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Roasting pork


Kikujiro
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I'm cooking some pork belly. As far as I can see everywhere on the web, the guideline is that internal temperature should reach 160F, or about 71 deg C. But on my meat thermometer the little pig silhouette is pointing to 85 deg C. It's an okay piece of pork and I don't want to cook the hell out of it. Which number should I head for?

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The worms that cause trichinosis are killed at around 145F. Most recommended temperatures (including Julia Child’s) are far too high. Farmed pork is, in any case, generally free of infestation. If it were loin I’d suggest taking it out the oven at 150 and letting it rest. But… pork belly is a really fatty cut, no? I suspect it’ll be a lot more toothsome cooked slowly to a rather higher temperature.

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Schmidt in his Master Recipes suggests removing pork from the oven when boneless meat reaches 140 and bone-in meat reaches 145F. He says that pathogens "including the trichinae parasite...are disabled at 140F." Ideal final temp for pork, after resting, is 145-150F according to Schmidt.

As for recommendations that meat should be cooked till internal temp is170F, Schmidt writes in bold "IGNORE"

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I've gotten great results at 160 - 165 F with both boneless and bone-in. Both in terms of moistness and taste. I can't understand why someone would want to go that low with the temperature. I don't mind the texture/mouth feel of very rare beef, but for pork to be that rare? I don't think I'd enjoy it. :blink:

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If it's good quality pork and not too fatty, it's best when it's a little pink. That's far beyond what rare beef looks like. Julia, in her first cookbook, stated that trichinosis was killed at 131 degrees, but that the official figure is taken as 137 degrees. She does go on to recommend 180-185 degrees. I can only assume tastes are changing. We use 140-145 degrees for pork tenderloin at home. At that temperature the meat is slightly pink and quite juicy. At a higher temperature, the loin becomes tough. Pork belly is another story and requires a whole different approach, but it's safe to eat at 140 degrees.

Robert Buxbaum

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I've gotten great results at 160 - 165 F with both boneless and bone-in.  Both in terms of moistness and taste.  I can't understand why someone would want to go that low with the temperature.  I don't mind the texture/mouth feel of very rare beef, but for pork to be that rare?  I don't think I'd enjoy it.  :blink:

Mike, it depends not only on the cut but on where you buy it. The pork sold in Iowa is probably fattier than what's sold in Manhattan. I no longer cook pork loin unless it's brined first, because even at 145 it's dry and tasteless. No internal marbling whatsoever.

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Or the pork has changed -- a higher temperature would've be OK when the pork was fattier.

Good point. There's just about zero fat in the pork tenderloins we get. Pound for pound, I'd guess it's less fatty than a skinless chicken breast.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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Or the pork has changed -- a higher temperature would've be OK when the pork was fattier.

Good point. There's just about zero fat in the pork tenderloins we get. Pound for pound, I'd guess it's less fatty than a skinless chicken breast.

Hence its lack of good porky flavor. The best cuts of (unprocesed) pork these days come from the shoulders and legs.

Has anybody tried this stuff?

Pipestone Family Farms

Dave Scantland
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Eat more chicken skin.

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Oh, YES!!! That's what Nick Gatti uses at his place. Their pork is really, really good. Lean, but very juicy and flavorful. Great stuff. When I talked to someone from there at the WCR Conference, he said that they won't sell the meat under their own name if it's not up to certain standards. (Although this is one time that I'll bet "seconds" are still better than some others' top product.)

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Awhile ago I was cooking a boneless pork loin and decided to try the "slow-roasted" method. Basically, start out at 450F for ten minutes, then lower to 250F and cook until internal temp reaches around 150F. It was pink in the center but fully cooked and very moist. Almost too moist.

This doesn't have much to do with a pork belly, but thought I'd throw it out there.

Also, somewhere a long time ago I heard that trichinosis (which has pretty much disappeared) was caused by feeding hogs uncooked "garbage."

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Pork Belly (fresh bacon) should be cooked long and slow. I've brown braised it in milk (then reduced the milk and used it in the sauce) and straight brown braised it in stock. Larent Gras at Fifth Floor claims to cook his (pork) belly "sur vide" (in plastic) for at least 12 hours!

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Thanks, everyone. In fact, I overcooked the meat slightly, and the crackling (which last time I made the same dish was the best I've ever had) wasn't as good as I had hoped. I was following a Moro recipe (fennel-rubbed belly, highly recommended) and by the time I stuck the thermometer in it was too hot inside. But overall very enjoyable nevertheless. [Edit: last time, the pork was probaby better: Old Spot as far as I remember; this time it was a well-treated drug-free pig but not an interesting breed].

I wouldn't cook belly pink -- as per G. Johnson's post, it needs slow cooking -- but I've had other cuts of good pork cooked medium (particularly some acorn-fed pork at Eyre Bros in Shoreditch that I will never forget).

Edited by Kikujiro (log)
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I'm curious. How lean was your belly and how hot was too hot?

I'd have thought, never having cooked it, that there would be sufficient fat in the meat to withstand quite a lot of cooking.

The technical description of how lean it was is 'not very lean'. Having said which, it was very meaty at one end, and about 3-4 times as thick as at the other end. Last time I did the same dish it was the same (thin) thickness throughout, so the fat and skin was a much higher proportion of the total.

When I stuck the thermo in it registered, like, 90 C.* The belly was certainly not ruined; given that it went so far above the intended temperature, it was still good, which might not have been the case with other meats or cuts. But parts of my portion tasted a little tougher and dryer than I'd have liked.

* Edit note: I may have stuck it all the way through the meat? Or misread it? But it was certainly markedly over 70.

Edited by Kikujiro (log)
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