Morning Sun

PIGGING OUT

Beef too costly? Pork and its price point may prove more satisfying

- Story and photos by Cathy Thomas

It was sticker shock that made me turn from beef to pork.

My trip to Costco to buy the Christmas roast created a pricepoint dilemma.

For several years I’ve served a beef tenderloin roast, a prime option that is delicious, tender and a cinch to carve.

When I sashayed over to the petite pile of those log-shaped beauties, I was in for a blow. Even the smallest offering in the case was $182. Maybe in the past I bought choice instead of prime. The price tag had always hovered around half that much.

Within eyeshot, a much larger meat case housed an impressive pile of whole boneless pork loins, priced at $1.99 a pound, averaging about 10 pounds at a total of $20. I envisioned cutting the 19-inch loin into three parts, the center one to roast and two on either end to freeze.

Two cuts yields three roasts

Of course, you can just buy a precut 3½- to 4-pound, center-cut boneless pork loin at supermarke­ts and butcher shops. No problem. At my local Albertsons they were priced at around $16.

But if you buy a whole loin, it can produce three roasts. Make two cuts, each next to the center portion, which is approximat­ely 7-9 inches long. That center roast can be star of a holiday spread. The boned pork roasts at either end are bonuses: the shoulder end, often labeled blade end, and the hip end, often labeled sirloin end roast. They can be frozen for later use (New Year’s Day pozole comes to mind).

Grandma’s temp

Outdated cookbooks or recipes from Great-grandma often recommend cooking pork to 170 degrees (or even higher). Roast a pork loin to 145 degrees and let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes before carving. Don’t worry, trichinae are killed at 137 degrees. The pink color doesn’t mean the meat is undercooke­d. When pork is cooked to the recommende­d internal temperatur­e of 145 degrees, it is normal to see pink-tinged meat in the center.

Buy a good instant-read thermomete­r. You can test your thermomete­r’s accuracy by placing the tip in boiling water. It should read 212 degrees.

One serves six

I’m serving eight guests this Christmas. Two are children and one is vegetarian, so a 3½- to 4-pound no-waste center-cut pork loin is perfect. If your guest list is bigger, you can cook up two roasts.

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