Today’s pork is easier than ever to cook because it’s lean and tender. Follow the techniques and guidelines below for cooking your favorite cuts of pork, (like the Sausage-Stuffed Pork Roast shown here) and you’ll have perfect results every time!

Purchase before the “sell by” date on the packaging for best quality. Make sure the package is cold and has no holes or tears.

Due to breeding and feeding changes over the last 20 years, the fat content of pork has been reduced to make it a leaner product.

Some of the leanest cuts of pork are boneless loin roasts or chops, boneless sirloin roasts or chops and bone-in pork loin chops. Ounce for ounce, pork tenderloin is almost as lean as boneless skinless chicken breast.

Determine the amount of pork you need to buy based on the cut and amount of bone. Follow these guidelines:

  • 1 pound of bone-in roasts, chops or ham yields 2-1/2 to 3 servings.
  • 1 pound of boneless roasts, chops or ham yields 3 to 4 servings.
  • 1 pound of spareribs yields 1-1/4 servings.

Cooking Pork

Don’t overcook lean, fresh pork; it cooks quickly and becomes dry and tough. Pork is done at 160°. Cook large roasts to 155°, then tent with foil and allow to stand for 10-15 minutes. The internal temperature will rise to 160°. At 160°, the internal color of boneless roasts may be faint pink, and bone-in roasts may be slightly pink near the bone. The juices may have a hint of pink or be clear.

Use dry-heat cooking methods (broiling, grilling, pan-broiling, roasting and stir-frying) when a firm texture is desired for cuts of pork because, unlike beef, pork cuts vary little in tenderness. The moist-heat method of braising is used when a fork-tender texture is desired.

Roasting Fresh Pork and Ham

When roasting pork, as in Applesauce Pork Loin, place meat on a rack in a shallow roasting pan with the fat side up. Insert an oven-safe meat thermometer in the thickest portion of the muscle without touching bone or fat. Or use an instant-read thermometer toward the end of the roasting time. If the roast needs to cook longer, make sure to remove the instant-read thermometer before you return the roast to the oven.

Roast without liquid, uncovered, according to the temperature and time given in the recipe. Roasts continue to cook after being removed from the oven, so remove the meat when the meat thermometer reads 5-10° below desired doneness. Cover with foil and let stand for 10-15 minutes before carving.

Defrosting Guidelines

Plan more time for thicker packages because they take longer to defrost. Here are some guidelines for thawing pork in the refrigerator:

  • For a 1- to 1-1/2-in.-thick package of ground pork, allow at least 24 hours.
  • For 1-in.-thick chops, allow 12 to 14 hours.
  • For a small roast, allow 3 to 5 hours per pound.
  • For a large roast, allow 4 to 7 hours per pound.

Cooking Methods for Pork & Ham

Braising: Blade Chops, Boston Butt Roast, Pork Cubes

Broiling: Chops, Steaks, Ham Slices, Ground Pork Patties, Tenderloin

Grilling: Chops, Steaks, Ground Pork Patties, Pork Cubes, Ham Slices, Tenderloin

Pan-Broiling: Small Cuts—Chops, Steaks, Ham Slices, Medallions, Ground Pork Patties

Roasting: Loin Roasts, Rib Roasts, Fresh Ham or Pork Leg, Whole or Half Ham, Crown Roast, Tenderloin, Ribs