Yesterday I planned to write about all the things I’ve been thinking about that aren’t worth writing about. Aren’t worth thinking about, either.
I got as far as talking about my homeowner’s insurance before I’d used up my word allotment. Actually, there isn’t a word allotment, but few people want to slog through a long, boring piece about things that don’t really mean much.
Anyway, another thing I planned to mention was pork. Not pork as in pork barrel politics (politicians slipping funding for local projects into larger appropriations bills), but pork as in . . . pig.
A butcher friend sold me a portion of a pig that turned out to be tough. It was supposed to be a young pig, but he unknowingly (at least I hope it was unknowingly) ended up with a senior pig. In a way, that makes me feel better about eating the poor thing since its life was nearing an end anyway, but it sure makes for tough meat. The bacon, for example, tasted great, but it was truly as tough as shoe leather. Not that I’ve ever actually chewed on shoe leather, you understand, but in this case, the trite simile is apt. The stuff was inedible and unchewable. I gave the bacon back to the butcher, and for the rest of it, I’ve been trying to find ways to cook tough pork.
Normally, when I eat meat, which isn’t that often, I simply throw it into a pan and cook it, but that’s not possible in this case, so I’ve been researching ways of adding flavor back to slow-cooked chops and such. (I figure by the time I learn the various ways of tenderizing and seasoning this poor pig, it will be used up.) Normally, I write about the things I research, but recipes aren’t my favorite thing to write about. Still, I did manage to come up with some good flavors, such as an apple cider vinegar-based barbecue sauce that was truly tasty.
It’s amazing how much time it takes to research as well as think about flavors and ingredients for cooking. My latest project is to figure out good marinades and sauces for ham since the necessary long simmer leaches all the flavor out of the meat. One thought is to simmer the ham in green chai tea. Another is to marinade it in a vinegar and spice blend.
It’s a challenge, that’s for sure, and it does give me different flavors to sample as well as giving me something different to think about.
Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.
February 18, 2023 at 11:03 am
For tough parts of pork (eg shoulder), my go-to is a spice rub(chipotle, ancho, garlic, thyme, brown sugar). After sitting for at least a few hours, it’s into a slow cooker on a rack over cider vinegar on low heat for 5-8 hours. Add ketchup or tomato paste to the vinegar/juices to make sauce.
For ribs, I’d marinade in lemon juice, water, salt, pepper or tobasco, and oregano for a day or two.
For dry parts that might also be tough (eg loin), I’d grind or chop very small and use in stir-fry, soup, or chili. For tough bacon, I’d cook to crisp and crumble into bits for salad, etc.
For ham, I’m partial to grainy mustard, or sometimes a sharp cheese sauce.
I used to enjoy the challenge of finding tasty ways to use different ingredients.
February 18, 2023 at 11:24 am
These are some great suggestions! Thanks. I also used to like the challenge of coming up with tasty ways to use different ingredients, but I’d mostly given up cooking the past decade or so. It’s kind of nice being forced to get back into the creativity of cooking.
February 18, 2023 at 6:25 pm
If you have a crockpot, you can cook it in there for many hrs. and it should be tender.
February 18, 2023 at 7:43 pm
True. I might need to get one.
February 18, 2023 at 6:40 pm
It sounds like that butcher needed to replace the whole order for you. I imagine you’ll be glad when you finish the last of that meat.
My challenge with pork is to get it cooked adequately without overcooking it, since overcooking also toughens it. I have a meat thermometer that works wonderfully with roasts, but chops are too thin for it to register properly.
February 18, 2023 at 7:45 pm
It is a challenge, especially when it starts out tough. But it’s food.
February 20, 2023 at 2:04 pm
Look up braised pork recipes. Searing the meat and then cooking in a Dutch Oven will make tough meat fork tinder. This from a vegetarian! Used a Dutch oven to prepare tough cuts of meat and my omnivore friends loved it. 😜
February 20, 2023 at 4:13 pm
I have been learning a lot about cooking tough meat!