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Published: Tuesday, 9/16/2008

Divide & save: A whole pork loin can help stretch food dollars

BY KATHIE SMITH
BLADE FOOD EDITOR
Company's Coming Pork Roast. Company's Coming Pork Roast.
NOT BLADE PHOTO Enlarge

A boneless whole pork loin is a big piece of meat for the home cook to tackle. But when the 8-to-10-pound piece is advertised for about $1.99 per pound, it might be worth your time and money to buy one and have it cut into pieces you can use in the coming weeks.

Dividing the piece into a couple roasts and/or packages of pork chops or both is a good way to stretch your food dollars. For that you need the help of the store butcher, space in your freezer, and a plan for using it.

A $20 piece of meat can be stretched for 18-20 servings or more, depending on how you cook it. That s about $1 per serving.

Prepare one cut in the days following your purchase and freeze the other two or three for the coming weeks.

"An average pork tenderloin roast is two to three pounds," says Stephanie Stute of the Ohio Pork Producers Council. "Usually pork tenderloin is boneless, although you can get it bone-in."

A boneless roast cooks quicker than the bone-in roast, but it can become drier if overcooked.

She suggests cutting the pork loin into two roasts and four pork chops, and using the end pieces as strips for stir-fry or cubes for kabobs. "The ends aren t as even as the middle part of the loin," she says.

The number of chops you get depends on the thickness of the chop. There are at least 10 ( -inch) chops, but it varies. "This works well for backyard barbecues or when cooking for a crowd," says Ms. Stute.

If you don t see a whole pork loin in the meat case of your local supermarket, ask for it. "That s what the meat manager uses to cut pork chops," she says.

Cuts can be stored in the freezer for three to six months if packaged properly.

When roasting pork, the final internal temperature should be 160 degrees, but the National Pork Board recommends removing larger cuts of pork at 155 degrees; allow it to set for 10 minutes before slicing. The temperature of the roast continues to rise to 160 degrees and the pork juices redistribute throughout the roast before slicing.

Roast in an uncovered shallow pan at 350 degrees for 20 minutes per pound.

Pork roast also can be grilled over indirect heat for 45 to 60 minutes per pound and an internal temperature of 160 degrees.

Pork is an excellent source of thiamin, vitamin B6, phosphorous, niacin, and is a good source of riboflavin, potassium, and zinc.

Roasting pork loin can be as simple as salting it, sprinkling it with lemon pepper, and putting it in the oven. Pork chops can be simply baked and then basted with barbecue sauce during the last 10 minutes of baking.

But there s literally a world of recipes that you can adapt.

Company s Coming Pork Roast is roasted for 45 minutes before a simple brown sugar-honey mustard glaze is added. Canned peaches sprinkled with brown sugar-cinnamon and dotted with butter are added for the final roasting time. Serve with baked potatoes, green beans, and salad for a special weekend dinner for family or friends.

Make your own Cajun seasoning for Cajun Pork Roast. The spices include paprika, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, thyme, oregano, salt, white pepper, cumin, and nutmeg. Serve with roasted new potatoes, black beans, and Orange and Onion Salad.

Pork is a popular meat in German cuisine, whether you make roast pork with sauerkraut or you serve pork with potato pancakes. Bavarian Chops are lightly floured, browned, sauted with mushrooms and green onion, and simmered in beer. Served with buttered noodles or German-style spaetzle with braised red cabbage, it s a great Oktoberfest meal.

Pork is just as important in Mexican dishes. Hispanic Heritage Month began Sept. 15, which is the anniversary of independence for Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Hondouras, and Nicaragua as well as Mexico (today) and Chile (Thursday). Spicy Pork Carnitas, which means "little meats," is cooked and seasoned pork, shredded and chopped for tacos. It s a good way to use the ends of the pork loin.

Pork is also a food of the American fall harvest.

Autumn Glazed Pork Chops uses another seasonal favorite: cranberry sauce. This is a fast recipe for weeknights.

Pair pork chops with apples, applesauce, and peaches. Michigan dried cherries can be used to make a wonderful sauce for sauted boneless pork chops.

Take advantage of seasonal foods and supermarket and meat market specials to stretch your food dollars. There s so much variety you won t have to repeat your menus.

Contact Kathie Smith at: food@theblade.com or 419-724-6155.



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