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Years ago, cookbooks instructed readers to cook pork until it reached a scorching internal temperature of 180 degrees.  Back then, the pork chops that landed on our plates were dry and leathery, and we often used lubricants like applesauce or sauerkraut to help get them down.  After more careful research, food scientists now tell us that pork is safe to eat after it reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees.  At that temperature, pork can be juicy, tender, and flavorful.  

Substitutes:  turkey OR chicken (especially thighs) OR lamb OR veal OR beef (not as lean) OR emu  


pork shoulder    Meat from this section is relatively fatty, which makes for juicy, tender, and flavorful roasts as well as clogged arteries.  

pork loin   This is where we get the leanest and most tender pork cuts.  Since they're lean, these cuts tend to dry out if overcooked.  Pork is safe to eat if it's cooked to an interior temperature of 160 degrees.  There are three main parts of the loin:  the blade end, which is closest to the shoulder and tends to be fatty; the sirloin end, which is closest to the rump and tends to be bony; and the center portion in the middle, which is lean, tender, and expensive.  

pork leg   The meat from this part of the pig is usually made into hams, but fresh leg meat is lean and makes a terrific roast. 

pork side   This is where the spareribs come from.  Other meat from this section is usually cured as bacon and salt pork.

pork picnic shoulder    This comes from the lower part of the pig's shoulder.  It's usually made into smoked hams, but fresh picnic shoulder makes for very juicy barbecued pulled pork.

miscellaneous pork cuts  These cuts come from all over the pig. 

Copyright 1996-2005  Lori Alden