Pork Cooking and Handling Tips
For heaven’s sake, please avoid using microwave ovens for cooking any meat product.
For large cuts (roasts), cook on low heat (200-250 degrees F) for at least 40 minutes per pound. If cooking a whole shoulder or ham, park the meat in the oven overnight if desired. Up to an hour a pound is good cooking time for a large cut. Covering the meat is a good idea for preventing it from drying out. To crisp up the fat, finish on the grill or under the broiler. Crockpotting is a great option too. When crockpotting any of our meats, only a very small amount of liquid (4-8 ounces of water, wine, beer, or whatever you like) is necessary to add before cooking.
Bratwurst and Italian sausage – I recommend grilling over low-medium heat. Just stretch the sausage out into a straight-ish line and grill for 8-10 minutes per side. Cut into bun-size portions. Cooking it while it’s curled up makes it cook unevenly and results in sausages that won’t work well in a bun. Cutting before cooking can make the sausage lose its juices and dry out. For a creative burger, or to use the meat easily in a sauce, casserole or soup recipe, use the tip of a sharp knife to slit the casing and remove it. Once out of the casing the sausage is easy to pinch into small pieces.
Alternatively, you can simmer on medium-low in a covered skillet. Some folks like to add a little beer or water to the bottom of the pan. You can also add peppers, onions, tomatoes, sauerkraut etc. Cook 8-10 minutes, flip the sausage, cover and cook for 8-10 more minutes, then remove the lid and let the moisture evaporate off. This will also help brown/crisp up the skin.
For chops, grilling, broiling or frying are good options. About 7-9 minutes a side is enough. Use MEDIUM heat, and be careful to not overcook! If using your oven’s broiler, set the pan on the middle shelf unless you can control the broiler temperature. Too hot = tough meat!
Our uncured bacon is not smoked, cured or salted, so you get to season it yourself! We recommend grilling (indirect heat), frying or baking (375 degrees for 8-10 minutes per side) with a bit of salt and pepper at a minimum. Other fun ways to spice it is by using chipotle or smoked paprika. If you like your bacon sweet, add just a little brown sugar, sorghum, maple syrup or honey right at the end of cooking while the meat is still hot. Use Medium Heat and be careful to not overcook bacon, especially when grilling (it will burst into flames). Another good use for this is to dice it and sautee with garlic, then toss in some cooked pasta with fresh tomato and basil.
Ribs, backbones and neckbones are best slow-cooked. A crockpot works well, or bake at 250 degrees with the meat covered. Then, baste with your favorite sauce or glaze and finish on the grill or under the broiler. When crockpotting any of our meats, only a very small amount of liquid (4-8 ounces of water, wine, beer, or whatever you like) is necessary to add before cooking.
Shelf lives – Under refrigeration, our vacuum-packed products have 21 days if sealed in their original vacuum package. All products should be used within 7-9 days once the original packaging is open, as long as it is kept in an airtight container or bag. In the freezer, vacuumed products will keep up to 2 years; non-vacuumed for 6 months. The exception here is lard – in the fridge, it will keep at least 6 months. In the freezer, over a year. You can leave it on the counter for months, but refrigeration will extend the shelf life. Your nose will tell you if it is rancid.
To refreeze or not to refreeze? Refreezing thawed pork doesn’t create a food safety problem. It can degrade the texture of a fine cut of meat, but there will be virtually no noticeable difference with ground products. If you can’t use the whole pack in one meal, cook the whole thing anyway and freeze the unused portion if you don’t plan to eat it in the next few days. Thaw and gently reheat before serving.
Suggested Uses by Cut
- Shoulder / butt / picnic
- pulled pork for BBQ, sandwiches, soups, burritos, rice or pasta dishes
- pernil, ‘pot roast’, smoked pork
- saltimbocca, pork terrine, pork confit
- make your own sausage
- holiday ham (brine or dry rub), slice for sandwiches
- shepherd’s pie, casseroles, soups or stews
- “steamship” – roast a whole ham and carve tableside
- cut into cubes and marinate for kabobs
- country pate`
- slice and pound thin, make roulade
- cut your own chops
- roast whole – stuffed or not stuffed
- crown roast
- grill and slice into medallions
- stuff it
- Shanks (aka “hock”)
- osso buco
- slow roast and pull pork for burritos, sandwiches and/or soup
- Spare ribs
- slow roast and glaze with your favorite sauce
- slow roast/braise and enjoy them as-is
- soups, stews, posole, stock
- braise and cook with greens
- Ground pork – great burgers, meatballs, chinese dumplings, soups, chili
- Sausages – on their own or spice upÂ recipes for soups, greens, potatoes, eggs, etc.
- Prosciutto- the classic: wrap melon or figs, use in salads, soups or pasta dishes
- grind for pate`, sausages, chop for souse
- use for stock
- Organs – use for pate`, make your own sausage, or treat your pets!