Mar
22
2011

  Pig Anatomy

While I was very happy with the way the beef ribs turned out when I cooked them in the crock-pot, I was less satisfied with the final result of the pork ribs.

Although I pre-cut and wrapped the remainder of the pork ribs and froze them with instructions on how to cook them in the crock-pot, I decided to try something new, so I had a rack defrosting in the fridge for two days now, and cooked them today.

I cooked them for 4 hours on a rack, covered at 300F, and then another hour uncovered at 350F. The end result was so much better than the crock-pot version, I'll defrost and cook the last rack this way when we get back from NY. The outer part got nice and crispy while keeping the rest tender.

Plus it was much easier to pull the meat from the bone when I cooked it on the rack-- much of the fat rendered off, and the meat itself was dry and easy to handle. I tried a new way of cutting and cleaning the pieces, which turned out to be much more effective than the way I tried last time, too.

Last time, T complained that there was too much fat in the meat. I didn't see much fat when I prepared it, but I could taste what he was talking about. I cut the boneless parts off first today, and examined what appeared to be "layers" of meat that were not apparent when raw, but could be separated once cooked. There wasn't fat between the layers, exactly, but something that wasn't quite meat, either. It was edible, but did taste rather fatty. Maybe it was some kind of interior muscle fat. I am not an expert in pig anatomy, so I really don't know what it was. But I do know that when it was warm from the oven, it was extremely easy to pull the meaty-meat apart, and then just with the side of a knife scrape off this layer of mystery "fat". It was only present on the part of the rib down past where the bone ended.

If you get a rack of "baby back" ribs at the supermarket, this part is not attached, which is why I had never come across it before. Lately I've been cooking with full racks (about 3' long) with lots of "extra" meat attached that for lack of special knowledge I just cooked like the familiar part of the ribs.

I saved a few of the choicest ribs (bone part only) for T and W to eat for dinner tonight, and shredded the rest of the pork to freeze. I like that there are lots of yummy crispy bits in with the larger pieces of meat. The meat is only seasoned with salt & pepper, so I'll be able to add whatever seasonings I want when I cook with it in the future. I anticipate it will either go into tacos or barbecue sandwiches. After reserving some meat for dinner tonight, I wound up with 1.25 pounds of cooked meat for the future.

I also par-baked three loaves of bread. I haven't done this before, so I'm going on faith that this will turn out fine. While the bread that I bake several times per week is very easy and hardly requires any active working time at all, it does require advance planning, since I must put the bread out to rise 2 hours before the finished loaf will be done. By par-baking the bread, I've hopefully gotten it into a state where I'll just need to preheat the oven for 15 minutes, then cook the bread for another 10 minutes or so, something that can be done simultaneously with preparing dinner, rather than hours in advance.