The Basics of Cooking With Pork
Learn the basics of pork including how to shop, store and cook a delicious pork-based meal.

Pork earned the nickname as the "other white meat" because producers learned to create pork products that are as low in fat as some cuts of chicken. Lean cuts of pork are a good source of protein and essential nutrients. Just as you would do with beef, the key is to go lean and pay attention to portion sizes. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture MyPlate Guidelines, for daily protein intake, most adults should eat about 5 to 6.5 ounces of protein each day. The serving size of protein for an adult should average about 3.5 ounces, which is about the size of a deck of cards. The bottom line is to keep it lean, and eat small portions. Select fruit sauces as toppings and vegetable dishes for sides.

At the Market

Cuts from the loin of the pig will be the leanest. Selecting the right cut depends on what you plan to prepare. Roasts are great for big groups and a slow cooker, but if you are feeding a family of 3-4 people, the tenderloin or chops might be a better option.

Leaner cuts of pork include:
* Tenderloins
* Country Ribs and Back Ribs
* Butterfly Chops
* Center Rib Roasts
* Boneless Sirloin Roasts

Storage: According to recommendations from the National Pork Council, raw ground pork can be stored in the refrigerator for 1-2 days. Raw roasts, chops and tenderloins can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Ground pork properly packaged in an airtight container can be safely stored in the freezer for up to three months. Raw roasts, chops and tenderloins can be safely stored up to six months if properly packaged.

Whole smoked ham and whole ham slices can be stored in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Smoked sausages, hot dogs, bacon and other luncheon meats can be kept for up to 7 days. Freezing is not recommended for whole cooked ham. Cut up pieces can be frozen for use in soups and stews.

Bacon can be kept sealed for up to the recommended date on package. Once the package is opened it should be used within 7 days. Freeze sealed packaged bacon for up to one month.

Preparation: Defrost pork in the refrigerator in its wrapping or in the microwave.  If you choose to defrost using the microwave, cook pork immediately after thawing. The recommended cooking temperature for pork is 145 degrees. Because of updated feeding practices, Trichinosis (a food-borne illness) is not the threat is used to be with undercooked pork.

Always trim visible fat before cooking. Pork can be grilled, braised, broiled, roasted, stewed, or sautéed.  Pork can be used in a variety of ethnic dishes including Mexican, Polish, Puerto Rican, Chinese and many others. Good choices for pork seasonings include sage, thyme, pepper, and jerk spices. Ground pork is great for stuffed peppers and cabbage rolls.


Sweet Pork (Moo-Wan)

This is a simple recipe from Northern Thailand that turns pork tenderloin into sweet perfection.

* 4-5 shallots
* 1 pound pork tenderloin
* 3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
* 1/2 cup brown sugar
* 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
* 2 Tbsp. fish sauce
* 1/4 cup water

Peel shallots and cut into thin slices. Set aside. Remove fat from the outside of the pork tenderloin. Cut pork into 1/4-inch thick slices. Set aside.

Add the oil to a 10-inch skillet, wok or deep sided pan and place over medium-high heat for 1 minute. Add the shallots and fry for 1-2 minutes until they begin to turn brown. Add the sugar and stir until melted (be careful not to splash yourself). Add the soy sauce, fish sauce, and water and bring to a boil. Add the pork and reduce the heat to medium and cook for 7-8 minutes or until pork is tender and cooked through. Once the pork is cooked, remove it with a slotted-spoon to a rimmed-serving dish. Turn the heat to high and boil the sauce for 1 minute to thicken it. Pour the sauce over the pork and serve with steamed broccoli and pineapple chunks.

Applesauce Pork Chops

* 4 pork chops
* 1 cup apple sauce
* 2 tsp. butter or margarine
* 2 Tbsp brown sugar
* Salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Sprinkle both sides of pork chops with salt and pepper. Place pork chops in a baking dish. Cover the dish with a lid or aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and spread apple sauce over the pork chops. In a small bowl, mash the butter and brown sugar with a fork. Add a little brown sugar mixture on top of each apple sauce covered pork chop. Bake for another 10 minutes.

Serves 4.

Cheryl Moellenbeck Tallman is the founder of Fresh Baby ( Since Starting Fresh Baby in 2002, Cheryl Tallman has been honored with many prestigious awards, and is a US Department of Agriculture National Nutrition Education Strategic Partner. As the head of product and content development for her company, Cheryl develops innovative products and authors materials that inspire parents to raise healthier children. She serves as both a parenting and cooking expert for many high-profile online communities. Cheryl's ultimate vision is to make the task of raising a healthy eater easier for all parents.

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