Food

Cook the Best Pork of Your Life

Nail the perfect pork dish with these techniques.
IMAGE Jason Quibilan
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When we think of pigs, there are two aspects that come to mind: the first is the pink animal that is lazy, fat, smelly, and rolls around in its own feces—qualities that invite frequent comparisons to certain government officials, rolling in their own pigsty of lies—and the other is the delicious, delicious meat that most of our country survives on. Interesting imagery to digest, isn’t it? 

A quick search for “pork” on Google used to give us succulent recipes, cooking techniques, and articles on much-loved local delicacies; currently, we need to sift through financial scandals before getting to the real swine. Island, Judaism, and even Christianity (of course, this is widely ignored locally) may prohibit the consumption of pork, but that doesn’t seem to deter even the most faithful of us, so if you are going to go against the word of the gods under my watch, might as well do it right.

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Pork Chops

  • Go for bone-in chops about 2 inches thick.
  • Start by brining the pork for at least 30 minutes to overnight. Basic brine: cover in water, a big pinch of salt, pepper, garlic, lemon juice, and herbs.
  • Use a cast-iron pan and get it hot first by putting it in your oven. Heat your oven to full whack.
  • Take the chop out of the brine. Pat dry. Season with salt and pepper then rub with olive oil. When the pan is hot, take it out and put it on the stove on medium.
  • Sear the chop 4 minutes on each side. Flip the chop and transfer pan to the oven. Reduce your oven temperature to about 250° Fahrenheit and let your pork get to an internal temperature of 140° Fahrenheit. This should take about 7 minutes.
  • Rest on a plate covered in foil for 5 minutes before serving. Add thyme to the juices in cast iron skillet. Add a small amount of chicken stock to deglaze for a quick sauce.
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Pork Stews

  • The best cut for stews are spare ribs, loin, chump end, belly, and leg

Ribs 

  • Avoid thawed ribs.
  • Remove the thin membrane at the back of the ribs.
  • The meat should give when bent a little.
  • Always let the ribs come up to room temperature before eating them.
  • Indirect grilling is the best cooking method.
  • Sugar will burn. Make sure your rub or sauce doesn’t have too much sugar in it.
  • Choose real smoke over liquid smoke.
  • Wrap your ribs in foil after smoking them and continue cooking for another hour.
  • Ribs should not fall off the bone when done.
  • Have a finishing rub or sauce for extra flavor and bonus points.

 

Crispy Pork Belly

  • A Filipino favorite and is actually really easy to do. Take a big bone-in pork belly and rub with coarse salt. Leave it in the fridge overnight to dry it out.
  • The next day, rub it with mixture of olive oil, salt, pepper. Score the skin lightly and rub with fresh thyme.
  • Place on a rack (with a catch underneath) and cook at 150° Celsius for about 4 hours. Bring up to 180° Celsius and leave for an additional 30 minutes.
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Crackling 

  • Score the meat. Then salt. Let rest for 2 hours in the fridge. Take out of the fridge and blow dry. Massage with salt. Pat dry. Anoint with hot fat. Place in oven.
  • Perfect temperature is usually 4 hours at 150° Celsius, 30 minutes at 170° Celsius or 180° Celsius.

This article originally appeared in the July 2014 issue of Esquire Philippines. Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.

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Erwan Heussaff
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