Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Pork, the New Pink

The USDA has finally realized that whole muscle pork meat is safe at temperatures much lower than those previously reported. From a very well done 160 degrees down to an acceptable 145 with a three minute rest. I can eat this.

This new guideline defies the tenets of Central Pennsylvainia pork chop cookery. Pork chops, the thin ones on sale at Riverside Market, are seasoned, floured, and fried, well, on two sides until the juices run clear. Grandma shingles them into her Pyrex dish and covers them with a can of Campbell's Cream of Mushroom soup. She pops this in her oven and lets it braise until bubbly. Mmm. I remember this meal being served with unseasoned canned green beans (that actually tasted good with the pork chop/mushroom soup "gravy") and steamed rice. Chew chew.

Grilled pork chops, another delicious dish. Unseasoned, unoiled, and sometimes undefrosted, the chops land on the screaming hot grill. They cook until bowing off the grill. By this point the chops are cooked pretty much through. We turn 'em now, allowing the second side to cook. Now exhausted, bowed into bowls from the tension of the silverskin, holding the last drops of desperate final juices, the chops are allowed to cook "the rest of the way". Luckily for all of us, grilled pork chops necessitate runny macaroni (not pasta) salad. Miracle Whip replaces the juices and flavor lost to fear.

Trichinosis nearly eradicated, incidence of bacteria inside whole muscle meat gone, the USDA awakens from its torpor to proclaim it safe to properly cook the muscle from the top of the pig. I imagine the joy at this news in Punxatawney.

"Mom, you mean we can have pork chops that don't suck the saliva out of our cheeks?"

A new day for America.

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