Making the meat you want, the way you want it. Learn how to brown ground pork like a pro!
So you want to cook ground pork and you’re wondering how to do it so the meat will be crispy and brown, and not greasy and gray. Luckily for you, our readers, we have the best tips to keep the meat from getting watery and to get the best possible flavor.
Raw ground pork has a pinkish hue compared to the bright red color of beef, and it requires a little cooking technique and some equipment to turn brown when heated.
To brown ground pork, you will need a strainer and a bowl into which you can drain the fat. The technique itself goes as follows:
Add oil to skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Add the pork, stirring, and fry until heated through while the fat melts. Strain the meat from the fat, return to the pan, and continue frying until it is nicely browned.
You will notice a little more fat coming out of the pork once again. Leave it there. Some fat will keep it moist while cooking, especially when transferred to the main course dish, so you want a little fat left in the pot.
Essentially, a two-step process:
- You cook the meat to melt the fat;
- You strain the fat and brown the meat.
As soon as the meat is browned, take it off the heat; you do not want to overcook it, because then it will be dry and tough.
Please note: Ground pork is fattier than ground beef and will release a lot of fat when pan-fried. Do not add too much cooking oil or butter when browning it—a tablespoon, maximum two, will do—or your dish will be too greasy.
Time Limit on Cooking Ground Pork
Ground pork is a rich source of protein and has a familiar meaty, gamey taste that people enjoy eating. When it comes to cooking it, there is a time limit to how long you can pan-fry it.
If you cook it too long, the pork will start to dry out and become tough. Ideally, you should cook it for no more than 10 minutes total over medium to medium-high heat during the browning process.
You will get moist, tender ground pork that is still juicy if you follow the time limit. If you’re not sure if your pork is done yet, cut into one of the thicker pieces and take a look inside: if it’s pink in the center, it needs a bit more time.
Ground pork is a versatile ingredient that can be used in all sorts of dishes. It can be pan-fried, stir-fried, sautéed, braised, and so much more.
It’s generally cooked in a skillet or wok with other vegetables and spices for maximum flavor. The best way to tell if the ground pork is ready is that it is safe to eat if it is white all the way through with an internal temperature reading of 160°F (71°C), according to the USDA.
The Steps on Browning Ground Pork
Many recipes require you to brown ground pork before cooking. The whole process is relatively simple, but a few steps must be done for the dish to turn out well.
Step 1: Grease and heat your pan:
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add vegetable oil and allow it to heat up.
Ceramic and non-stick pans get hot in no time. Their bodies are made of aluminum, a metal that conducts heat well, so the oil in them gets hot enough to cook in just 20-30 seconds.
Cast iron skillets, carbon steel skillets, and stainless steel pans take longer, as they are thicker and less conductive. At the Home Cook World editorial team, we preheat our skillets for a good 2-3 minutes before cooking in them.
Step 2: Slap the ground pork in the pan and stir:
Put the ground pork in the pan and start frying. Use your spatula to break up larger pieces into bite-sized pieces.
Stir continuously until the meat is no longer pink. At this stage, there should be a lot of fat in the pan and the meat should look grayish.
Step 3: Drain the fat from the meat:
Use a strainer and a bowl to catch the excess grease and pour the meat into the strainer. Leave it out for a minute or two, so that it drains thoroughly, then put the meat back in the pan.
Alternatively, if you’re cooking with a cast iron skillet, you can use the spouts on it to get rid of most of the grease. While this method isn’t as effective as a strainer, it works well for recipes that welcome fatty meat.
Step 4: Continue cooking, keep stirring:
To brown, keep the heat on medium-high and keep stirring. The stir promotes even browning and prevents the meat from sticking to the bottom and sides of the pan, especially if you’re cooking in a stainless steel fry pan.
Step 5: Cook to completion
This step is simple: continue cooking until all the meat is well done.
How to Not Overcook Ground Pork
Here are some special tips to help you in the process of browning and cooking ground pork without overcooking it:
Ground pork should have some browning on it before you add the sauce or other ingredients, so the flavors of the meat are brought out. Browning works best when meat touches a hot cooking surface for a long enough time.
Since ground pork is high in fat, it can burn quickly. Keep the heat on medium to medium-high, but never at the highest setting, to prevent it from overcooking.
Adding a wet binder, such as an egg or some bread crumbs, will help keep the pork from drying out and becoming tough.
Some add baking soda to brown the pork faster and keep it moist. But baking soda imparts a smell and taste to the meat that not everyone will like, so try it out on a small batch and decide for yourself.
The best option for cooking your ground pork is using a pressure cooker. When using this method, most of the fat will render away from the meat, making it healthier and leaving more flavor behind.
You can also use a slow cooker if that’s what you have at home. Place all ingredients together in a slow cooker and allow them to simmer for about eight hours or until fully cooked through.
Why It is Critical to Cook Ground Pork Thoroughly
Ground pork needs to be cooked thoroughly to kill any harmful bacteria. If it is not cooked correctly, this can lead to food poisoning. Ground pork can also contain harmful parasites, so it is essential to cook it until it is no longer pink inside.
It is most dangerous for the young, elderly, and pregnant women to consume undercooked meats. Ground meats, especially pork, usually come from the shoulder, and once it is ground up, it can cause severe illnesses, including death for those with low immune systems.
There are several ways to cook ground pork safely, either in a skillet, on the stovetop, in an oven, or in a microwave. The pork should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160°F (71°C).
If you are unsure if the ground pork is cooked through, use a food thermometer to check the temperature and stick the probe into one of the larger chunks of meat in your pan.
The Versatility of Ground Pork
You can enjoy so many things with ground pork like casseroles, meatballs, pork burgers, meatloaf, and it can be mixed into any type of food, even as stuffing for added flavor. We hope there is light shed on how to brown ground pork and the importance of cooking it thoroughly.
Ground pork can be a delicious addition to your meals. You can substitute it in place of ground chicken or ground beef and season it well for added kicks to your favorite dishes.
By following these simple cooking tips, you can rest assured that your ground pork will be cooked through, and you will get the perfect brown color you desire.