From bacon for breakfast to stuffed pork chops for dinner, the "other white meat" is tasty, succulent and can be dressed up quite nicely for those upscale occasions when a slab of ribs just won't do.
Pork is leaner than before, said chef G. Michael Taylor, the owner of 16 Plates, a boutique catering business in Springfield, while extolling the virtues of a pork loin paired with garlic, apples and sage.
"It's very important when cooking with pork to add fat now. It's so much leaner than before, unless you cook it slow or add extra fat, it will be tough," he said.
As with other cuts of meat, some cuts of pork, such as the shoulder, have more fat than others.
"Do not cook pork like your grandmother did," he cautioned. "This is not your grandmother's pork anymore. This is meat that's been inspected and re-inspected. You can cook it so there's a tinge of pink in the middle and, remember, if you are cooking with a bone, near the bone you are going to get a reddish area.
"The temperature of the meat should be about 150 degrees when you stop cooking it, and the temperature is going to go up 10 to 15 degrees while it sits and rests."
Taylor participated in the Taste of Elegance, a contest featuring upscale pork entries, in 2008.
Don't think of pork as just an entrée, he said. Be creative and think of it as an appetizer.
Wrap scallops in Serrano ham, he recommended, sear 1 minute on one side and then 30 seconds on the other side. Put two scallops in a martini glass and garnish with "straws" of sautéed leeks.
Serrano ham is from Spain. Cured for a year, it has a deeper flavor and firmer texture than prosciutto.
Prosciutto, from Italy, is salt cured and then air dried, and its flavor works well in a cutlet recipe that Taylor demonstrated.
The somewhat bland flavor of the cutlets is enhanced by lightly pounding prosciutto and sage leaves into the cutlet and doing a quick sauté in oil and unsalted butter.
Taylor's saltimbocca (translated as "hop in mouth") includes deglazing the pan with white wine, adding a bit of chicken broth and then finishing the sauce with a pat of butter.
Serve on a bed of squid-ink pasta, suggested Taylor.
Stuff a pork loin with onions, apples and garlic, sear, roast and slice and serve with roasted brussel sprouts, mushrooms and tomatoes for a beautiful and tasty presentation, he said.
Drizzle with a reduction of port wine spiked with a bit of hot sauce.
Don't pass over a cut of meat some might think of as "lowly," he advised.
Pork shanks can be seared, slow roasted so they self-braise and turned into a wonderful osso bucco.
Osso bucco loosely translated means hollowed bone, and the marrow from the bone seeps into the sauce, to give it a rich body.
Augment the sauce with carrots, celery and onions. Pork osso bucco on some al dente pasta is a nice presentation that warms the house and perfumes it at the same time.
"It's a very forgiving dish," Taylor said. "Just keep the heat low."
Chef G. Michael Taylor of Springfield has represented the state of Illinois twice in the Great American Seafood Cook-off in New Orleans. Look for the show featuring the challenge on the Food Network in January.
He's been a guest instructor in culinary arts at Lincoln Land Community College. He's in the process of opening Remoulade, a Creole/Cajun Shop, and Sazerac, a Creole seafood bar.
Apple Pork Roulade
with Port Wine Reduction
1 boneless pork loin, three to four pounds
2 apples, cores discarded and flesh cut into matchsticks
1⁄3 pound of butter
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon ground sage
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
salt and pepper
flour for dredging
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup port wine
Place the pork loin on the cutting board. Cut parallel to the cutting board to “unroll” the meat in half-inch thickness. Lay the resulting flat piece of pork out flat and pound as necessary to achieve a reasonable uniform thickness.
Dot the pork with butter, then season with sage and rosemary leaves. Cover with apple matchsticks, leaving an inch at the wide end.
Roll it up and tie it tight. Add salt and pepper to the flour and dredge the pork in the flour, coating it well. Bring 1 tablespoon of canola oil just to smoking, and sear all sides of the pork.
Stick a probe thermometer in the center meat, and cook at 350 until 135 degrees (about 50 minutes). Meanwhile, add the stock and port wine to the pan juices and reduce by half. Make sure the the pork rests for 15 minutes, then slice into pinwheels and serve with the port wine reduction on the side.
Pork Osso Bucco
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 pork shanks (fresh — not cured hocks)
Flour for dredging
Salt and pepper
1 yellow onion, chopped
½ cup carrots, chopped
½ cup celery, chopped
2 teaspoons garlic
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup chicken stock (have some on reserve in case you need a little more)
1 14-ounce can of diced tomato
2 teaspoons basil
One pound of your favorite pasta
Preheat your oven to 325º F. While the oven is heating up, add salt and pepper to the flour. Dredge the shanks in the seasoned flour.
Once seasoned, heat the oil and brown the shanks in a large pan. This can be your roasting pan or a skillet. Do not crowd the shanks. If there is not enough room for all four shanks, do two at a time.
When the shanks are browned, remove them and add the vegetables to the pan. Sauté the vegetables for just a few minutes until they start to brown a little.
They will continue to cook with the meat while braising. If the vegetables appear dry, add a touch more olive oil.
Add the wine to deglaze the pan of all the brown bits of meat and vegetables that might be stuck to the bottom of the pan. Let the wine cook down until most of it is cooked off. Add the chicken stock, basil and diced tomato (with juice) and bring to a boil.
As soon as you come to a boil, turn off the heat, add the pork shanks, cover with a tight-fitting lid and transfer to the oven. Let this cook for about 2 hours. When the meat is tender and falling off the bone, it’s done.
About half an hour before the meat is done, cook your pasta according to the package directions.
When the meat is done, carefully remove the shanks from the pot, trying not to let all the meat fall off the bone. Also remove and discard the Bouquet Garni. Using a hand blender, if you have one, puree the sauce until smooth. If you don’t have one, use your regular blender or food processor. You can also use a food mill if you have one.
Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve one shank with a quarter of the pasta.
4 (5-ounce) thinly sliced pork cutlets
4 slices thinly sliced prosciutto
8 fresh sage leaves, plus more for garnish
All-purpose flour, for dredging
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons dry white wine
1⁄4 cup chicken broth
Lemon wedges, for serving
Put the cutlets side by side on a sheet of plastic wrap. Lay two sage leaves and then a piece of prosciutto on top of each piece of pork and cover with another piece of plastic. Gently flatten the cutlets with a rolling pin or meat mallet, until the pieces are about 1⁄4-inch thick and the prosciutto has adhered to the pork.
Remove the plastic wrap. Put some flour in a shallow platter and season with a fair amount of salt and pepper; mix with a fork to combine. Dredge the cutlet in the seasoned flour, shaking off the excess.
Heat the oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large skillet over medium flame. Put the pork in the pan, prosciutto-side down first. Cook for 3 minutes to crisp it up and then flip the cutlet over and saute the other side for 2 minutes, until golden. Transfer the saltimbocca to a serving platter, and keep warm.
Add the wine to the pan, stirring to bring up all the delicious flavor in the bottom; let the wine cook down for a minute to burn off some of the alcohol. Add the chicken broth and remaining tablespoon of butter; swirl the pan around. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the sauce over the saltimbocca, garnish with sage leaves and lemon wedges; serve immediately.
— Recipes courtesy of chef Michael Taylor
Smoke And Fire Pork Tenderloin with Sweet Onion Slaw
Sweet Onion Slaw:
4 cups packaged coleslaw mix with carrots
1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced
1/2 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1/2 yellow bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1/2 cup Ranch salad dressing
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon lime juice
1/2 cup hickory-flavored barbecue sauce
2 chipotle chiles packed in adobo sauce, minced*
2 pork tenderloins, about 2 pounds total
2 tablespoons garlic-flavored oil
For Slaw, combine coleslaw mix, onion and bell peppers in large bowl. Combine dressing, cilantro and lime juice in a small bowl; toss dressing mixture with coleslaw mixture just until all ingredients are well coated. Refrigerate, covered, until ready to serve.
For pork, prepare grill with medium-hot fire. Combine barbecue sauce with chipotle chiles. Brush tenderloin with garlic-flavored oil. Grill 8 minutes per side, or until meat thermometer inserted in thickest part reads 150 degrees F. Brush tenderloin generously with barbecue sauce mixture and grill a couple more minutes, about one minute per side. Let tenderloin stand 5 minutes before slicing.
To serve, place slaw in center of platter. Surround with sliced tenderloin. Remaining sauce can be served at the table.
*Wear rubber gloves when handling hot chiles
The slaw can be made up to three hours ahead for this spicy dish. The slaw is a great partner for spicy pork. Serve with fresh seasonal fruit and plenty of iced tea.
Pineapple Curried Pork Chops
4 boneless pork chops, 3/4-inch thick
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
2 teaspoons butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 12-ounce can apple juice
1 8 3/4-ounce can crushed pineapple, undrained
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
Heat oil in heavy skillet; brown chops on both sides. Remove chops from pan and set aside. Melt butter in pan; sauté onion and garlic until light brown, about 5-6 minutes. Stir in curry powder, apple juice and pineapple; bring to a boil. Return chops to pan. Cover and simmer 8-10 minutes or until tender. Salt and pepper to taste.
Coriander Pork Loin with Currant Sauce
2-1/2 pound boneless pork loin roast
1/4 cup whole coriander seeds
6 juniper berries
6 black peppercorns
1 cup fresh French bread crumbs
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup water
1 cup currant jelly
Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Place pork on rack in shallow pan. Place coriander, juniper and peppercorns in work bowl of food processor or blender; cover*. Process 30 seconds. Add bread crumbs, garlic and salt. Process 30 seconds. Gradually add the oil and water, processing until thick mixture is formed. Press bread mixture onto top and sides of roast, placing the majority of the mixture on top.
Place in oven and roast for 45 minutes to one hour (about 20 minutes per pound), until internal temperature on a thermometer reads 150 degrees F. Remove roast from oven; let rest until temperature reaches 160 degrees F, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, melt preserves in small saucepan over low heat. Skim any fat from roast pan drippings; stir into melted jelly. Pass sauce with sliced roast.
Bourbon-Glazed Fruit and Nut-Stuffed Pork Roast
2-pound boneless single loin pork roast
1 tablespoon dried thyme
2/3 cup bourbon
2/3 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon molasses
1/4 cup light cream
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pitted dates
1/4 cup coarsely chopped dried apricots
1/4 cup finely chopped pecans
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 tablespoon molasses
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Heat oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium bowl, toss together all stuffing ingredients, set aside.
In a large saucepan, combine bourbon, broth and molasses; bring to a boil, remove from heat and set aside.
Butterfly (cut lengthwise almost all the way through) the pork loin. Lay open and pat flat. Starting the center of the opened loin, butterfly again on the left side. Butterfly again on the right hand side, lay open and pat flat. Evenly spread stuffing over loin. Roll the loin up, like a jelly roll, and tie securely at 2-3 inch intervals with kitchen twine; place in a shallow roasting pan, sprinkle with the tablespoon of thyme and pour bourbon mixture over. Roast 45 minutes-1 hour, or until internal temperature on a thermometer reads 150 degrees F. basting occasionally with bourbon glaze.
Remove pork from pan, reserving the drippings; let rest until temperature reaches 160 degrees F, about 10 minutes, keep warm.
Add cream and 1/4 teaspoon salt to pan drippings. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until slightly thickened. Slice pork, removing twine as necessary, and arrange on serving platter. Serve with pan sauce.
Stuffed Chops in Sweet Paella
Chef Michael Taylor's 2009 Taste of Elegance entry
One half gallon water
1 cup kosher salt
1 cup brown sugar
4 thick cut double bone in pork loin chops
For the stuffing:
1 Tbl. chopped thyme leaves
½ cup butter
1 16 ounce can of peaches in natural juices
For the Broth:
3 pints pork stock
2 chopped Italian tomatoes
I onion, quartered
For the Paella:
The four stuffed pork chops, salted and peppered lightly
1 cup warm water
A pinch of saffron, (a tenth to a quarter gram)
8 teaspoons olive oil
1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
1 Vidalia or other good sweet onion, very coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons chopped garlic
2 Italian tomatoes, chopped.
4 cups short grained rice - Spanish Valencia or Bomba (use Arborio if you have to)
Four cups of the broth, divided
Remaining juices from peaches
1 cup sweet corn, preferably Illinois Supersweet, cut fresh from cob.
1 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
¾ teaspoon while pepper
¾ teaspoon thyme
¾ teaspoon celery salt
¾ teaspoon basil
½ cup chopped chives, divided.
For the Brine:
Dissolve the salt and sugar in the water. Pour into a shallow pan that will accommodate the chops in one layer. Add the chops to the brine and weight down to completely submerge. Let it for six to eight hours, refrigerated.
For the Broth:
Add the tomatoes and onion to the cool water. Bring to a high boil, reduce the heat and keep at a low boil until reduced by about half. Strain solids out. Reduce heat - keep hot, but do not allow boiling to recommence.
For the Stuffing:
Drain peaches, reserving the liquid. With a fork, force the chopped thyme leaves into the butter. Loosen the straight end of the bone from the meat. Press the butter mixture into the gap. Then push as much peach as you can into the gap. Secure the peaches with twine or toothpicks. Set aside.
For the Paella and finish:
Soak saffron in the warm water for at least ten minutes.
Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Place the pork in a roasting pan, bones pointing upward. Bake for 6 minutes, and then reduce heat to 325. Cook approximately thirty minutes, to an internal temperature of about 125.
Heat a medium large paella pan or a 14 inch skillet over medium heat. While pork chops are roasting, sweat the sweet onion, garlic and pepper in the olive oil. Do not caramelize, but cook until translucent, about five minutes. Add the rice and stir well to make sure rice is well coated with the oil, about two minutes. Add tomatoes and cook until tomato liquid is evaporated.
Add two cups of the broth and increase heat to a strong simmer. Add the saffron and the water that it steeped in. Add the peach juices. Reduce liquid by half. Add spices, corn, one half the chopped chives and two more cups of broth. Preheat grill if you have one available, to its highest setting.
Remove pork chops from oven. Increase heat to 350 degrees. Place chops bone side down in paella pan. Add any pan drippings to paella pan and return to oven. Cook fifteen more minutes until pork reaches internal temperature of 145 degrees. Remove from oven. Place pork on warm plate and tent with foil to keep warm while it rests.
Check doneness of rice. It should be al dente. If the rice is undercooked and dry, add a little more broth. If too wet, place pan on hot grill (this only works if you have a real paella pan. If using a skillet, just return it to the oven or the stove top.) If using the grill, you want to have some liquid that you are going to bring to a boil while you lightly crisp the bottom part of the rice layer (be careful not to burn it). When the rice is cooked and almost dry, remove from heat and let rest, lightly tented in foil, for about 5 minutes.
Plating: Place a small amount of paella in the center of the plate. Remove any strings or toothpicks from the chops. Place the chop, bone side down, on top of the paella. Mound more paella over the top of the chop, into the cradle formed by the bone. Spoon more paella around the chop and garnish with remaining chives.
Recipes courtesy of Illinois Pork Producers
Story published Friday, September 4, 2009 ( Volume 4, Number 5 )