a quick healthy mid-week meal or a stunning meal to serve to special guests!
I am very partial to pork fillet. I find one fillet serves 2 or 3 generous servings and the bonus is that there is no fat so it is great for reducing the calories or it carries a rich sauce very well. The same health benefits apply to trimmed pork loin chops or steaks or lean pork neck steaks.
If you buy untrimmed pork fillet always remove the thin membrane covering the muscle as this becomes tough during cooking and prevents the flavours from penetrating the meat.
My favourite accompaniment is a rich and creamy mushroom sauce or a simple fresh herb and garlic flavoured butter.
Or try Aligot, the famous cheesy mashed potato dish from France!
Avoid dryness and season well
Lean pork steaks or chops can be dry if not cooked correctly.
Season well & choose the correct herb
It is important to season the meat before cooking. My rule is to keep it simple by rubbing freshly ground pepper and salt into the surface.
Use fresh herbs
If you have fresh herbs, such as thyme, add a few thyme leaves.
Sage goes very well with pork, but raw sage has little flavour, but once you fry the leaves in a little butter they are sublime.
Oil on meat, not in pan
Do not grill the meat in a pool of oil. The best is to oil the meat when you season it.
A hot pan
Pre-heat a conventional frying pan or a grill pan. Try to invest in a good quality grill pan.
Place the oiled meat directly into the dry pan. Don’t be tempted to move it for at least 2 minutes. Initially the meat will stick, but after 2 minutes a firm ‘crust’ forms, making it easier to turn the meat.
For a 10-15mm thick chop cook for 2 minutes on one side and about 90 seconds on the second side.
Pork fillet is thicker. I usually cut it in half as the thinner ‘tail piece’ will cook slightly quicker. I also cook the fillet on 4 sides, 2 minutes on the first side then about 1 minute on the others.
Place a saucepan lid over the meat for about a minute or two. Chefs will place it in a hot oven to cook through, but this works and saves electricity!
I then slice the fillet and if one or two of the thicker slices require more cooking I pop them back into the pan for just 15-30 seconds per slice!
DO NOT BE TEMPTED TO OVERCOOK PORK
Is pink pork safe to eat?
In bygone days we were warned that pork should be cooked to ‘well done’ or an internal temperature of 75°C – 80°C, but recently a temperature of 70°C is quite acceptable for whole cuts.
Minced pork products still need about 75°C. For minced or ground meat there is a larger surface area of meat that may be contaminated and there is more moisture, bacteria’s best friend!
Pink pork is safe to eat, it will be juicier than overcooked meat
A few years ago the WHO (World Health Organisation) declared that due to hygienic, modern farming and meat handling practices it is safe to consume pale pink cooked pork.
If you purchase pork from unreliable sources (here I am referring to uncontrolled farming practices in areas where hygiene practices are questionable) then rather cook thoroughly it to a high temperature. But I also advise that if you are in an area where these conditions exist, rather opt for a meat free choice and where the food has been thoroughly cooked! Do not eat any raw vegetables or herbs in these circumstances.
I buy all my pork from Sweetwell Farm Butchery on the R44, a few kilometres outside Somerset West.