Pork and Beef are incredibly easy to prepare if you know a couple easy tricks.
tip 1: season well.
there is a trope in the home cooking world that white folks tend not to season our food. having eaten some home cooked meals from other families… it’s hard not to agree! don’t fear the seasoning. and the most essential seasoning you can use is salt. food cooked without salt tastes bland, uninspired, and generally bleh. season as you go, at each step of your cooking, so that your seasonings are interspersed throughout the entire dish; this also helps you use LESS SALT, so if you’re worried about your salt intake… you can control exactly how much goes into your dish.
tip 2: preheat your oven to 350.
beef, pork, and chicken all love to be cooked with consistent heat over a span of time. check your Betty Crocker cookbook, you know, the old standard workhorse of all cookbooks, because there are ~tables~ full of glorious data! reams of data! like, if you have a bone in pork roast that weighs 5 pounds, how long do you need to roast it at 350 to reach 145F internally? there’s a table for that! how long do you need to roast a 12 pound turkey? what do you do with a lamb roast?! oh, the glory of time tested and proven data about all sorts of meat and veg and cooking times. ~sigh~ I love ye olde Betty Crocker Cookbook!!!
tip 3: invest in a meat thermometer.
do you doubt the cooking time? is your oven old, and maybe not as efficient? a meat thermometor gives you the ability to KNOW whether you’re about to serve up salmonella. just make sure not to hit a bone when you’re taking the temperature. beef and pork aim for 145F, chicken, go for 165F. ground meat should be cooked to 160F. fish to 145F or when the flesh is opaque and flakes under fork pressure.
tip 4: it’s ok to aim for slightly under-done.
if you’re cooking a huge mass of meat that you know will be reheated, cook to just slightly underdone! the reheating process will cook it the rest of the way for you, and you won’t wind up with gross rubbery chicken or pork or whatever.
tip 5: sear.
whether you sear before or after your meat has spent time in an oven getting cooked through is up to you. some folks like it before, some after. I like to do it first, so I can wash the pan I seared in while the meat’s finishing in the oven. you do you, and experiment to find which taste you like best!
searing meat creates Maillard Reactions on the surface of your meat. protiens and fat are torn apart and recombined under intense heat to produce novel compounds that our taste buds have evolved to find ~incredibly~ delicious. we don’t even know all of what is going on when we’re searing, or what all of those compounds are, but hot damn does our pallate love it.
two minutes per side of your meat, set a timer, use tongs to manipulate your meat.
tip 6: rest!
let your meat sit and rest before you go after it with a knife! the tissues of the meat need a moment to reabsorb all the fluid you just carefully heated beyond boiling. if you cut it too soon, all that juice runs out, and instead of being in your meat, it’s on the plate. wait 10 minutes to cut your meat; this time lets it reabsorb moisture, and it’ll finish cooking, too, easing its way up to your final cooking temperature.
here’s my pork recipe for you!
pork meat (chops, tenderloin, roast, leg, whatever. lump o’meat!)
salt on all sides
pepper the same.
liberally (and I mean LIBERALLY!!! go hard or go home!) coat with chili powder and paprika. CRUST the meat with seasoning.
sear 2 minutes per side in med-high skillet.
finish in 350 degree oven. chops, around 10 minutes, tenderloin the same. roast, depends on weight. I did 30 minutes on the huge lump yesterday and it came out gently pink in the very center, which is perfection.
I like to eat pork with sweet potatoes, and a strongly flavored green veg (broccoli, brussels sprouts, kale, mustard greens). peel, chop in roughly 1/2 inch lumps, coat in oil, salt, pepper, roast 15 minutes. add similarly mouth size chunked green veg, toss with sweet potatoes, add a touch more oil, salt, pepper, roast another 15 minutes then serve. perfect as is, the veg really shines and the flavor is delicious, but feel free to add one, or all of: shallot, finely chopped, garlic, onion, carrots diced, sage, rosemary, and finish with a spritz of lemon juice to really boost the tasty. (if no lemon juice, try just a bit of white vinegar, balsamic vinegar, rice wine vinegar… something acidic to make your taste buds sit up a bit.)
today’s crock pot chicken:
heat crock pot on high, add oil, one chopped onion, any onion greens it tried to grow, and some root veg you have on hand. I used one sad lonely sweet potato, and then the franken carrot from the garden, roughly chopped. the stuff in the bottom exists to lift the chicken out of it’s juices while it’s cooking, to add some flavor to the inevitable broth, and to become mushy over time (that carrot. oof. so woody!) salt and pepper the veg!
in layers, add your chunks of chicken. each layer, season! salt, pepper, and I used some ‘The Mural’ from Penzey’s Spices, because I LOVE that blend. go hard on the salt on the upper layer, don’t bother to salt the underside of the next layer, it’s literally touching the seasoning and salt on the layer beneath!
I packed it in pretty tight: I’m not going for a roasted chicken effect, but rather a steamed tasty chicken that will fall apart because HOT DAMN that package was freezer burned to hell and back. this chicken meat will go into pot pies, chicken soup, chicken dumplings, chicken salad, and more! I’m not making a main dish, I’m making ingredients today. 😉