to heat them back through.
- Give it a little zing. If you want to add texture or give the dish your own personal touch, you can top it off with a handful of chopped herbs, grated citrus zest, or crème fraiche.
- If you love Oriental food, you can prepare Marinated Oriental Pork Tenderloin with Fried Rice. I know it definitely satisfied my family’s craving!
- Or how about Circle B Ranch Pork Tenderloin with Peach Basil Bourbon Glaze? When the Kitchen Whisperer prepared our Berkshire Rib Chops with this delicious recipe, I knew that I had to try it with tenderloin.
- Cilantro Marinated Pork with Romesco Sauce: What can be better than pork tenderloin paired with Romesco sauce and topped with a zesty Gremolata? Delicious!
Stuffing the loin is great for 2 reasons: You get an explosion of diverse flavors – sweet, salty, nutty, and savory in this case. And the spiral of meat makes it look really cool!
Click here to get the full recipe.Next, comes the Pork Tenderloin. This most tender roast is so adaptable that you can prepare it with a variety of flavors. This is one of my preferred cuts due to its flexibility. I have so many tenderloin recipes and so much to say about this cut that I can’t do it justice without giving it its own article. But for a sneak peek, try out one of my favorite tenderloin recipes. Made with sweet and moist delicious dates purchased from the Date Lady in Springfield, MO., this recipe for Pork Tenderloin with Date Relish is absolutely delightful! Look for the next blog in this series titled “Tenderloin: The Other Succulent Meat.” I’ll share more of my tastiest tenderloin recipes with you. And for you pork chop lovers out there, “Chops are chops—right?”, another upcoming post in the series will feature your favorite cut from the loin. Do you know the differences between the types of pork chops? This blog will discuss the variations in chops and provide you with some great recipes for your preparation pleasure. [ ... ]