Sourcing for serving raw pork is extremely important...
May 23, 2016 8:04 AM   Subscribe

When I lived in Germany I ate Mett sandwiches a few times before I realised it was raw pork mince. It was pretty good! But once I knew, it kind of freaked me out.
posted by lollusc at 8:18 AM on May 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I regularly eat Zwiebelmettbrötchen for breakfast. They're great, and it's fun freaking people out back home by telling them I eat pig sushi.
posted by brokkr at 8:21 AM on May 23, 2016

Nobody eats raw pork. Trichinosis is extremely rare in the US. These two facts are surely unrelated.
posted by dilaudid at 8:24 AM on May 23, 2016 [6 favorites]

Trichinosis is very rare in Germany too - 14 cases in 2013, 1 in 2014.
posted by brokkr at 8:29 AM on May 23, 2016 [3 favorites]

Hooray for Chris Cosentino. I live just down the service from his now-closed Incanto restaurant where the food was great but the service was not. But boy that man knows how to cure some pork. And serve it raw apparently, too. I also still remember a wonderful double-thick medium rare pork chop I ate once in Boston in the 1990s. So juicy and full of flavor.

The biggest problem with American pork is the stuff has zero fat in it. Our ridiculous, unscientific fetish for low fat has resulted in pork and chicken that is dry and flavorless. Cosentino talks about intramuscular fat in pork and I'm like "where is he buying his pork?!". At least American beef is still good.
posted by Nelson at 8:30 AM on May 23, 2016 [6 favorites]

I remember my first "fine dining" experience, for values of "fine dining" equal to Emeril's of Orlando. They asked me how I wanted my pork chop cooked. This was insane to me, but I think I choked out "Medium."

And that was a damn good pork chop.

I still tend to cook my pork well done, if just because:
a) habits are hard to break
b) most grocery store pork is pretty thin, and for rare meat, you want a nice thick chunk of it
posted by SansPoint at 8:33 AM on May 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

My grandfather used to eat enjoy bacon, cut right off the slab with his pocket knife. In the 1950s. A pioneer!
posted by beagle at 8:43 AM on May 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

I had porked cooked (medium?) rare once, in Barcelona with a wonderful fruity sauce and a very simply seasoned salad and plain rice. It was divine. That said, when I cook it myself, I still go for well done because I just don't think I'm a confident enough cook to serve it that way to others. But damn, that was good pork.
posted by like_neon at 8:46 AM on May 23, 2016

The first and possibly best thing I did with my immersion circulator was buy the thickest pork chop I could find and do it medium rare. It's a different thing than just serving it pink, but it was so juicy and good.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 8:48 AM on May 23, 2016 [6 favorites]

I have been cooking pork chops to medium (just ever-so-slightly pink) for at least 10 years, and probably longer. Too rare and I find the texture not to my liking. It's a little mushy. Every once in a while I'll find a restaurant that will listen to me about not cooking it to death.
posted by briank at 9:15 AM on May 23, 2016

Worry about trichinosis in game meat (esp bear, and I assume also feral pigs). Stop cooking commercial pork like your parents did; their pork chops sucked.
posted by ryanrs at 9:18 AM on May 23, 2016 [8 favorites]

(we could also do an interesting derail about how modern commercial pork breeds don't have enough marbling)
posted by ryanrs at 9:20 AM on May 23, 2016 [3 favorites]

My grandfather used to eat enjoy bacon, cut right off the slab with his pocket knife. In the 1950s. A pioneer!

Pretty much the opposite! Bacon is already cooked. For much of history, it was reasonably safe to eat a slice off the slab and I'm sure people did so. I wouldn't do that with the slimy stuff that comes vacuum packed from the grocery store. So your grandfather was more of a traditionalist.
posted by ssg at 9:23 AM on May 23, 2016 [3 favorites]

I had (intentionally) raw pork on an airline once. It was on a JAL flight to Tokyo and it was presented like sashimi. It was aiight I guess. I'm still alive.
posted by cman at 9:57 AM on May 23, 2016

dilaudid: "Nobody eats raw pork. Trichinosis is extremely rare in the US. These two facts are surely unrelated."

"Correlation does not imply causation."

From TFA: Trichinosis is a disease caused by roundworms of the Trichinella genus. It is horrible and repulsive, if not usually fatal; this is a worm we're talking about, after all. But it is also incredibly uncommon in this country. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found only 84 confirmed cases in the five inclusive years between 2008 and 2012—none fatal—and, interestingly, only 22 of those could be traced to pork. (Game seems to be much more affected by trichinosis than pork, so you may want to think twice before digging into a bear-meat tartare.)
posted by chavenet at 10:08 AM on May 23, 2016

All my pork comes from feral hog, so I roast it with garlic, celery, etc at 240 degrees all night long. It comes out, fall of the bones juicy, and well done. Never had trichinosis, or leftovers.
posted by ridgerunner at 10:26 AM on May 23, 2016 [9 favorites]

I am ALL ABOUT eating not-tough pork.

Medium rare it up, baby!
posted by rebent at 10:47 AM on May 23, 2016

ESPECIALLY because of the price difference between a beef steak and a pork steak. With the same spices, they don't taste that different.
posted by rebent at 10:48 AM on May 23, 2016 [2 favorites]

Oh man, I do medium-rare herb marinated pork loin in the sous vide all the time. It's divine. So juicy.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 10:53 AM on May 23, 2016

I've had undercooked pork -- what some call "medium rare" -- and the texture just turns me off. Raw beef can be tender and juicy; raw pork is just chewy and not in a pleasant way.
I prefer to slowcook my pork until it falls right off the bone. Stick it under the broiler for the last five minutes for a nice crust.

(The only bacon I eat uncooked is Nueske's. I would never consider doing that with the slimy vacuum-sealed stuff from the supermarket.)
posted by monospace at 11:32 AM on May 23, 2016

I had (intentionally) raw pork on an airline once. It was on a JAL flight to Tokyo and it was presented like sashimi. It was aiight I guess. I'm still alive

I've had a lot of raw meats in Japan (seafood obviously, but also horse and chicken and I think some other stuff), but I still don't think I'm brave enough to have raw meat on a plane.
posted by thefoxgod at 12:07 PM on May 23, 2016

ssg: "Bacon is already cooked."

Pre-cooked bacon is awful, terrible stuff that generally comes in yellow boxes at the supermarket now. In 1950, bacon didn't come already cooked. It came the way many pork products come, particularly in the Mediterranean: cured, which is to say dried slowly and carefully. Curing is similar to cooking in some ways, but in the context of this conversation it's probably worth pointing out that it's basically just leaving it lying around for a while. If you're going to eat raw pork, it's apparently a good idea to leave it sitting out for a few months first.
posted by koeselitz at 3:49 PM on May 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

I tried cooking pork chops "four minutes on each side" as per this recipe after seeing the judges on things like Masterchef start to make a point of saying "with a touch of pink, as it should be" when some hopeful would bring a pork dish up. Easily the best pork chops I've ever had.
posted by lucidium at 4:10 PM on May 23, 2016

I like thin pork chops cooked really well done, probably because that is what I loved when I was a kid. But I always cook thicker ones to around medium or medium rare, still pink in the middle but not raw at all.

I'd happily eat pork tartare if I had a source I really trusted, but for grocery store meat I'm at least going to cook the outside well.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:29 PM on May 23, 2016

Pre-cooked bacon is awful, terrible stuff that generally comes in yellow boxes at the supermarket now. In 1950, bacon didn't come already cooked.

Bacon is cooked as in hot smoked, not pre-cooked like in the grocery store. Bacon in 1950 was definitely hot smoked.

There is also unsmoked bacon which is just dry cured (pancetta), but that it isn't clear that this was ever the dominant form of curing pork bellies (people have been sticking things in their chimneys to smoke them for a very long time). Maybe centuries ago, but certainly not in 1950.
posted by ssg at 7:09 PM on May 23, 2016 [2 favorites]

Not to mention that grocery-store bacon is actually injected with liquid smoke and then just roasted, not actually smoked at all.
posted by ssg at 7:13 PM on May 23, 2016 [2 favorites]

Considering that I managed to drink enough to give raw chicken a second try last night,* I honestly think I would give pork sashimi a try.

*It was delicious, with a texture that was so, so good, and a beautiful, vibrant taste of chicken, which seems like an impossibility, because chicken is the go to for bland and inoffensive. I didn't, however, have enough beer in me to try the raw liver or raw heart. Limits and all.
posted by Ghidorah at 7:25 PM on May 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

Is hot smoking really like cooking? Anyway, good info, ssg- thanks.
posted by koeselitz at 8:40 PM on May 23, 2016

Hot smoking is cooking. Granted, it's achieved at a low heat (which is why it's common to add sodium nitrite for safety, as botulism can thrive at in the hot smoke temp range and low oxygen environment), over a long time, but at the end of a hot smoke, meat is cooked and safe to eat.

Just as an example, the bacon I make, I smoke it at temps between 80-100C, or about 170-210F, and it usually takes about 3-4 hours to get the belly up to an internal temp of 65C/145F which is considered "done" for pork (sausage is usually smoked to 68C, but that's a bit different than whole muscle meat).

The low heat and length of time ensures getting a good, solid infusing of the smoke, and also prevents the fat from rendering out completely. Pork fat tends to render (become liquid) near 75-80C. Roasting cured pork belly at a high temperature (like 180C/350F) would result in a big puddle of oil and the saddest bacon ever.

Hot smoked bacon, though, is safe to eat as is. Bacon fresh off the smoker (for QC purposes, of course) is a thing of beauty, and a joy forever.
posted by Ghidorah at 10:09 PM on May 23, 2016 [4 favorites]

Just as a sort of follow up, there is cold smoked bacon out there, and it must be fried to eat. Cold smoking is a very different process than hot smoking, though temperature control is vital to both of them. The goal of cold smoking is to keep the ambient temperature of the smoking chamber as low as possible. I tend to fill the water pans with ice and generate smoke with the smallest possible amount of charcoal I can manage. This is how you get smoked cheese, smoked salmon (like lox and such) and assorted other delicious things.

Cold smoked bacon, which I've never made, is a whole several day long process. Usually it's smoked for eight to ten hours, returned to a refrigerator and allowed to rest overnight, then smoked/rested at least twice more over three days. Again, when it's done, it still needs to be pan fried, though I've heard the flavor of cold smoked bacon is far amazing.
posted by Ghidorah at 10:38 PM on May 23, 2016 [2 favorites]

(Thanks for the info! As a note, I wasn't asking if hot smoked meat is safe to eat. Plenty of uncooked meat is safe to eat - especially dry cured meats. I know we Americans have a weird phobia about cured meats, such that "uncooked" bacon is avoided, but it's perfectly safe. I just thought the stuff was cured, not brought up to any temperature at all. You learn something every day, I guess!)
posted by koeselitz at 11:07 PM on May 24, 2016

Glad I could help. I wish I had the equipment for dry curing, but the climate here outside Tokyo is exactly wrong all year long, though in different ways at different times of year. The only way I'll ever manage that is a repurposed fridge or wine cellar, and that involves wiring and tracking humidity and all sorts of bother, though the end result would definitely be worth it. Someday.
posted by Ghidorah at 3:31 AM on May 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

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