A few days before Thanksgiving, we add the Butterball hotline number to our speed dial. We’ve never used it, but knowing that someone is on call to help with whatever turkey crisis we’re in is a comfort. We feel the same way about the Pork Board website (www.porkbeinspired.com). Although we’ve never run into trouble with pork chops or tenderloins and learned years ago that one of the best ways to fix pork is to braise it with apple cider and fresh vegetables, it always helps to have an expert standing by.
As it turns out, the questions the Pork Board gets asked most often are about food safety and overcooking. Most people know to wash their hands before cooking and not use the same plate for uncooked and cooked meat, but in a sign of the times when everyone is a frugal cook, people ask if it’s safe to cook pork that’s been sitting on the counter overnight. Absolutely not! About overcooking, the Board recommends taking pork off the heat or out of the oven when its temperature is 145F.
Finally, for help choosing pork, we spoke to Dr. David Meisinger, a meat science expert at Iowa State University. Look for reddish-pink, he said, as it has the best flavor and is the juiciest. “The other white meat,” it turns out, refers to pork after it’s cooked.
Cider-Braised Pork Loin with Carrots and Onion
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 (2-pound) boneless pork loin
2 medium onions, vertically sliced (about 2 1/2 cups)
4 medium carrots, cut diagonally into 1/4-inch slices (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 celery stalks with leaves, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon dried rubbed sage
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup apple cider
1. Heat oil over medium-high heat in a Dutch oven. Add pork and cook until well-browned on both sides. Remove to a plate. Add onions, carrots and celery to pan; cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until onions are tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in garlic, sage, thyme, salt and pepper.
2. Return pork and any juices to Dutch oven and pour cider over top. Cover and simmer, basting occasionally, until temperature on meat thermometer inserted in middle reaches 145F, about 1 1/4 hours. Remove roast from pan and let rest 10 minutes. Slice pork and serve with vegetables and pan sauce. Serves 6.
Per serving: 320 calories, 13g fat, 34g prot., 16g carbs., 3g fiber, 430mg sodium.
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Photo credit: Mark Boughton Photography / styling by Teresa Blackburn