Rooted In History
Many of us were raised with the warning to cook all pork to “well done” to avoid illness. Historically this was sage advice, as pork production was less advanced than the industry we know today and incidents of trichinosis infected meat were all too common. To avoid this unpleasantry, everyone began to cook all pork products to completely done.
How Should You Cook Pork?
This question is much easier to answer than many would expect. If you are preparing muscle cuts such as loin or chops you should cook to an internal temperature of 145°F, whereas with ground pork you should cook until the meat reaches a temperature of 160°F. In the case of muscle cuts, the range of 145°F to 150°F will yield a medium rare cook, which is completely safe despite the fears of the past and is perfectly juicy! If a further cook is preferred, you can continue until the internal temperature reaches up to 160°F before you are in danger of overcooked and tough meat.
The Finer Points
How do you tell the temperature of cooking meat? Assessing doneness by time measurement is not a true reading, as cuts vary. The safest way is to utilize a meat thermometer, of which there are two varieties: analog and digital. While both options work well, the digital thermometer proves to be most accurate. To measure temperature, simply insert into the thickest part of the meat without touching bone. If the cut is under ¾ inch in thickness, test through the side of the meat.
The takeaway here: try something new with your pork! Gone are the days when you must cook your meat til it is almost a paperweight. Find a quality cut of pork and try it for your next home-cooked meal!