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Perfect grilled pork is as much as an art as it is a science, but we all need to appreciate the fundamentals for our talent and creative side to shine through. Pork barbecue done well is delicious, and while it may seem like an easy dish to make, many a novice cook has underestimated the nuances required for perfection. In the following post, we will discuss how to select the perfect cut for the particular dish you are making. We will then move on to the common mistakes that beginners make as well as a series of helpful pork barbecue tips that will have you cooking up delectable pork dishes in no time at all!
How to Pick Pork for Grilling
There are many different cuts available to you that you can use for grilling, including the shoulder, belly, and loin. Some cuts are better suited to particular purposes, and you will develop your own preferences as well. The shoulder is perhaps the most versatile cut, and the fillet from the shoulder top is an excellent option if you want pork steaks for grilling. If you are thinking more along the lines of a roast, then the pork loin is the traditional option often associated with Sunday dinner.
Another popular option for grilling is the rib chop. You can purchase these chops together, which is a rib roast or separated into individual chops. This cut tends to work best with a dry rub or marinated, and they are delightful on the grill or barbecue. Although you do not have to cook grilled pork with high heat, high heat, in this case, provides an excellent crust and renders the fat for juiciness. Such cooking has to be monitored closely, however, to ensure that the chops are not overcooked.
When it comes to steaks and chops, make it a point to avoid buying or cutting them too thin. This is important in general but particularly important when it comes to grilling. Small cuts are highly prone to overcooking even at lower cooking temperatures. Besides, lean cuts are usually boneless, and the bone is quite essential with chops for maintaining moisture as well as flavoring the meat. The minimum recommendation for grilled pork or pork barbecue like this is 1 ½ inches thick.
Common Mistakes When Grilling Pork
Two of the most common mistakes that novices make have been mentioned above: no bone and too thin a cut. Lean cuts are favorite in supermarkets in part because many people do not want to pay for the bone, but those consumers tend not to realize how vital the bone can be to taste.
Another common mistake, which we will discuss in greater detail in the temperature section, is cooking pork that is cold. Consistent room temperature is ideal. If the pork is cold, then the exterior will have been overcooked and dried out by the time the perfect internal temperature has been reached.
Other common missteps include
- Insufficient seasoning
Many cuts of pork tend to have a mild flavor, and this lack of taste has been exacerbated with a consumer-driven trend toward leaner pork. Salt and ground pepper are a must at the very least, and a marinade is a powerful tool when grilling to avoid drying out.
- Not trimming excess fat
A butcher can cut the fat to taste. Local supermarkets often leave too much. Cut to about ¼ inch if there is excess. That is all you need for the ideal taste, and it helps to avoid fat dripping onto the coals, which causes flare-ups and can affect the flavor of the meat.
Many people have been taught to overcook pork to eradicate a parasite. However, that particular parasite—trichinella—was eliminated in the 1990s. This is why the USDA has updated its guidelines, and it is perfectly safe to enjoy medium doneness.
For more BBQ mistakes to avoid, please check Top 15 Common Grilling Mistakes You Should Avoid.
Pork BBQ Tips to Make You a Better Cook
Let us go over some pork barbecue tips that should give you high confidence when manning the grill. Once you have that confidence, succeeding when experimenting will come much more accessible to you.
1. Choose fat content based on the cut and dish.
Earlier we mentioned ¼ inch of fat, and this thickness is generally ideal for a steak or chop. Even with a loin cut, you still want the outer layer of fat to be relatively thin rather than thick. But you may want to purchase a cut with more fat so that you can cut it yourself and use it for drippings or crisping.
2. Make use of your fat.
Some people enjoy baking their excess fat into crisps. As for the fat still on the cut, collect those drippings, which can be used to flavor vegetables or make sauces or gravies. When grilling, take care to ensure that that the fat is not dripping onto the coals or heating element below.
3. Pink pork is safe to eat.
Avoid focusing on color mainly when it comes to pork. It is misleading. Measure the internal temperature instead. If the temperature is right, then the color is perfect.
4. You may need to pull your cut from the grill a bit early.
When resting your pork, it can actually increase in temperature as much as 10°F as latent heat continues to move inward. This is particularly true with larger and thicker cuts, such as roasts, and removing them from the grill a bit early is often the only way to hit that ideal temperature for serving.
Temperature Matters a Great Deal
Among the best pork barbecue tips that you can take to heart are that temperature matters before you start cooking, during the cooking process and when you serve. You absolutely should avoid cooking frozen pork, and even pork from the refrigerator should be allowed to reach room temperature before you put it on the grill. A general rule is to take the pork from the fridge about 30 minutes before grilling, and you can use this time to rub, marinate or otherwise season the meat.
USDA recommendations have changed in recent years—by about 15°F from just several years ago. The guideline is that you achieve an internal temperature of 145°F. It is crucial that you use a meat thermometer, such as those manufactured by ThermoPro. The ThermoPro TP-15, in particular, is a fantastic option that can be used inside and out, has a backlight, is waterproof and features a long probe. This all means that you can cook pork at a lower temperature than you may have previously presumed. Once your target temperature is reached, take the pork off the grill and let it rest. Chops and steaks need about three minutes, and large cuts require 15 to 30 minutes. This makes the fibers relax, and the meat reabsorb all of the juices, which ensure that each bite is juicy and tender!
For more about Pork Cooking Temp, please check this out.
Mastering the Art of Grilling Pork
The fundamentals of grilling pork are just the beginning of your journey. Pork barbecue is excellent to eat in whole cuts, but you can also pull it to make the basis for sandwiches and tacos. You can mix it with beans, top salads with it and use it to add flair to omelets, and the drippings provide a delightful base for sauces, gravies and even non-pork recipes. There are also many options when it comes to seasoning. Do you prefer a dry rub or perhaps the North Carolina or Texas style? There are many different cuts to experiment with and even more recipes to try and customize, and there are attractive options beyond grilling too, including baking, frying, and even slow cooking.