Move over, beef! Pork can be king of the grill, too. From chops to ribs, roasts to tenderloins, pork grilling options are endless - and economical! And many cuts of pork are very lean, making them an excellent alternative to chicken and a super healthy grilling choice in general.
When shopping for pork, choose meat that is even in colour and has a rich pink or peach hue. Never choose pork that is turning grey or brown. There are many cuts of pork that are suitable for grilling, including centre cut chops, butterfly chops, tenderloin, tenderloin medallions, back ribs and side ribs. Roasts can also be grilled, but should be de-boned first or they'll take a very long time to cook. Any type of boneless pork is suitable for cutting into chunks and threading onto skewers for grilling. Ground pork and sausages made with pork are also good grill choices.
Storing, Handling and Preparing
Sealed, fresh pork cuts can be kept in the refrigerator for up to four days. Sealed, ground pork will keep in the fridge for one or two days. Well-wrapped cuts of pork will keep well in the freezer for up to six months. Ground pork can be kept for about three months in the freezer.
Always keep pork cool. Make sure your refrigerator is between 0°C and 5°C (32°F and 41°F). Never defrost pork at room temperature. Instead, thaw it in the refrigerator, in cold water, or in the microwave if you plan to cook it immediately. And always marinate pork in the fridge- and use fresh marinade to baste the meat.
There was a time pork had to be served well done, but that has changed. It's at its most juicy and tender when cooked to medium - 160°F/70°C. (The exception is ground pork and sausage, which, like all ground meats, should be cooked thoroughly.)
Good to Know
- Pre-heat grill to high, then reduce to medium and put the pork on a well oiled grill
- Use tongs instead of a fork to turn chops and medallions. A fork will pierce the meat and the juices will run out, making it less tender
- Don't overcook your pork. It dries out quickly and loses a great deal of flavour when overdone. Use a meat thermometer to get your pork to medium (160° /70°C)
- If threading chunks of pork on wood or bamboo skewers, presoak the skewers in water for an hour so they don't flare and burn.
- Pork is also fantastic when smoked, and this can be done using wood chips on any barbecue. Wood chips are available in shavings or wood chunks (which are a few inches thick). If you're using shavings, you'll need a holding pan. This can be purchased, or a tin pie plate will do, too. Larger chunks of wood can be placed directly on a rock grate or charcoal, beneath the pork as it cooks. Before adding wood chunks to your barbecue. soak them in water for at least an hour, so the wood will smoke instead of burn.