I am sure that most if not all of you are like me and will say that your grandma was a real good cook. Both of mine knew how to cook great main courses and were excellent at baking deserts.
And they learned how to cook from their mom's and their grandmothers who taught them that you need to make sure you cook pork well done so that you kill "that bug" that is in the pork. All they knew was there was some bug in the pork and if you cooked the pork a lot it would kill that bug.
Let's talk about "that bug" later.
For now, let's get to cooking that boneless pork loin roast that we talked about cutting from a boneless pork loin in our recent blog:
I removed my 2 1/2 pound boneless pork loin roast from the refrigerator and after placing my thermometer in the center, I placed it loosely wrapped in the butcher paper on the kitchen counter. So what happened to its internal temperature during the hour that it set there on the counter. Well, let's take a look. As you can see in the picture below it registered 37°F when I first removed it from the refrigerator.
I left it covered on the kitchen counter for one hour and look how many degrees it moved up in temperature. As you can see the thermometer is registering 49°F. In one hour the internal temperature increased by 12°. And from my food safety classes, once you start the temperature increasing then keep the temperature moving thru the 40° - 140°F range.
Now everyone's refrigerator temperature and house temperature will be different so your temperature difference could be different than this. But now you have a good idea what you might expect.
Next I sprinkled some salt, pepper and a little onion powder on all sides. You use whatever spice you like. Next, I heated up a Dutch Oven on the stove top on medium high heat with just enough oil to coat the bottle. If you don't have a dutch oven, you can use a skillet. When the oil was just starting to smoke, I placed the roast in it with the fat side down and browned it for about 3 minutes and then turned the roast over to brown the other side. I like to put the fat side down first so that some of that fat starts to melt off and it helps brown the other lean side. As this was browning, I cut up one sweet potato, one large onion and two carrots. I combined everything in my Dutch Oven and put the lid on it and into the oven it went. If you don't have a Dutch Oven then use a casserole or some deep container that you can cover. As you can see in the picture below it made for a great looking beginning for a delicious dinner.
And now for what I feel is most important part. The cooking temperature of the oven. Low and slow is best.
As we might remember from science class, water boils at 212°F. So why do you want to turn that oven up so high and cook (boil) all the water or juice out of that piece of meat? I like to set my oven at somewhere between 225° - 250°F. For this roast I set the oven at 230°. I know that is over 212°, but it is low enough and still won't dry the meat out like a 325° or 350° oven will. And one hour and 15 minutes later I removed the most moist and tender roast from the Dutch Oven and as you can see below the internal temperature was 143°F.
Yes, I removed the pork roast from the oven at an internal temperature of 143° F.
Definitely not your Grandmother's pork!!!
I placed the roast on a cutting board and covered with some foil for 20 minutes while the vegetables finished cooking in the oven at 300°F.
As you can see in the picture below, the roast kept cooking and the temperature increased to 15o°F.
I then sliced the pork and served. To bad you can't see the juice on each slice in this picture. But trust me, it is really juicy and has great flavor. It's not dry and tough. It was delicious.
Now grandma knew how to cook and she cooked pork the way she was taught. She was worried about keeping her family safe and making sure that she killed "that bug".
So what was "that bug"? The answer to that question is, trichinosis. Back in grandma's day, and before, many hogs were raised by feeding them garbage. Some of this garbage may have had some trichina in it that then became part of the pork. If a person got sick from trichina they were told that they ate pork that was not cooked enough so the next time grandma cooked pork she made darn sure she cooked it enough.
So great grandma taught grandma who taught mom to cook that pork well done and then cook it some more just to make sure. After all, had to kill "that bug". But guess what, she did not have to because that trichinosis bug is killed at a much lower temperature.
With the fact that a pig fed grains gains more weight faster, today's farmer feeds his pigs grains. Now, there could be some farmers feeding garbage but these are small operators that raise their pigs for themselves. And by law that garbage needs to be cooked thoroughly.
But, regardless, if we cook the pork properly, we will kill any trichina. Notice I said properly and not well done. So I've listed below some information from USDA concerning cooking temperatures and times.
Pork can be safely cooked to a slightly lower temperature provided that the internal meat temperature is at least as hot for at least as long as listed in the USDA table below.Nonetheless, it is prudent to allow a margin of error for variation in internal temperature within a particular cut of pork, which may have bones that affect temperature uniformity. In addition, your thermometer has measurement error that must be considered. Cook pork for significantly longer and at a higher uniform internal temperature than listed here to be safe.
Internal Temperature Internal Temperature Minimum Time
120 49 1260
122 50.0 570
124 51.1 270
126 52.2 120
128 53.4 60
130 54.5 30
132 55.6 15
134 56.7 6
136 57.8 3
138 58.9 2
140 60.0 1
142 61.1 1
144 62.2 Instant
Many chefs consider 145°F internal temperature medium rare for pork. So, you could cook your pork at home or at a restaurant order your pork medium rare and feel safe. Trust me when it comes to this type of pork roast, you will have a much better eating experience.
Look above at the USDA table, 144°F internal temperature kills "that bug" instantly. And that very moist, tender and flavorful pork roast that we just cooked reached 150°F. More than high enough to kill "that bug". And it was DELICIOUS.
Try it, and feel safe having a great eating experience. Let us know how yours turned out.