Bought Big Honking Pork Loin - now what?

bbstxJuly 31, 2012

Boneless pork loins were on sale at the grocery this morning, so I bought one. Sorta like a dog chasing a car, I've got it, now what do I do with it?

I've found several threads about pork tenderloin and the recipes sound delicious. Can pork loin be treated like pork tenderloin?

Since I'm only cooking for me and DH, I would like to use this piece of meat several different ways: cutlets, small roast, maybe even grind a little for thai lettuce wraps. Any suggestions on the best way to portion and freeze the meat? Is a 1 lb chunk too small to treat as a roast?

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When I buy a whole loin, I cut it up and freeze different amounts.
Pork loin is different from tenderloin in the same way that New York strip es different from a filet mignon.
I usually cut a center portion weighing about 2 p0ounds for a roast pork know well done, lots of dark gravy onions and the leftovers either makes sliced pork sandwiches or gets shredded and mixed with BBQ sauce.
I cut other pieces about a inch to an inch and a half thick for boneless loin chops.....usually grill them. Then I will cut pieces from the skinny end for kabobs.
If you want to you can cut thin slices and pound them thin for a breaded pork loin sandwich ( deep fry it...or fry in about 1/2 inch of oil).
But I think a whole loin is just too much leftover unless you have about 12 people to eat it.
Linda C

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 6:07PM
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I love buying them when they come on sale.
I slice pork chops out of it and roasts. The funny looking end is usually a slow-cooked roast. Depending if I want a bunch of pork chops and 1 roast, or a few pork chops and 2 roasts, is how I cut it.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 6:12PM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

I cut them into several pieces and freeze also.
My absolutely favorite way to cook them is, first, cook a piece as a roast to just done-don't overcook. Then over the next few days, slice off "chops" and lightly flour and season then quickly saute in a little evoo. They are fabulous this way. Very juicy.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 7:15PM
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Bumblebeez - thanks! I'm going to try that. I like pork roast, but not leftover cold in sandwiches like my DH (he grew up in a big pork-eating family, me not so much). I cook just for the two of us. Sounds like a great way to recycle leftovers.


    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 7:48PM
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Now I remember why I never buy pork. I cut off and cooked two nice "cutlets" tonight and made mustard cream sauce a la Weed. I cooked them to 165 degrees. They were not quite pink but they were still moist. DH would not eat his because it didn't "taste done." It turned out that if the pork is not dry and tough, he thinks it isn't done, regardless of the temperature. Granny always told him it had to be overdone or you shouldn't eat it. Save me from Granny!

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 8:31PM
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Nancy zone 6

My DH & yours must have the same Granny, bbstx, DH always wants everything cooked to shoe leather perfection.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 8:55PM
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ngraham, love your turn of phrase "shoe leather perfection." You got it!

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 9:03PM
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Remember what I said about candle lit dinners? Turn off the lights.....light 2 candles, pull the curtains and serve the meat. When he can't see that it may be just slightly a wee bit pink, he may think differently...because it will be tender.
Take yours off the fire early....cook his to a dried out hunk of sawdust!

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 9:17PM
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BF love pork chops and roasts. I cut up leftover pork and put it in chili--yum!

    Bookmark   August 1, 2012 at 8:38AM
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My favorite way to prepare a pork loin is to cut it into cubes and use it in stews.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2012 at 8:43AM
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1. Thin slice batter deep fry.

2. Chinese roasted pork, meant to be served cold as well as hot.

3. Couple of drops of dark soy sauce will make all pink meat look brown.


    Bookmark   August 1, 2012 at 9:09AM
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Lindac, It wasn't what he could see that put DH off, it was the 'taste.' It wasn't dry and tough, so to him it wasn't done.

Samething happened when I first brined chicken breasts before roasting. He didn't want to eat the chicken because to his mind they weren't 'done;' they were moist, maybe even succulent.

I have a thermopen that I use for everything, but especially when cooking meats to assure that I have reached the USDA recommended internal temperature.

Oh, well, it is his loss. He doesn't act ugly when he thinks the food isn't 'done.' He just stops eating the meat and fills up on veggies. I suppose that is his right. I sure don't want to eat anything I'm uncomfortable about.

Here is a link that might be useful: Thermopen

    Bookmark   August 1, 2012 at 9:42AM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

Is it possible, bbstx, to get him involved when you cook? Something like,
"Hey, honey, My hands are tied up right now, could you tell me what the temperature for cooking pork is? I don't want to undercook it, what does that Joy of Cooking over there say?"

Something like that :-)

It took me years to convince my dh to learn the correct way to pronounce salmon. I really think that he only became convinced when he thought he was indeed, possibly, ignorant and a rube. (He's quite smart though! An engineer)
But his momma says saLmon.

I think the best ways for people to change is to realize it themselves...

    Bookmark   August 1, 2012 at 2:48PM
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beez, when DH and I first married, he said he would exist on PB&J before he would ever cook. In the 20 years since, he hasn't changed. He will, however, clean the kitchen. :-)

    Bookmark   August 1, 2012 at 9:09PM
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You would be doing your DH a great favor to cook all meat tender and succulent so he will eat a few bites and fill up on vegetables. Much better than having a vegatable hater who fills up on meat and gravy.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2012 at 10:18AM
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bbstx - is DH aware that the new recommended internal temperature for ALL meats (exception: ground meats) is 145F? At 140F all harmful bacteria are killed. The extra 5 degrees is a safety margin.

I've been cooking pork to 140F for years. I loathe dry overcooked meat with a passion. I did a huge crown roast for DH's family who are very conservative - everything is cooked until it's truly DEAD. They loved it, asked for the recipe and took home leftovers. You can convert even the hard core!


Here is a link that might be useful: USDA recommeded internal temps for meat

    Bookmark   August 2, 2012 at 10:33AM
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jadeite, I have told him what the USDA recommends and shown him the website all to no avail. Doesn't matter. USDA doesn't trump Granny!

    Bookmark   August 2, 2012 at 8:14PM
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Bbstx, I think I'd just cook the meat to what you know is a good doneness, take yours out and leave his sitting on/in heat until you're ready to eat. For things like chops or cutlets, the extra 5 minutes while you're serving up everything else should be enough to take it to 'proper toughness' for him.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2012 at 12:27AM
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Cc-NJ, "proper toughness." Love it! You've caught the essence!

I don't know how "what to do with a pork loin" has digressed into my husband's eating peculiarities (I've contributed, I'll admit it), but let me say again, he is not rude or ugly acting when the meat is not cooked to Granny's standards. The only way I know is there is a huge piece of meat left on his plate or he zaps the meat portion of the meal.

I don't think any adult should eat what they don't like. I sure don't want to.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled discussion of pork recipes. :-)

Any tips on grinding a chunk of pork loin in the food processor to make lettuce wraps?

    Bookmark   August 3, 2012 at 6:27AM
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I find grinding/chopping meat in the food processor pretty easy. I think the main thing is to not over load the processor. I'd say put a maximum of 2 inches of meat in and then just pulse until you get it to the grind you like. Of course, scrape down if you are getting any large pieces stuck higher up. A little oil rubbed on the inside of the bowl doesn't hurt. Some people like to freeze the meat a bit first, but I don't usually bother. I've done all types of meat and it works fine, including chicken, which is pretty soft. For your wraps, if you want to put some green onion or garlic in the mix, you can just process the garlic first and add the meat and onion. If using yellow onion, I add it first with the garlic.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2012 at 4:13PM
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At the first mention of the Thai lettuce wraps, I did a google to find a recipe. The number of ingredients in one recipe made my eyes glaze over.....zzzzzzz....

Does anyone have a good recipe for lettuce wraps that doesn't consist of twenty-eleven ingredients? Thanks!


    Bookmark   August 3, 2012 at 4:44PM
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My mother always used to take meat out of the oven, cut a piece off for the three of us and return the rest to be cooked until dry for my father. Nowadays he actually orders steak "medium" instead of "well done", but they've been married for more than 50 years. DH has progressed to "medium rare" more rapidly than that. However his mom enjoyed smoking way more than cooking and his practice wife was Eng ... uh, never mind.*

"Porchetta" rub (per pound of meat)
1 tsp fennel seed
1/4 tsp peppercorns
Pinch red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
1 clove minced garlic
1 tsp minced fresh rosemary

Toast fennel seed for a few minutes in a dry pan. Grind fennel, peppercorns and red pepper flakes in a spice grinder. Combine with remaining ingredients and pat all over the meat. Refrigerate for 24-48 hours before cooking. I like to grill it outdoors. The advanced salting will keep it nice and moist, even if you overlook it a bit.

*N.B. there are many fine cooks in the UK, I'm just joking. I like to tweak DH about his mistake and that's her most prominent attribute. They are both happily married to other people now.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2012 at 4:56PM
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I also like to marinate cubes of pork loin, thread on skewers with chunks of fresh pineapple, rub or brush with olive or vegetbale oil, and grill. Over a hot grill, you can get a char on the outside while the inside of the cubes stays moist.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2012 at 9:21AM
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teresa_nc7, I posted this recipe in New Recipes - August 2012 thread. If you want to read the original recipes, the links are on that thread.

Yes, it is a bit tedious to toast and grind rice, but it can be done way in advance, as can juicing the limes. After reading about fish sauce on the Cook's Thesaurus, I substituted low sodium soy sauce with a squirt of anchovy paste in it.

It was not difficult to make. I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to grind pork in my food processor.

Thai Pork Lettuce Wraps from Cooks Illustrated.

Yield: 6 appetizers or 4 main courses


1 pork tenderloin (about 1 pound), trimmed of silver skin and fat, cut into 1-inch chunks
2 1/2 Tbsp. fish sauce
1 Tbsp. white rice
1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
2 medium shallots , peeled and sliced into thin rings (about 1/2 cup)
3 Tbsp. juice from 2 limes
2 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons chopped mint leaves
3 Tbsp. chopped cilantro leaves
1 head Bibb lettuce , washed and dried, leaves separated and left whole


1. Place pork chunks on large plate in single layer. Freeze meat until firm and starting to harden around edges but still pliable, 15 to 20 minutes.

2. Place half of meat in food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped, 5 to six 1-second pulses. Transfer ground meat to medium bowl and repeat with remaining chunks. Stir 1 tablespoon fish sauce into ground meat and marinate, refrigerated, 15 minutes.

3. Heat rice in small skillet over medium-high heat; cook, stirring constantly, until deep golden brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer to small bowl and cool 5 minutes. Grind rice with spice grinder, mini food processor, or mortar and pestle until it resembles fine meal, 10 to 30 seconds (you should have about 1 tablespoon rice powder).

4. Bring broth to simmer in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add pork and cook, stirring frequently, until about half of pork is no longer pink, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon rice powder over pork; continue to cook, stirring constantly, until remaining pork is no longer pink, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes longer. Transfer pork to large bowl; let cool 10 minutes.

5. Add remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce, remaining 2 teaspoons rice powder, shallots, lime juice, sugar, red pepper flakes, mint, and cilantro to pork; toss to combine. Serve with lettuce leaves.

I added a a peanut sauce from Chow

Mix together (I used my immersion blender):

3/4 cup natural-style creamy peanut butter (used crunchy as directed by my Vietnamese friend)
1/3 cup water
3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice (from about 1 1/2 medium limes)
4 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon granulated sugar (omitted)
2 1/4 teaspoons chile-garlic paste
1 medium garlic clove, mashed to a paste
1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

Here is a link that might be useful: New Recipes Review - August 2012

    Bookmark   August 5, 2012 at 4:53PM
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This relates to Lars' post on "pastes." I made up a big batch of Thai curry paste with similar ingredients to what is listed for the pork wraps, and then freeze it in ice cube trays and then when it is frozen I have individual seasoning packets. I do that because when I buy cilantro I inevitably have it leftover and it goes bad, so now I just make a big batch of this or something similar instead of trying to use it recipe by recipe.

Oh, and if you don't like fish sauce, tamari or low salt soy sauce if an OK substitute.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2012 at 8:54AM
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This is an old recipe but an easy way to use up a hunk of pork loin. I usually don't thicken the cooking liquid but you can to make a good gravy for mashed potatoes.


1 1/2 lbs. pork cubes
1/2 cup flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 Tbs. butter
2 tbs. vegetable oil
1 envelope dried onion soup mix
2 cups chicken broth or water, or 1 cup of each

Thread pork on small wooden skewers. Combine flour, salt, pepper and garlic powder; roll kabobs in flour mixture until coated.

In large skillet, heat butter and oil over medium heat. Brown kabobs, turning frequently; drain excess oil. Sprinkle with soup mix. Add broth and/or water.

Reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 1 hour or until tender. If desired, thicken pan juices.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2012 at 10:58AM
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lp, I buy the Dorot frozen cilantro. Fresh cilantro is not easy to find in my little rural area and I don't use much of it anyway. It is an herb that is ok in small amounts but I find it easily overwhelms other flavors. And thanks for the tip on fish sauce.

City Chicken sounds delish! It is going into my "to try soon" file.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2012 at 11:38AM
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