In this edition of Ask the Butcher, we talk about porterhouse perfection, “soft” meat, the best ground meat, and how to cook pork. Do you have something you want to ask the butcher? Get in touch. We’re (usually) more than happy to answer.
How do I cook a porterhouse steak?
Cooking a porterhouse steak is an art form. It’s part strip steak (which cooks one way) and part tenderloin (which cooks another way), plus it’s not cheap. So a lot of people ask the butcher for help. Here’s how to cook them both at once without overcooking the tenderloin or undercooking the strip: Heat up your favorite pan on the stovetop and then sear the steak all over and then cook it extremely slowly in the oven. It doesn’t need anything but salt and pepper, though if you want to finish it with butter, no one would fault you.
My mom is getting older and having some trouble chewing. Still, she loves to eat meat. Are there softer or more tender cuts for her?
Any type of non-intact meat like ground beef, ground pork, ground lamb, or sausage can work for someone having trouble chewing – be it a kid with new braces, a baby transitioning to solids, or an aging parent. If she (or you) want a steak, splurge for tenderloin or try the more affordable teres major. You could also get some chuck and, says Josh Applestone, “Cook it until it’s basically a pudding.” All are super flavorful options we suggest when anyone asks the butcher for easier-to-chew cuts. And anyone would be happy to eat them – not just those of us who are having mouth issues.
You sell a lot of different types of ground. Which one should I get?
We do have a bunch of options – ground lamb, ground pork, and several kinds of ground beef (coarse, fine, lean, dry-aged). It really depends on what you’re making. If you’re having burgers, we’re going to suggest using coarse ground. There’s an old joke – or maybe it’s a saying — that goes, What’s a hamburger – chopped ham? No! It’s chopped beef. So that’s why we say coarse. There’s a specific mouth feel of a great burger. You want a bite to be a bit meaty. Fine ground meat is too dense for a burger, but it’s great for meatballs. Dry-aged ground beef is incredibly good, there’s no other way to put it. It has that deeper, umami flavor. As for lean or not lean, well that really depends on you. Some people grew up looking for lean ground because that was the way to know no fillers were being put in the meat. We are clearly not putting anything but meat in our ground meat and we have no fear of fat. Fat is flavor. There are good fats and bad fats, but that’s more of a conversation to have with your cardiologist, not ask your butcher, if you’d like. Everything in moderation, including delicious ground meat.
How should I cook pork?
A long time ago, it was popular to feed pigs slop, which carried germs. This made the animals sick. In an effort not to get similarly sick, people cooked pork within an inch of its life, which makes it very tough. But nowadays you’re not allowed to feed pigs slop. And even if it were legal, our farmers would not be feeding their pigs slop. But since you asked the butcher: Pork tastes best and should be done mid-rare (unless you’re talking about ribs). Currently the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety Inspection Service says pork can be consumed safely when cooked to an internal temperature of 145 degrees F (which is mid-rare), followed by a short rest time.