Preparing Pork For Cooking

 

The correct preparation of pork is a very important part of a cook's repertoire, because so much of the pig is suitable for cooking and the range of pork dishes is vast. The techniques shown here include boning, stuffing and rolling a whole pork loin, cutting pockets in chops, and preparing and stuffing tenderloins.

BONING A LOIN

Although most butchers will bone a loin of pork if asked, you can easily do the job yourself with a boning knife. Remove any skin and trim the excess fat before boning, stuffing, rolling and roasting.

1. Holding the loin, cut between the ribs; do not cut the meat deeper than the thickness of the ribs.

2. Cut down behind the ribs using a cleaver, cleaning as much meat off the bones as possible.

3. Work the knife around and under the chine bone, lifting it away from the meat as you cut.

4. Open the loin out flat and then cut two lengthwise slits through the meat, taking care not to cut right through. Insert stuffing.

5. Roll up the loin, starting at one of the long sides, and tie securely with kitchen string. The joint is now ready for cooking.

STUFFINGS FOR A BONED LOIN

• Fresh sage leaves and whole dried apricots soaked in a little white wine.

• Diced apple, onion and fresh breadcrumbs moistened with cider vinegar.

• Snipped bacon, plump raisins and cooked rice seasoned with black pepper and chopped fresh parsley.

TUNNEL STUFFING

This simple technique makes a pocket in a boned and rolled loin of pork. It saves having to untie and reroll the joint.

Insert the tip of a small knife into the eye of the loin and work to make a tunnel right through. Spoon stuffing into tunnel.

STUFFING PORK CHOPS

By making a single horizontal cut in a pork chop you can create a pocket to contain a stuffing. This adds flavour and helps make the meat go further, as well as basting the meat on the inside during cooking and making it moist. The most suitable chops for this technique are those cut from the loin. They can be pan-fried or grilled, or braised in the oven.

1. Insert a boning knife in the fatty side of the chop and work it horizontally to the bone to make a pocket.

2. Spoon the stuffing into the pocket and press the edges firmly together.

STUFFINGS FOR CHOPS

• Chopped spinach seasoned with freshly grated nutmeg or tossed with chopped Parma ham.

• Shredded rocket and snipped sun-dried tomatoes.

• Roughly chopped prunes and chestnuts with finely grated orange zest.

• Spoonfuls of fruit chutney

• Chopped roasted peppers and crushed garlic.

PREPARING A TENDERLOIN

Boneless lean tenderloin, also called pork fillet, requires very little in the way of preparation. The tendon and sinew are chewy, so they must be cut away before cooking. A whole tenderloin can be roasted or braised, with or without a stuffing or it can be cut into noisettes for grilling and pan-frying, or strips for stir-frying.

1. Carefully pull any fat and membrane away from the tenderloin. Discard the fat and membrane.

2. Cut just underneath the tendon and sinew with a boning knife, pulling it away from the flesh.

MAKING NOISETTES

Cut the tenderloin diagonally into 1-2 cm thick slices, using a chef's knife.

STUFFING TENDERLOINS

There are several ways in which pork tenderloins can be stuffed. The first shown here splits a whole tenderloin so that it can be opened out, flattened slightly, stuffed and reshaped; the second goes one step further and ties two split tenderloins together around a stuffing to make a larger, more substantial joint. Both can be roasted or braised as they are, or wrapped in streaky bacon before tying.

1. Cut the tenderloin lengthwise two-thirds of the way through with a chef's knife. Open out and pound gently to flatten.

2. Spread stuffing of your choice along the centre of the tenderloin and roll it up lengthwise to enclose the stuffing. Tie with kitchen string.

STUFFING TWO TENDERLOINS

Split and flatten two tenderloins, following step 1. Sandwich together around a stuffing, then tie to secure.