(NC) - The love affair between pork and the grill is as old as cooking itself. Grilling pork is relatively straightforward and requires no special skills. But different pork cuts - chops, tenderloin, roasts, and ground pork - all need slightly different approaches.
Chops and Steaks:
Season with a marinade or rub, as desired. Brush on sauce, if using, when meat is nearly cooked; this will prevent sauce from burning.
Use a medium heat; a fierce heat will tend to toughen the meat and dry it out.
Turn the meat as seldom as possible, without charring or burning it. A handy guide to knowing when to turn the meat is to watch for small droplets of moisture appearing on the meat surface.
Touch the centre of the chop with tongs or your finger. If it's perfectly done, there should be a slight "give". If in doubt, make a small incision into the meat; if there is still a touch of pinkness, it's time to take the meat off the grill and let it rest a few minutes - the meat will continue cooking as the heat equalizes.
Do not overcook pork; for grilling cuts about 3/4 - inches thick, grill on medium for about 2 minutes, turn 90 degrees, and grill for an additional 2 minutes; repeat for other side. Total grilling time should be between 6-8 minutes.
Thicker chops will, of course, take longer; thicker chops - 1 1/2 to 2-inches thick - use a meat thermometer to ensure perfect doneness.
Tenderloin, as the name implies, is very tender, but it is not the most flavourful pork cut. Be bold when seasoning.
Tenderloin can be grilled over high heat; turn frequently for even cooking and to avoid burning.
Tenderloin can be cooked to medium-rare (145 F/63 C), or slightly higher. Allow to rest for about five minutes before serving.
Tenderloins can be grilled whole, cut into thick rounds and grilled or use for kebabs, or cut crosswise and gently pounded to make small medallions.
Ground Pork and Pork Burgers:
Ground pork, like any ground meat, must be cooked to well done.
Pork burgers can be seasoned with just salt and pepper, or with as exotic ingredient as the imagination allows.
Four ounce burgers, about 3/4 inches thick, will take about 10-15 minutes, turning once.
Cooking al fresco is great fun, but the rules of food safety still apply:
Thaw frozen foods in the refrigerator.
Wash everything- hands, cutting boards, utensils - before and after touching food.
Avoid cross-contamination: make sure that you don't put cooked food on the same plate or chopping board you used for raw food.
Discard marinades which have been used for uncooked meats.
Refrigerate leftovers and any perishable food promptly.
Use a meat thermometer, especially when cooking ground meat of any type, to ensure a safe internal temperature has been reached.
Keep hot foods hot (above 140 F/60 F), and cold foods cold (40 F/4 C or below).