How to Buy Pork
Rachael is always looking for ways to help you stretch a buck, so she's invited back Ray the butcher to guide you through the meat aisle! He's already taught us money-saving tips for buying meat and chicken, and this time he's turning his attention to the other white meat - pork! Get all of his tips below.
Selecting the Freshest Meat
First check the date on the package to pick the freshest pork. Most stores cut it right in the store, according to Ray, giving the packages a three to four-day shelf-life. "Then you want to make sure that the meat inside the package is fresh. To do that you want to look at your pork chops, you want to look at the bones, you want to make sure they're lighter in color. The meat should have almost a wet-type shine to it. Then you look at the underside of the rib bones - they should actually be whiter and harder for you to see."
Watch out for bones that are getting dark, or any blood in the package. "It's showing this is older meat. Now this is very important for you to know because stores that do cut their own product, what you want to watch out for is what they call the re-wrap," Ray says. "They repackage it and put it back out. That's why after you've checked your date, it's important then to look at the meat and make sure the meat inside the package is fresh."
If you're shopping for boneless pork and can't use bones as a gauge, Ray suggests this trick for testing the freshness: "The stores will always cut all their pork at the same time, because they change their tables after they cut each species, so if you like boneless chops you can look at the chops with the bone - that will give you a good idea of how those boneless chops are."
Picking the Cut
Filet: "This is a great item. It is very versatile, tender, juicy, great for grilling, roasting - just about anything you want to do with it," Ray says, noting it's also often the most affordable cut of pork. "Stores love to run them on sale, very cheap. They usually come in these plastic Cryovac bags, which is another great thing because you can put it directly into your freezer without repackaging it. So it's one of those great items, take advantage of the sale!" Rachael agrees and offers some cooking tips! "You get two-in-one package and if you cut them into little pieces and pound them out they make lovely little medallions. You can make cutlets out of them, you can use them for stir frys. I could go on and on about these! I love the pork tenderloin! And it really is the other white meat, this is a very
lean source of protein."
Rib Ends: "The rib end is an everyday inexpensive cut," Ray explains. "Great for slow cooking, for roasting, for country-style spare ribs, which is much meatier than regular spare ribs so when you're feeding a lot of people it goes a lot further." He suggests using rib ends to add flavor to a tomato sauce and says this cut is "always juicy and tender."
Loin End: "This is another inexpensive cut to try and is not as fatty as the rib," he says, noting it roasts well and has a stronger flavor than a rib end.
Center Cut: "This is where everybody makes their mistake," says Ray, explaining it's best to use this in a thick cut for a classic pork chop, because a thin cut can be trickier to prepare. "They can have a tendency to be dry ... not my first choice, but use them the right way and they can be very flavorful."
Safety cooking tip: "The thinking used to be that you had to nearly overcook pork to a white or greyish color to avoid trichinosis, but that's changed," Ray says. "Because of better dietary control and better veterinary practices this is no longer a concern - so much so that the USDA has changed their guidelines from 185 degree internal temperature to 160, stating that you can now cook the pork to a nice pink blush, which is perfect for a juicy tender pork ... That means it's much easier to make a juicy piece of pork regardless of the cut!"
It's less than a week until our Season 4 Premiere! Rach hits the streets of Chicago for a Big Block Party and an end-of-summer blowout - tune in 9/14 for our biggest show ever!
- latest show clips
- celebrity friends
- cooking videos
- rachael between the scenes
- backstage pass
- tips and stories
- be on the show
- set tour
- audience tickets
- rachael's bio
- what's rach wearing
- rach on the radio
- follow us on twitter
- join us on facebook