I’m going to sing praise of pork today. I’m lobbying for pork. Pork is the new chicken. Pork – the underdog of meats.
I’ll stop the silly slogans now and get serious. The myth that pork is fatty and awfully unhealthy should be knocked on the head because it’s all porkies.
I’ll concede that bacon is not uppermost on the health scale, although nutritionists agree that a balanced diet, with all kinds of foods in moderation is ideal – which means an occasional rasher is definitely not going to give you a heart attack, especially if you balance it with a generous slice of tomato and eat it in a wholemeal slice.
But lean cuts of pork from best-quality, outdoor-reared animals match chicken in low saturated fat content. In fact, pigs are now 44% leaner than they were in 1970s. While the humans…
The same principles should guide you for buying pork as they should when shopping for chicken. If it’s free range or organic, it will serve you well even if its price will not. But that’s the way to go: eat less meat on the whole, and when you do eat it, make sure it’s the best quality.
All this ‘red meat bad, white meat good’ malarkey is thoroughly misleading. Red meat, when organic and grass-fed, constitutes the most complete protein, with all the essential amino acids that we need to get from food. It is also the best source of iron, vitamin B and zinc.
This is not the picture if most meat in your diet comes from water-pumped, antibiotic-fed battery chickens, however white their white meat might be! It's the sense of proportion that we totally lose when reading disjointed, mostly observational research study results. You're much better off eating good quality red meat occasionally, than subsist on rubbish chicken.
Pork deserves more attention. Look at the Italians whom we uncritically laud for their healthy Mediterranean diet. Porchetta, the whole (or a substantial part of) roast pig stuffed with herbs and roasted to be enjoyed in bruschettas! Lardo, pure pork back fat, cured and thinly sliced! Salami, nduja, prosciutto di Parma or otherwise! The list is long and very piggy.
You could have a go at porchetta with my easy recipe, featuring only a collar of pork. Or you could make braciolas, another porky Italian dish, meltingly tender in tomato sauce.
Pork fillet a.k.a. tenderloin is lean and unbelievably easy to cook. Try turning it into a pork version of stroganoff for an impressive dish, or go for twice cooked pork fillet. It can also serve in endless stir fries, making them much less boring than those with chicken.
Pork loin can be roasted whole and it’s so lean I cook it at low temperature, so as not to dry it out. With blueberry sauce it’s irresistible. And sliced into medallions it makes Japanese style katsu or German schnitzels.
Shoulder is a cheaper cut that makes excellent steaks, pork belly speaks for itself and so do ribs and gammon hock. Even minced pork can make an epic meal: check out ‘ants climbing trees’ and meatballs.
And for dessert grill a few rashers of glazed brown sugar bacon and enjoy – responsibly!