There’s all sorts of different advice you can read from different chefs regarding food. Some are scientifically proven and others… Not so much. My aim here is to provide tips for somewhat simple tasks that will make your life easier, and will (hopefully) take some of the stress out of cooking.
Pork is arguably the tastiest and cheapest meat you can buy, and learning how to cook it properly is something I would recommend. In this example, I’m using pork loin steaks, which you can buy from pretty much every supermarket out there for under £3.
The first thing to note about pork, is that it has been acceptable to serve it pink for over 7 years, but restaurants and home cooks seem late to adopt this change. Previously, the FDA recommended that pork be served with an internal temperature of 71°c (well-done), but they now recommend 63°c (medium). If you’ve cooked pork loins before, you may have noticed that it’s possible to cook them to an internal ‘medium’ temperature, but the inside is mostly grey as opposed to staying nice and pink like you would experience with beef. This disappoints me, let’s riot.
The most important part about cooking meat is the heat. Unfortunately, when you buy pork loin steaks in a supermarket, they’re pretty much always cut really thin. If you don’t want to overcook your meat, you’ll need to do the opposite of what sounds normal: turn the heat up as high as possible. This not only creates a nice browning on the outside of the meat, but it also creates texture and allows you to get this desired colour before overcooking internally.
Place a frying pan on the highest heat you can, and wait until the oil gets ‘smoky’. Bear in mind that once you add the pork into the pan, the temperature will drop.
You’ll need to render the fat down first, and the best way of doing this is to tip the pan forward. This allows the oil and fat in the pan to gather, where you’re able to essentially ‘deep-fry’ the fatty side of the steaks.
Once you’ve adequately rendered the fat of the meat, begin step 2 (this is coming up, keep reading). At a high heat, you should only need to flip the steaks 4 times in total. Do this every 15 seconds – this will maximise the time you have to get a nice colour on the outside before the internal temperature rises too much.
If you’re not confident at winging the timings, you can alternatively use a thermometer to take an educated guess as to when to take the meat away from the heat. Depending on how well-done you like to eat your pork dictates when you will need to take the steaks out of the pan. Keep in mind that you will need to rest the meat for at least 3 minutes, and every minute the internal temperature will rise by 1°c while it continues to cook from the residual heat. If you like your pork cooked all the way through, aim for 65°c and rest the meat for 5 minutes. For medium, aim for 57°c.
Once you’ve reached the desired temperature, take the meat out of the pan and wrap it in clingfilm. This sounds gross and strange, but you’ll thank me later (probably). This keeps the steaks warm and will allow you to easily collect the resting juices for use in sauces (should you choose to).
As I had the time and ingredients to do so, I sliced some shallots to serve alongside my steaks. I prefer these to white/red onions, as they’re sweeter and make me sound like I’m posher than I actually am. They also cook quickly too – I fried these in the pan juices with a little salt.