Those cooks who consider pork to be enjoyable but not for the diet-conscious will be pleasantly surprised to learn that there are several lean varieties now available.
For example, Trim Pork, which is 100 per cent New Zealand-grown pork trimmed of all visible fat, has a saturated fat content of 4 grams per 100g of meat or less, and is not marinated or coated. This means it carries the National Heart Foundation's tick of approval.
However, the number of calories will depend on how the pork is cooked. A stir-fried pork dish may have fewer calories than deep-fried chicken, but pork will have considerably more calories when served in a dish with a creamy sauce.
There is little fat marbling the tissue of traditional pork, and any outside fat can be trimmed before or after cooking.
Pork is a versatile meat and is great in stir-fries, casseroles, chilli dishes and curries, and as a barbecue mainstay.
Recently a new product, Perfect Pork, has been introduced to take the guesswork out of cooking. The pork is Canterbury-grown, and the company has enforced stringent requirements on farmers to ensure their properties are well managed, with a strong focus on animal welfare and sustainability. Grain grown on their farms is fed to the animals.
The pork comes in revolutionary new packaging. Each roast is encased in a type of bag that allows it to be cooked at a high temperature for a short time. You can have a small pork roast on the table in just 35 minutes.
The cooking bag initially retains all the moisture and flavour, then splits near the end of cooking to allow for natural colouring to take place. You can find packs of Perfect Pork in many supermarkets.
The secret to extra-tender meat is to always rest it after roasting. I draped a thick towel over the top of my Perfect Pork sirloin roast and rested it for 10 minutes before carving. If you are cooking an unpackaged roast, cover it first with foil, then with a towel.
The key to producing tender, juicy pork is to avoid over-cooking. Pork schnitzels take about one minute each side to cook. Stir-fry pork takes just two minutes to cook. Pork rump steak or medallions may take 5-8 minutes per side, depending on thickness.
SIRLOIN ROAST PORK WITH STUFFED BAKED APPLES
Perfect Pork offers 500g sirloin roasts in special oven bags. If not available, purchase a boned sirloin or mini-roast.
500g NZ Trim Pork sirloin roast, or a mini-roast
1 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
4 small Granny Smith apples
3/4 cup fresh breadcrumbs
2 Tbsp finely chopped sage leaves
1 shallot, diced
2 Tbsp table spread
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C.
If using a traditional roast, brush it with the oil, then season with salt and pepper.
Core the apples with an apple corer. Using the tip of a sharp knife, cut through the skin around the circumference of each apple.
Combine the breadcrumbs, sage, salt, pepper and shallot. Mix in 1 tablespoon of the table spread. Stuff the apples with this mixture, and dot the tops with the remaining table spread. Place in a roasting pan with the pork.
Cook the Perfect Pork roast for 35 minutes according to the instructions. Cook the traditional roast for 10 minutes at 200C, then reduce the heat to 160C and continue cooking for 35-40 minutes.
Cover and rest the roast for 10 minutes before carving.
Remove the apples once soft and cooked. Keep warm.
Great served with a kumara mash and steamed green beans. Serves 3-4.
SCHNITZEL WITH ASIAN FLAVOURS
300-400g 100% NZ Trim Pork schnitzel or a Perfect Pork seven-schnitzel pack
1/2 cup flour
Flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 large egg
2 Tbsp coconut milk or plain milk
1 cup dried breadcrumbs
3 kaffir lime leaves, deveined and finely chopped
2 Tbsp each: chopped coriander leaves, mint
2-3 Tbsp rice bran oil
If necessary, pound the schnitzels with a rolling pin until thin. Combine the flour, salt and pepper in a shallow dish.
Whisk the egg and coconut milk or milk in another shallow bowl.
Place the breadcrumbs, kaffir lime leaves and chopped herbs in a third shallow dish.
Coat the schnitzels with the flour, dip them in the beaten egg, then coat them with the crumb mixture. Chill for 5 minutes.
Heat the oil in a large, non-stick frying pan over a medium heat. Cook the schnitzels for 1-2 minutes each side, until golden. Serve immediately. Serves 4.
MUSTARD & POMEGRANATE BBQ PORK
500g 100% NZ Trim Pork steaks
1 Tbsp wholegrain mustard
1/4 cup pomegranate glaze
1 tsp Chinese five-spice
Cut the steaks into four portions.
Combine the mustard, pomegranate glaze and Chinese five-spice. Brush over the cutlets. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Pre-heat a barbecue or grill.
Remove the steaks from the fridge, scraping off any excess marinade. Grill on a medium-high heat for about 8-10 minutes, depending on the thickness, turning often. Brush with the reserved glaze near the end of cooking.
Great served with risotto or creamy polenta. Serves 4.
HOISIN PORK BELLY
Perfect Pork provides pork belly roasts in unique oven bags.
500g-600g boned pork belly roast
1 Tbsp canola oil
Fresh flaky sea salt
2 Tbsp hoisin sauce
1 Tbsp lightly toasted sesame seeds
Preheat the oven to 220C.
If using a traditional pork belly roast, remove the skin. While the roast is cooking, rub the skin with oil and grill it to make crackling.
Trim any excess fat off the roast, if preferred. Brush with the oil and rub with the sea salt. Cover with baking film.
Place the pork in an oven pan.
Roast the Perfect Pork belly roast for 35 minutes.
Roast the traditional pork belly for 10 minutes at 200C, then reduce the temperature to 170C and continue roasting until cooked (about 30 minutes). This will depend on the thickness. The internal temperature should be 71C. Cover and rest for 10 minutes before serving.
Brush the pork with the hoisin sauce and sprinkle with the sesame seeds. Serves 4.
Copyright Jan Bilton
- The Marlborough Express