Fall into Pork Month
By Stacey Sorlien
The leaves are working on changing colors, and harvest is in full swing. The month of October is not only great for beautiful colors, tailgates and trick-or-treating, but it is a great opportunity for South Dakota pig farmers to showcase their amazing product during October, which is Pork Month.
Looking for a healthy protein source that offers lots of flavor and a variety of cooking methods? You’ll find some great options with pork — whether you’re making a family dinner, grilling in the backyard or planning the perfect holiday meal.
Many consumers are in search of knowledge about the different cuts of pork. This year, there has been a makeover at the meat case with new pork cut names. In order to ease confusion over the various names of pork cuts, the National Pork Board and The Beef Checkoff program joined forces to make the meat case more familiar for shoppers. Several pork chop names are now aligned with beef steaks, so consumers can easily identify their favorite cuts.
Consumers will now find ribeye pork chop bone-in or boneless instead of the rib chop, along with the porterhouse pork chop and New York pork chop.
Not only are consumers looking for the perfect cut, but they have several questions on meat preparation.
So often you hear from a consumer that they feel pork is dry and tough, which is a result of being overcooked. But there is good news. You can have a delicious, juicy, great-tasting pork experience if you follow the current FDA guidelines, which recommend cooking fresh pork to 145 degrees Fahrenheit with a three-minute rest period.
Cooking to medium doneness for chops, tenderloins and roasts means just a blush of pink in the center. Cooking low and slow for ribs, loins and pork shoulder for classic fall-off-the-bone ribs and perfect pulled pork is a must.
Pork is so versatile, it works with many flavors. No matter what time of the year it is, it is easy to adapt sauces, rubs and marinades to create a dynamic meal that will turn “blah” into “ahh!” Over the last 30 years, pork has become leaner and contains less saturated fat. Cuts of pork that come from the loin such as chops and roasts are the leanest cuts of pork; pork tenderloin, the healthiest cut of pork, ounce for ounce, it is just as lean as a skinless chicken breast.
Pork has received the American Heart Association’s Heart Healthy Checkmark, which means it can be marked and promoted as a heart-healthy product. Pork packs nutrients in every lean serving and is an excellent source of protein and a good source of thiamin, vitamin B6, phosphorus and niacin, potassium, riboflavin and zinc.
— Stacey Sorlien is the program and communications