Rubs and Marinades, Glazes and Sauces
Pork pairs well with many different flavours. Depending on the cut of pork, you may choose a rub to flavour the meat or a marinade to tenderize and flavour it. Glazes and sauces can be prepared with the pork dish, or as a accompaniment on the side. The variations are endless!
Rubs and Marinades
Rubs are generally spice and herb mixtures that provide flavour, but do not tenderize the meat to any extent, so they are better used on pork cuts with higher fat content (ribs, shoulder roasts, or highly marbled pork chops). Rubs work well when the meat is cooked with dry heat (e.g. grilling on the BBQ or roasting in the oven). There are many commercial rub mixtures available, or you can create your own. Once spices and herbs are combined, unused rubs can be stored in a sealed container, away from heat and light, for up to six months.
To use a rub: Apply the rub to the outside of the meat; cook immediately, or cover and refrigerate up to 24 hours. If the rub is in contact with the meat for any longer, salt in the rub will begin to dehydrate the meat.
Marinades are typically a combination of oil with an acidic ingredient (wine, vinegar, soy sauce, orange juice, etc.) and herbs or other flavouring agents. It is not recommended to add salt to a marinade as this can tend to draw the moisture out of meat. If you are short on time, commercial vinaigrettes and oil-based salad dressings (Italian, Greek, etc) make excellent, quick marinades. Meat is soaked in a marinade to tenderize and flavour it (called "marinating"). Leaner cuts of pork (thinner chops, leg cuts, tenderloin) may benefit from the tenderizing properties of a marinade.
To use a marinade: Select a container that is not metal or aluminum (these will react with the acid in the marinade). Glass, enamel or plastic containers work well; sealable plastic bags are suitable as well. Choose a container that will hold the meat snugly - the marinade should come up around the edges of the meat but does not need to cover it. Place the meat in the container, and pour over the liquid marinate; cover and place in refrigerator for 2 - 24 hours. Turn meat over occasionally for best flavour. Discard the remaining marinade before cooking the meat (or boil it and simmer for at least 10 minutes) as it can harbor bacteria.
Try one of these home-made rub or marinade recipes for a new flavour sensation.
Glazes and Sauces
Glazes and sauces make go particularly well with pork, helping to provide extra flavour to all kinds of pork and ham dishes. Glazes and sauces can help make the meat tasty, even if you've accidentally overcooked it (avoid this by using a meat thermometer!). A glaze is usually a sweet, glossy type of sauce, oven used to baste the meat during cooking. A sauce can be prepared with the meat, or as a separate accompaniment to the meal.