Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Russ Parsons Says Pork Should be Brined and Cooked to 155

As a follow-up to the USDA pork news from yesterday, we have Russ Parsons weigh in from the LA Times:
But here's the rub, albeit from the standpoint of flavor: Though some really good cooks do recommend cooking pork to less than 160 degrees, I think there is a good reason not to, and it has nothing to do with food safety — it just doesn't taste as good. Granted, the meat will be moister (particularly if you're talking about lean cuts from the loin and tenderloin). But as repeated taste tests have shown, pork cooked to lower temperatures has what is generally called a "serumy" or "metallic" flavor. Probably better to brine the meat for moisture, then cook it to at least 155 for flavor.

The recommendations err in the other direction when it comes to cooking other whole cuts to 145 degrees. That's not a bad recommendation for something like a leg of lamb, which has a lot of sinew and connective tissue that needs to be softened. But cooking lamb chops, racks or an expensive cut of beef to 145 degrees puts it squarely in the "medium" doneness range -- a culinary crime against good meat.
The first dissenter! I have no real idea about this, as I haven't cooked a pork chop in several years (pork should be fatty)... as when I cook pork it's generally a shoulder (or belly or spareribs or...) that's cooked to a much higher temperature to break down connective tissue. Ruhlman was calling for 135(!) on Twitter yesterday, so I'd be curious as to whether there will be any kind of foodie fight here. One can only hope.