The other pink meat

Growing up, the meat of choice in our house was pork.  My mom LOVED pork.  Stuffed pork tenderloin.  Pork loin chops.  Pork shoulder chops.  Chops broiled or grilled or (shudder) microwaved with a can of Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup and served with buttered egg noodles (the dinner of champions!). There wasn’t a lot of chicken consumption going on in our house (mom thought it was boring), and red meat was a special occasion thing.  But oh, the pig.

I always liked pork a lot, too — I loved the flavor, and I REALLY loved how it went with pretty much anything.  One thing I DIDN’T love was the texture.  Being a baby boomer, my mother was convinced that pork could not have a speck of pink in it, lest we all get food poisoning and end up shitting our pants for the next week.  OR DIE. 

The solution?  Why, cook the hell out of it, of course!  The result was often a bit…tough.  Dry.  Like pork jerky.  (I love you, mom.)

I was thinking about this today when I had a pork chop for lunch at Houston’s.  And boy oh boy, was I happy to find that Houston’s a) brines their chops (essential for the lean cuts) and b) cooks them to about medium/medium-well, with just enough pink on the inside.

How can I be sure I won’t get sick?  I can’t.  BUT, I’m here to tell you a secret that I learned in culinary school, a secret so explosive that if the American populace found out about it, pork consumption would go up ten fold because people would realize how delicious it is when it doesn’t have the texture of old shoe leather.

Ready?  Okay.  Whew.

The likelihood of you getting sick from pork is slim.  Real slim.  Like, if you’re raising your own pigs and feeding them small children, then MAYBE you’ll get it slim.  There’s been nary a case of trichinosis reported in the U.S. since the fifties, but because it was a bit more prevalent then, people cooked pork until it was super well done, and thus the myth was perpetuated.  Okay, maybe I shouldn’t say myth, because there’s always a possibility you could get trichinosis (consider this my legal disclaimer), but it’s really, really small.  You’re more likely to get it if you eat bear, walrus or dog.  Seriously.

In any case, pigs contract trichinosis by eating infected “raw meat garbage” (ew), and that’s done been outlawed in the States.  You can also freeze cuts of pork for a given amount of time relative to the meat’s thickness, and that’ll kill off the parasite, too.

Of course, if you’re buying meat from these people, then your chances of BAD KARMA infection is probably really high.  Don’t buy meat from them.  That’s gross.  When I do choose to eat pork at home, I like to buy from this great little place.

I would also be remiss if I didn’t point out that trichinosis is NOT the same as trichomoniasis.  There was some confusion about this in culinary school, and as you can imagine, hilarity ensued.

Here’s a lovely shot of leftovers from my lunch of double cut pork chop with veggies.  Embrace the pink.  Fear not the pink.  Love the pink.

Pretty in pink -- but it's also cold.  After rewarming this, it was still pink, but less so.  Three hours later, and I'm still alive.
Pretty in pink -- I didn't realize when I shot this, but this meat looks much pinker than it really was.  It's also straight out of the refrigerator cold.  Cooked cold meats always look REALLY pink.  So don't freak out mama: after rewarming this, it was still pink, but just slightly. Three hours later, and I'm still alive.  And the purple tinting on that cauliflower is actually FROM purple cauliflower, but I didn't include that in the plating.  Because purple cauliflower would just confuse people.


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