pork steaks with sage and clementines
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Pork steaks sound a little like an oxymoron: steaks are cuts of meat you cook quickly and serve medium rare, and pork – is pork. It has to be cooked through. Sausages appear occasionally in TV adverts selling not barbecue fuel but A&E facilities – undercook them and you die. If I say ‘pink pork’, everybody will go: PINK PORK???? Whatever next: chicken tartare maybe?
It all comes from the worry of trichinosis and salmonella. But both are very low risk these days in UK due to improved standards of hygiene; in fact Trichinosis is a vanishingly rare disease, with fewer than a dozen cases a year in the US. On top of that, bacteria and parasites alike are killed in temperature as low as 55C/130F. And although I admit rare chicken is simply not tasty, it is time indeed that the old habit of incinerating pork died easier.
It is very much like the sell-by dates area: better-safe-than-sorry health authorities on both sides of the Atlantic have been overstating the recommended cooking temperatures and the risks. Pork steaks, chops or bigger cuts can safely be served pinkish in the middle – even I’m not propagating porc bleu – and be all the better for it. Similarly to lamb and beef, it can be cooked slow and forever and come out tasting wonderful – or cooked not very long at all, ditto.
This recipe is for shoulder steaks, my favourite cut. Loin is too lean, flavourless and boring; it’s best fit to be turned into lonzino; sliced thinly and savoured on a charcuterie platter. Shoulder has fatty bits, so for those who spend their lives cutting off fat, it’s a bit of a challenge – but worth all the knife manoeuvres. Shoulder steaks are also unruly – you need to tie them round with kitchen string and they’ll still buckle on the griddle. Hard to cook, controversial and a brush with death – who says pork is not exciting?
- For 2 people:
- 2 pork shoulder or loin steaks
- salt and pepper
- fresh sage leaves stripped from a bunch
- 1 tbsp. butter
- 3-4 clementines or satsumas
- 2 tbsp. maple syrup
- oil for brushing steaks
Shoulder steaks will be tastier but loin chops will do as well. This recipe aims at cooking the steaks with a slight pink tinge inside - which is perfectly safe but if you’re worried, cook them a minute longer on each side.
Whether loin or shoulder, trim the bone/rind and most of the fat. Shoulder steaks will cook easier if they are tied around with kitchen string to keep shape. Rub them generously with salt and black pepper and brush with a little oil.
Peel the clementines or trim the skin and pith with a knife, like this. Slice two of them - you’ll need two or three neat slices for each steak. Juice the trimmings and the remaining clementines.
Heat the butter in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Fry the sage leaves for a minute until crisp, then remove onto a paper towel. Cook the clementine slices in the same skillet on both sides until slightly caramelised. Remove them from the skillet and keep warm. Add the juice and the maple syrup to the pan and cook down until it thickens, for 3 or 4 minutes.
Heat a heavy frying pan or a griddle until almost smoking. Turn the heat down a little and cook the pork steaks for 5 minutes on each side. Transfer them to a warm plate, remove the string and rest them for 5-8 minutes.
To serve, top the steaks with the sage leaves, a couple of clementine slices and drizzle with the orange sauce.