Chapter 7 Pork

Next on the versatility scale comes pork. It is found in many cuisines (although not in Middle Eastern ones) and is very abundant and affordable. One feature to be aware of it is that cuts of pork differ, sort of like the difference between dark and light poultry meat. Cuts like pork shoulder are high in fat and connective tissue, and thus must be cooked to a high internal temperature (typically 185o or higher), while pork loin will dry out quickly if it goes much above 145o F. Most of the recipes here call for shoulder meat, but if cooked correctly, loin can be excellent.

7.0.1 Pork ribs

There are, of course, a variety of cuts of ribs out there - we will concentrate on “St. Louis” ribs, cooked “wet” (that is, finished with barbecue sauce). Because ribs are high in connective tissue, they need to be cook to a high enough internal temperature for the tough collagen to be converted to gelatin. We also have to overcome the “stall”, when at about 160o F. water is release from the meat and slow the temperature increase as a result of evaporative cooling.

The following so-called 3-2-1 cooking is from Hey Grill Hey, and works rather well. A rack of ribs can be ready to eat in about 6-7 hours.

Ingredients

1 rack of ribs
2 tbsp pork rub
1 cup apple cider or juice
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
2-3 tbsp butter
1/2 cup your favorite barbecue sauce*

* While I normally like hot sauces, in this case a milder tomato-based sauce works better.

  1. Prepare your barbecue for smoking (using the convEGGtor) with hickory wood chunks at ~200 o F.
  2. Pat the ribs dry and attempt to remove the membrane from the back by grasping with a paper towel and pulling. Don’t worry if you don’t get all of it - the ribs will still be fine.
  3. Liberally dust both sides of the rib with your favorite rub.
  4. Place the ribs on the grill, with an internal temperature probe in place, and grill for about 3 hours. The internal temperature should reach ~160o F.
  5. Place a sheet of heavy duty aluminum foil on your work surface and transfer the ribs to it, bone side up.
  6. Sprinkle the ribs with brown sugar, and distribute the butter as multiple pats on the surface. Raise the sides of the aluminum foil to form a boat and add the apple cider or juice.
  7. Wrap the foil tightly around the ribs, reinsert the internal temperature probe, and return to the barbecue. Maintain at 225 o F. for two hours.
  8. Unwrap the ribs and baste them on both sides with barbecue sauce. Continue cooking for one hour, flipping and basting occasionally. The final internal temperature should be 200-205o F.

7.0.2 Pig Wings

Despite the fact that we live near Cincinnati, home of the Flying Pig Marathon, these are not made from avian porcines. Rather, they are partially deboned and trimmed pork shanks, prepared with a sauce similar to traditional buffalo wing sauce. The meat may be available from a local butcher shop; online it can be had at Porter Road in Nashville (a great source of meat, but expensive, with high shipping costs). Alternatively, you may be able to get properly trimmed pork shanks from your local butcher shop.

Like brisket or pork butt, shanks are full of connective tissue that must be broken down in order to yield a properly tender result. This will occur if the meat is cooked to an internal temperature of 200o F. That processed is hastened by covering the pan containing “wings” and sauce for the second half of the cooking.

Ingredients

Pig wings (however many you want)
BBQ rub
1 onion, sliced or diced.
8 oz. butter
8 oz. hot sauce (your favorite)
Juice of half a lemon
1 tbsp. mustard powder
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
12 oz. beer

  1. Prepare your smoker as you did for tri-tip. For this recipe, you want to reach a cooking temperature of 250o F. Hickory or apple wood work well for this recipe.
  2. Remove any excess fat and the silver skin (if any) from the wings.
  3. Season with BBQ rub (or with salt, pepper and garlic powder).
  4. Place in the smoker and cook for 1 hour, turning every 20 minutes.
  5. While the wings are smoking, make the sauce as follows:
    1. Melt the butter, add the onion, and sauté until soft.
    2. Add all of the remaining ingredients EXCEPT the beer and let it boil for a couple of minutes.
    3. Add the beer and boil for an additional 5 minutes.
  6. After the hour of cooking above, mop the wings with the sauce. Continue to cook for an additional hour or until the internal temperature reaches 180o, mopping every 20 minutes or so.
  7. Transfer the wings to an aluminum pan with ~1/2 inch of sauce in it. Top the wings with some of the onions from the sauce.
  8. Cover the pan with foil, insert an internal temperature probe into one of the wings through the foil.
  9. Cook until the internal temperature reaches 200o. Verify with your instant read thermometer.
  10. Allow wings to rest 10-15 minutes and then serve.

7.0.3 Candied Ribs/Pork Wings

This recipe comes from Thermoworks And calls for “wide ribs” - basically St. Louis ribs cut into two rib sections. It occurs to me, however, that it would also work well with pig wings. The recipe below uses “wings”; the original post describes how to process ribs.

Ingredients

pig wings
3-4 tbsp barbecue rub
barbcue sauce (as both a binder and a baste)
Rib candy* or alternative syrupy sauce (honey, maple syrup, etc.)

  1. The day befor cooking, brush wings with barbecue sauce and apply rub. Refrigerate overnight.
  2. Set up your smoker to a temperature of 225o F.
  3. Place the wings in the smoker with a needle probe in one and a grill temperature monitor in place.
  4. When the internal temperature reaches 200o F., glaze the wings with a 2:1 mixture of barbecue sauce and syrup.**
  5. Continue cooking for an additional hour, turning and basting occasionally. Remove and serve.

* This is a commercial product available from multiple online sources, including this one.

**having now cooked this once, I would modify it along the lines of 3-2-1 ribs,as follows

  1. Hook over indirect heat until the internal temperature reaches about 150o F.
  2. Wrap with foil or butcher paper and continue cooking, increasing the grill temperture to 275o F., until internal temperature reaches 195-200o F.
  3. Unwrap, baste thoroughly with sauce mixture, and continue cooking for an additional hour, turning and basting occasionally.

Total cooking time is about 6 hours, and the results are spectacular.

7.0.4 Breakfast meatballs

Recently, we had two friends over for breakfast, and Alice suggested some kind of sausage. I truly dislike “breakfast links”, so I looked for alternatives by googling “breakfast meatballs”. I came up with two recipes and am going to try a combination of the two. The base recipe is here, and I’ve added a few touches from here. Since one of our guests has a genuine problem with gluten, I will use oats rather than bread crumbs as a binder.

Ingredients

For the meatballs:

3.5 oz. bacon
1 egg
1/2 cup instant oats
1 red cooking apple, peeled and diced
1/2 tsp dried sage
3/4 tsp crushed fennel seeds
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp white pepper
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 lb ground pork

For the glaze:

1/4 cup apple jelly
1/4 cup maple syrup

  1. Fry the bacon until crisp. Cool and dice it into fine pieces.
  2. Combine the rest of the ingredients and mix.
  3. Cover a sheet pan with foil and spray with cooking oil.
  4. Shape the meat mixture into one inch balls and place on sheet pan.
  5. Separately, combine the glaze ingredients and heat until they are smooth.
  6. Bake the meatballs at 400o F. for 8-10 minutes, until they reach an internal temperature of 160 o F.
  7. Drizzle the meatballs with half of the glaze and bake for two more minutes.
  8. Place the meatballs in a serving dish and drizzle with remaining glaze.

7.0.4.1 Notes

The times given in the recipe were too short, at least in our toaster oven. After 10 minutes, the internal temperature was 120o F; it took another 5 minutes for them to reach 160o.

I prepared this for our friends, both of whom are power lifters. Suffice it to say that the meatballs disappeared instantly. I managed to snag a couple of them, and the were quite good.

7.0.5 Sausage in Red Sauce

The red sauce described elswhere with shrimp can also be used with sausage. I sometimes make a double batch and add a pound of loose hot Italian sausage. When I do, I sauté the sausage in the saucepan prior to preparing the sauce, and then set it aside to add at the end. I also like to add a couple of teaspoons of Italian seasoning to enhance the flavors.

An alternative to commercial sausage is this recipe. By using half sharp paprika and upping the red pepper a bit, I’m hoping the spice level would be to my taste. Also, my intent is to use it crumbled and not have to fool with packing into cases.

Ingredients

2 tsp dried parsley
2 tsp Italian seasoning
1.5 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp half sharp paprika
1.5 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp dried minced garlic
1 tbsp dried minced onion
2 lb ground pork

  1. Combine all of the seasoning in a bowl.
  2. Add the pork and mix.

Notes

By using dried onion and garlic, the spice mix is shelf-stable. There should be a total of about 5 tbsp. of the mix; thus, you can use it at a concentration of 2.5 tbsp per pound of meat.

The original recipe suggests chicken. turkey or beef as a substitute for pork. They don’t excite me, but feel free to explore.

If you want to use an Instant Pot® for the sauce, cook on high pressure for 10 minutes, followed by five minutes of natural release. Vent the remaining steam, remove the lid, and blend as above.

7.0.6 Pork Kebabs

This is another grilled recipe, one that can be used either as a tapa or, with rice and vegetables, a complete meal. Note that the original recipe called for generic smoked paprika, but as a lover of hot food, I naively used hot smoked paprika in the marinade in my first attempt at this recipe. Big mistake - it was bitter and almost inedible. Substituting sweet smoked paprika on the second attempt was a huge improvement, and the balance of hot-smoked and half-sharp in the salsa brava works very well.

Ingredients

1 lb pork loin, cut into 1 inch cubes
6 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves or 1 tsp dried
1 tbsp sweet smoked paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp ras el hanut
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp red pepper flakes, or to taste
1 bay leaf, crumbled
1 tsp black pepper
0-2 tsp sea salt (to taste)

  1. Mix all of the ingredients except the pork in either a bowl or a large ziploc bag.
  2. Add the pork, mix well, and refrigerate overnight or up to 2 days.
  3. Soak a set of wooden skewers in water for at least 30 minutes. Prepare your grill for grilling at 450o F.
  4. Thread four pieces of pork onto each skewer.
  5. Grill for 5 minutes or so, basting occasionally with the marinade.
  6. Flip the skewers over and cook for an additional five minutes.
  7. Serve with crusty bread and salsa brava* for dipping.

* Salsa brava is a staple of Catalonian cooking. It can be purchased from La Tienda or made as follows:

3 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp hot smoked paprika
1 tsp half sharp paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 14.5 oz can fire roasted diced tomatoes
2-3 roasted piquillo peppers
2 tbsp vinegar of choice
salt to taste

  1. Saute the garlic and onion in the oil for 5-10 minutes.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients (except salt), bring to a boil, and cook for 10 minutes.
  3. Turn off heat and blend with an immersion blender.

Serve immediately or refrigerate up to 10 days. Freeze for longer term storage.

7.0.7 Pig Wings

Despite the fact that we live near Cincinnati, home of the Flying Pig Marathon, these are not made from avian porcines. Rather, they are partially deboned and trimmed pork shanks, prepared with a sauce similar to traditional buffalo wing sauce. The meat may be available from a local butcher shop; online it can be had at Porter Road in Nashville (a great source of meat, but expensive, with high shipping costs). Alternatively, you may be able to get properly trimmed pork shanks from your local butcher shop.

Like brisket or pork butt, shanks are full of connective tissue that must be broken down in order to yield a properly tender result. This will occur if the meat is cooked to an internal temperature of 200o F. That processed is hastened by covering the pan containing “wings” and sauce for the second half of the cooking.

Ingredients

Pig wings (however many you want)
BBQ rub
1 onion, sliced or diced.
8 oz. butter
8 oz. hot sauce (your favorite)
Juice of half a lemon
1 tbsp. mustard powder
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
12 oz. beer

  1. Prepare your smoker as you did for tri-tip. For this recipe, you want to reach a cooking temperature of 250o F. Hickory or apple wood work well for this recipe.
  2. Remove any excess fat and the silver skin (if any) from the wings.
  3. Season with BBQ rub (or with salt, pepper and garlic powder).
  4. Place in the smoker and cook for 1 hour, turning every 20 minutes.
  5. While the wings are smoking, make the sauce as follows:
    1. Melt the butter, add the onion, and sauté until soft.
    2. Add all of the remaining ingredients EXCEPT the beer and let it boil for a couple of minutes.
    3. Add the beer and boil for an additional 5 minutes.
  6. After the hour of cooking above, mop the wings with the sauce. Continue to cook for an additional hour or until the internal temperature reaches 180o, mopping every 20 minutes or so.
  7. Transfer the wings to an aluminum pan with ~1/2 inch of sauce in it. Top the wings with some of the onions from the sauce.
  8. Cover the pan with foil, insert an internal temperature probe into one of the wings through the foil.
  9. Cook until the internal temperature reaches 200o. Verify with your instant read thermometer.
  10. Allow wings to rest 10-15 minutes and then serve.

7.0.8 Candied Ribs/Pork Wings

This recipe comes from Thermoworks And calls for “wide ribs” - basically St. Louis ribs cut into two rib sections. It occurs to me, however, that it would also work well with pig wings. The recipe below uses “wings”; the original post describes how to process ribs.

Ingredients

pig wings
3-4 tbsp barbecue rub
barbcue sauce (as both a binder and a baste)
Rib candy* or alternative syrupy sauce (honey, maple syrup, etc.)

  1. The day befor cooking, brush wings with barbecue sauce and apply rub. Refrigerate overnight.
  2. Set up your smoker to a temperature of 225o F.
  3. Place the wings in the smoker with a needle probe in one and a grill temperature monitor in place.
  4. When the internal temperature reaches 200o F., glaze the wings with a 2:1 mixture of barbecue sauce and syrup.**
  5. Continue cooking for an additional hour, turning and basting occasionally. Remove and serve.

* This is a commercial product available from multiple online sources, including this one.

**having now cooked this once, I would modify it along the lines of 3-2-1 ribs,as follows

  1. Hook over indirect heat until the internal temperature reaches about 150o F.
  2. Wrap with foil or butcher paper and continue cooking, increasing the grill temperture to 275o F., until internal temperature reaches 195-200o F.
  3. Unwrap, baste thoroughly with sauce mixture, and continue cooking for an additional hour, turning and basting occasionally.

Total cooking time is about 6 hours, and the results are spectacular.

7.0.9 Chili Verde

This one comes from the Mexican Cookbook in the Sunset Series published back in the 1970’s. As far as I can tell, the book itself is only available used for exhorbitant prices. This is a modification of the original recipe, the most significant change being the use of only pork, rather than a mixture of pork and beef. Also, this one can be cooked on the stove top, in a slow cooker, or in an Instant Pot®.

Ingredients

1-2 lb. pork shoulder, cut into 1.5 inch pieces
2 tbsp olive oil
1 green pepper, seeded and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 14.5 oz. can whole tomatoes, drained, or 4 fresh roma tomatoes
1 can of chopped California green chilis or 2 fresh chopped ones
1-2 jalapeno peppers, chopped (optional)
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp ground cloves
2 tsp ground cumin
1 cup red wine

  1. Heat the olive oil in your preferred cooking vessel.
  2. Brown the pork for 5 or so minutes and remove.
  3. Add the green pepper, along with the garlic and fresh and jalapeno peppers if using. Sauté for 5 minutes or until soft.
  4. Add the tomatoes and spices, along with the canned peppers if using.
  5. Return the pork to the vessel. To cook, do one of the following:
  • In the Instant Pot®, pressure cook on high for 20 minutes, followed by at least 10 minutes of natural release. If necessary, reduce the liquid by cooking uncovered on sauté until suitably reduced.
  • On the stove top, simmer covered for 2-3 hours. Raise the heat and remove the lid to reduce liquid as desired.
  • In a slow cooker, cook for 3 hours on high or 6 hours on low. Again, reduce the liquid as desired by cooking uncovered on sauté.

Serve over rice.

7.0.10 Pork Carnitas

The recipe linked to above is great, but it could probably use a little more flavor. Hence, I went web surfing to see what I could find and came up with this one, from an excellent source, Amy and Jacky. I’ve left in the fruit juices from the original recipe and have omitted the chicken stock from the Amy and Jacky version.

Ingredients

boneless pork butt or shoulder, 2.5-3 lb., cut into 2 inch cubes
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 onion, chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp cinammon
1/2 tsp. ground pepper
2 bay leaves
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice, from 3 oranges
1/4 cup lime juice, from two limes
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped

  1. Combine all of the ingredients in the instant pot and let the meat marinade for at least 20 minutes.
  2. Pressure cook on high for 30 minutes.
  3. Do a natural release for 15 minutes, after which you can do a quick release of the remaining steam.
  4. Remove the pork from the IP spread on a sheet pan lined with foil.
  5. (optional) Brown the meat either by baking at 425 for 10 minutes or so, flipping the meat half way through (It might also work in your Micropro). Baste the meat with a little of the cooking fluid both at the beginninng and when you flip the meat.
  6. Shred the meat with two forks.
  7. Use as a taco filling or as filling for a pulled pork sandwich. Adding good salsa or pico de gallo (and anything else you think of) adds a lot.

7.0.11 Pulled Pork

Made this a couple of times in Geneva; not like smoked but a lot easier.

7.0.13 Instant Pot Pork Tenderloin

Another great possibility from Amy and Jacky. This one also includes a recipe for basic gravy - I’m thinking I’ll look for something more fruity and flavorful. For example, this one does not require pressure cooking, although one could do so and prepare the gravy on the stove top. And this looks like a nice pressure coooked possibility, and indeed it turned out very well:

Ingredients

2 lb pork tenderloin (2 pieces)
2 cups apples, peeled and diced (I used two MacIntosh apples)
1/4 cup honey
1 cup chicken (or beef) broth
1 tbsp. cinnamon
1 tbsp. brown sugar
1/2 tsp nutmeg

  1. Mix together the cinnamon, brown sugar, and nutmeg, and rub onto tenderloins.
  2. Add the honey and stock to the instant pot and mix thoroughly,
  3. Place the tenderloin pieces in the pot, followed by the apples.
  4. Pressure cook on high for six minutes, followed by a quick release.
  5. Check the internal temperature of the tenderloin. If it is less than 142o F., return, leave in the pot (on the “keep warm” setting) with the lid closed and sealed for another 5 minutes, or until desired temperature is achieved.
  6. Slice into medallions, top with the apple mixture, and serve.

7.0.14 Thai pepper and onion stirfry with pork

It took me three tries to get this one right, but it was worth the effort. It comes close to one of my take-out regulars. Like the recipe included for basil Thai duck, this recipe could be prepared with pork, beef, poultry or tofu. Also, I’d suggest using a mixture of soy sauce and fish sauce as given below.

Ingredients

1-2 lb pork loin, cut into strips
1/2 large red bell pepper
1/2 large green bell pepper
1/2 large red onion, diced
Juice of 1/2 a lime
1-2 tbsp. Thai hot chili sauce (like Sriracha)
1 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp soy sauce, divided
2 tbsp ginger garlic paste
2 tbsp sesame oil
salt and pepper to taste

  1. Combine the lime juice, 1 tbsp Thai chili sauce, fish sauce, 1 tbsp. soy sauce and the ginger garlic paste in a small bowl.
  2. Add the pork, stir to coat all of it, and refrigerate for at least one hour or up to overnight.
  3. Heat the sesame oil in a wok or frying pan to about 400o F.
  4. Add the pork, along with the marinade, to the wok and stir fry for 5-6 minutes, until browned.
  5. Add the peppers and onions and continue to stir fry for about 10 minutes, until the vegetables are soften and the liquid is reduced by about a half.
  6. Add the remaining tablespoon of soy sauce and taste. If desired, add additional chili sauce.

7.0.14.1 Notes

The original recipe called for the juice of two limes, one added to the marinade and one drizzled over the final dish. That, to my taste, is way too much. You could serve the dish along with lime wedges for people to use as desired.

Although I like my food hot, the initial recipe was hot in the extreme. I tried a couple of different chili preparations, and finally settled on Sriracha as described above.

7.0.15 “Caribbean” Stew

This is one to feed an army, so it may be a while before I get to it. The scare quotes stem from one of the comments regarding the absence of the dish in the actual Caribbean. Other comments are worth reading as well, especially with respect to parboiling techniques and hot sauce choice.