Pork is one of the most commonly eaten meats worldwide, and its use in
the kitchen dates back over 7,000 years. Meat from pork is considered to be red
meat, even if it does not look like it. The meat in itself is lean and healthy,
but is unfairly associated with fatty dishes. Most of the carcass of a pig is
used to produce fresh meat.
Light in color
Pork meat should be pink and the fat should be creamy white, not yellow.
Organic and free-range pork can have a meat color that is a bit more reddish
pink. For pork, the same is valid as for all other meat: Fat equals taste.
Because pork is lean – finer parts contain a minimum of fat with very
little connective tissue – it is more sensitive than meat from beef, for
Always choose meat that looks slightly damp and is a bit shiny (however,
if it looks wet and white, it could be a sign of injected saltwater). Red patches
on the meat could signal that the pig was stressed at the moment of
slaughtering. Pork is never tenderized.
If you have the chance, try buying a piglet and grill it whole. (To be
exact, what you are buying is probably a growth pig, which contrary to a real piglet
has stopped suckling). It could weigh between 10 and 25 kilos and the kilo
price is high – but it is worth it.
Pork is often overcooked. It is a remnant from the time when people worried
about parasites and Trichinella, but modern breeding of pork has made these torments
rare. There is still a slight risk that they appear amongst ecological pigs
that are allowed to graze and root in the soil, but the security systems are
generally so reliable these days that you should not have to worry.
Pork's inner temperature
According to the recommendations, pork should reach 70°C, but at these
temperatures lean details of the animal such as the fillet is already dry and
dull. You achieve a juicier result if you stop the preparation somewhat earlier,
and let the meat finish cooking in the after heat.
Pork is a fresh commodity and is therefore sensitive. Store in the
coldest part of the fridge and do not interrupt the chilling chain. Expect
large pieces to last in the fridge for about four days. Smaller pieces and
mince should be consumed as soon as possible, within two to three days at the
If you freeze pork, it should be done quickly. Thawing should be slow.
Remember that defrozen meat is more sensitive than fresh.
There are hundreds of different breeds of pork around the world, and
so-called heritage breeds are growing in popularity, including Duroc, Gloucestershire
Old Spots, Ossabaw and Red Wattle.
Spain has its own and unique breed called Iberico, which becomes incredibly
delicious when reared on acorn. It is black, which is the reason for the name
of the air-dried ham “pata negra”, or black foot.
The little cutting guide
Sows are widely regarded as providing the tastiest meat. The pork you buy
in the shop probably comes from animals that have been slaughtered before
sexual maturity, which makes the sex less important. Sexually mature boars can have
an unpleasant taste resembling urine or sweat due to its growth hormones.
A pig that is ready for slaughter weighs at least 25 kilos.