For years pork has been referred to as “the other white meat” largely because it was a food that was always cooked to well-done creating the white color. Although many chefs and food critics preferred the meat less done, many were still concerned with under cooking the meat out of the fear of trichinosis. Luckily, practices of raising pork have been improved so that fear is now simply a myth many find very difficult to stray from.
If you’re a pork fan, you’ve likely been plagued with overcooked pork for so long that you can’t remember the last time you had a moist piece of meat. Before deciding what temperature to cook your pork, you first have to decide why type of pork you’re cooking and how you’ll be cooking it.
If you’re roasting your pork it’s most common to cook it at 350◦ uncovered in a shallow pan. Cook meat to approx. 140◦ and allow to rest for three minutes.
When on the grill, cooking the meat over medium heat is fairly common (285◦). Again the size and cut of pork will dictate the temperature and duration of cooking. Loins typically cook in 20 minutes per pound with larger shoulders cooking 45 minutes for every pound of meat. Again cook until approximately 145◦ internally unless preferred more pink.
When braising pork it’s not uncommon for pork to be cooked at lower temperatures. After searing, place the pork in your desired liquid and cover until the liquid comes to a simmer. At lower temperatures you’ll have to cook the pork longer. For fattier cuts like ribs and shoulders it’s not uncommon to cook for several hours at this simmering temperature. For pork cooked over such a long period of time it’s not uncommon for the internal temperature to be over 145◦ simply because fattier cuts require higher temps or longer cooking periods.
Regardless of how you’re cooking pork the common safe cooking temperature is approximately 145◦ with fattier cuts being higher. Whatever you do, don’t ruin a perfect cut of pork by overcooking it. When cooked correctly pork is a wonderful, juicy meal. Cook it lower, you won’t be disappointed.