A few days before Thanksgiving, we add the Butterball hotline number to our speed dial. We’ve never used it, but knowing that someone is on call to help with whatever turkey crisis we’re in is a comfort. We feel the same way about the Pork Board Web site (www.theotherwhitemeat.com). Although we’ve never run into trouble with pork chops or tenderloins and learned years ago that one of the best ways to fix pork is to braise it with apple cider and fresh vegetables, it always helps to have an expert standing by.
As it turns out, the questions the Pork Board gets asked most often are about food safety and overcooking. Most people know to wash their hands before cooking and not use the same plate for uncooked and cooked meat, but in a sign of the times when everyone is a frugal cook, people ask if it’s safe to cook pork that’s been sitting on the counter overnight. Absolutely not! About overcooking, the Board recommends taking pork off the heat or out of the oven when its temperature is 150F. It will continue to rise to the USDA recommended 160F.
Finally, for help choosing pork, we spoke to Dr. David Meisinger, a meat science expert at Iowa State University. Look for reddish-pink, he said, as it has the best flavor and is the juiciest. “The other white meat,” it turns out, refers to pork after it’s cooked.
—By Jean Kressy, a food writer in Ashburnham, Mass.