Tips: Cooking Pork Loin

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.

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Make sure you season before cooking. It looks tasty and sets the mood.

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.

 

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If I set the heat any higher, my hob will explode.

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.

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Exhibit A

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.

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First flip; the beginning of colour (the name of my upcoming album).

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.

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Pro tip: don’t attempt to take a picture of a thermometer whilst the food is still in the pan.

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).

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Disgusting.

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.

 

Creamy Pasta with Chicken and Bacon

Do you like bacon? Cool.

You will need to buy or scavenge (Serves 4):

  • 250g Chicken Breast
  • 150g Smoked Bacon (back or streaky, your preference)
  • 375g Fusilli Pasta
  • 300g Double Cream
  • 1 Small White Onion
  • 200g Chestnut Mushrooms
  • 2 Cloves of Garlic
  • 60ml White Wine
  • 1 tsp Parsley (preferably fresh)

 

First things first, I should say that the above recipe is to only be used as a guide. This is a somewhat obvious statement, but I should let you know that most (all) chefs don’t weigh out ingredients for recipes like this one. You’ll see from the pictures below that I used slightly different ingredient amounts because I only need to cook for 2 people – you may need to adjust to suit your household.

Prepped Onions
Start by preparing all of the ingredients before you start cooking. As with most pasta dishes, you can get everything cooked in less time than it would take most people to chop vegetables.

Stick a pan of salted water on a high heat (you’ll need it at boiling point, so start this early on). You’ll then need to finely dice the onions, mushrooms, and garlic. If you can’t be bothered to chop the garlic, you can instead use a cheese grater to achieve a similar size. Stack the rashers of bacon on top of each other, cut into long, thin strips and finely dice this too. Back bacon would be better to use as there’s less fat to trim (I used leftover streaky bacon, so don’t judge). I’m not going to describe how to cut chicken, I hope you can figure this out on your own.

Place a large saucepan on a high heat, drizzle a little oil in the pan and wait. Once it starts to ‘smoke’, add your bacon in and cook until the fat renders down. Add in your chopped veg and meat then continue cooking until everything is adequately cooked through.

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Normally you would need to brown off your chicken, but as it’s cut small there’s no need to waste time on this step.

Once you’ve brought the pan of water up to boiling point, add in the dried pasta and cook per instruction on the pack, minus 2 minutes. Once the pasta is ready to come off the heat, run cold water over it to stop it from overcooking. Drain the pasta through a colander and reserve until you need it later on.

The next step is to deglaze the pan with the white wine. I went with a cheap Pinot Grigio that I bought from Sainsbury’s about 5 months ago – you wouldn’t be able to tell. Don’t get roped into buying expensive wines to cook with, the difference in quality is negligible after the alcohol is cooked out. Once the liquor has reduced, you’ll need to add in most of your cream. It’s worth reserving some in the event that your sauce ends up too thick, just add in extra if this is the case – it’s a lot easier to add than it is to take away.

Add in your parsley, and season with salt and a touch of black pepper if you wish. I used dried parsley for convenience’ sake, although fresh is always better. It’s worth noting that your cream sauce will become thicker once you add in the pasta because of the starch content, so keep it looser than you think you’ll need it at this stage.

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Note: If I find you sprinkling chopped parsley around the plate for decorative purposes, I will hunt you down.

To finish off, you’ll need to add your (now cooled) pasta into your sauce. Remember that it’s currently al dente, so you’ll need to reheat it for a couple of minutes to finish off the cooking process. Check your seasoning and make sure the pasta is cooked, then serve.

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Congratulations, you made a thing.

The Idea

Hello theoretical audience. I feel like an initial blog is something I don’t really need, but this site made it look like I needed to write one – so here it is. I suppose it could be useful to give anyone who may be reading this a little bit of a backstory into why this page now exists.

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Note: This was the first dessert I ever created for a restaurant. First blog post, first dessert?

Reason Number 1: Boredom

I used to be a chef and I like to eat and cook. That sentence couldn’t have been more boring if I tried, but long story short, that is the biggest reason for why I’ve decided to write about food. My plan is to update this blog every now and then with pictures of food, recipes of my own, and give some tips and techniques that I’ve learnt from my time in the industry.

I was going to write more reasons, but really that’s the gist of it. This isn’t going to be another food blog that you see online that takes itself incredibly seriously, I’m not about that. Cooking is relatively straightforward when you understand the basics and my hope is to maybe help some readers think the same way a chef does.