Cottage Q&A: Grilling pork

A tray of grilled pork chops on a picnic table By Food Via Lenses/Shutterstock

Is it safe to eat grilled pork when it’s still pink?—Ann Shannon, via email

Yes. In fact, nowadays it’s encouraged. “To me, a perfectly cooked tenderloin looks like it has a slight blush to it,” says Stacey Ash of Ontario Pork. Pink pork fear is a holdover from the days when people more commonly became sick with trichinosis, an infection caused by ingesting the parasite Trichinella, a species of roundworm that can live in the muscle tissue of domestic pigs. “But it’s not something that we see often anymore,” says Ash. “Today, animals are raised in a cleaner environment.”

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If your grilled pork is grey inside, or if it “squeaks when you cut it,” it’s overcooked, says Michael Allemeier, a certified master chef and a culinary educator with the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology. But you don’t want it to be red, either. “Undercooked pork tends to be tough. It needs to have reached a high enough temperature that the fat in the meat will have loosened,” he says.

Health Canada recommends that you cook pork to 160°F. To achieve this, take the meat off the grill when it reaches 155°F, then let it rest for 10 minutes. This should produce meat with a hint of pink. To help ensure juiciness, Allemeier recommends brining for 20 to 30 minutes first. “I call it my 10 per cent brine: for every litre of water, add 100 grams of kosher salt. Then you can introduce other flavours: fresh herbs, fennel seeds, or a few cloves of crushed garlic.”

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A lot of folks in the food industry, including Ash and Allemeier, feel that for pork chops, tenderloin, and roasts, 160°F is unnecessarily high. “We would like to see the temperature go down,” says Ash. “But for now we respect Health Canada’s guidelines.”

The U.S. began recommending a cooked pork temperature of only 145°F (plus three minutes of resting) in 2011. So, hey, Americans might have expensive health care, but at least they get more freedom when it comes to their pork.

This article was originally published in the Summer 2018 issue of Cottage Life magazine.

Got a question for Cottage Q&A? Send it to answers@cottagelife.com.


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