How To Perfectly Cook Your Pastured Meats
One of the things we love about the meat we raise it that is is so full of flavor. I used to think the pork was dry, tough, and bland. I would never ever choose a pork chop over a steak... until I started raising heritage breed pastured pork. What a difference! Our pork is pink, not "the other white meat" like advertised, has fantastic marbling, and when cooked correctly, it is tender, juicy and needs nothing more than a little salt and pepper. There are a few things you need to keep in mind though when cooking our pork.
There are two basic methods of cooking:
First Method: Hot, Dry and Fast
High temperatures and short cooking times such as grilling, sauteeing, roasting and broiling.
Second Method: Moist, Low and Slow
Lower temperatures and longer cooking times. This includes braising, stewing, poaching, and simmering
How to Choose the Right Method
Typically your cut of meat will dictate which method you use. Choose the wrong method and you may end of with a tough, chewy and inedible dinner. However, if you choose the right method you will be rewarded with a tender, juicy, and delicious main course.
The more tender cuts of the animal will generally call for the hot and dry cooking method. These cuts include the loin, pork chops, and pork belly (sometimes). The tougher cuts are from the muscles that are used more in the animal. These include the roast and hams (if uncured) and do best when given a considerable amount of time to break down the tough connective tissue. I also prefer this method to cook ribs so they fall off the bone when done.
Hot, Dry and Fast
You want your grill or pan preheated and really really hot. You may have to open a window and prepare your kids that the smoke alarm might go off....ask me how I know. You want to get a nice sear on the meat, then move it to a cooler spot on the grill or the oven for just a couple of minutes to finish cooking through.
If I can give you one piece of advice it would be to get a meat thermometer. This inexpensive tool completely changed my results when cooking with the hot and fast method.
With a meat thermometer you don't have to guess when your meat is finished and risk over or under cooking. You will know without a doubt and will end up with perfect results every time. The USDA recommends a minimum temperature of 145 degrees in the thickest past of the meat. I recommend removing the meat at 135 degrees and loosely covering and letting it rest for 5-10 minutes. The meat continues to cook from the residual heat once removed from the pan, and this ensures you don't accidentally overcook it.
Moist, Low and Slow
There is nothing like a roast slow cooking in the oven that fills your home with the most amazing smell. Talk about comfort food!
In the cooler months I love to braise a roast with some herbs, wine and mushrooms all day. The house smells fantastic and our patience is rewarded with tender meat that just falls apart. Add some mashed potatoes or noodles and you are all set.
Even though this method of cooking generally takes hours, it's mostly hands off time. You spend a few minutes throwing everything into a pot then you stick it in the oven or slow cooker and your work is done until dinnertime.
Spring and summer are typically crazy busy around here, but we still want to eat well. So I'll throw a roast in the slow cooker and by dinner time we have delicious, fall-apart pulled pork sandwiches with very little effort on my part. If the meat doesn't easily fall apart with a fork, it's not done...keep cooking!
No matter which cut of meat or method of cooking you choose, our heritage breed pastured pork will taste infinitely better and have more vitamins and minerals than pork raised in confinement barns. With your purchase of The Flying Pig farm meat, you are supporting a small family-owned farm, your community, and the regeneration of the land... and you'll have our undying affection!