Ah…pork. This versatile, delicious meat is all the more tasty when pre-soaked in a sauce that draws out its fullest flavor. The secret to great pork marinade is twofold. First, be aware of the ingredients that work best with different cuts of pork. Second, develop a firm grasp on the spices that go with pork. Combine these two veins of wisdom, and you’ll be whipping up great pork marinades before you know it!
The Cuts. The pig runs a wide gamut, from leaner portions like tenderloin and lean chops to richer cuts like pork shoulder or bacon. The following ingredients complement each cut particularly well.
- Pork shoulder: chipotle peppers, cumin, tomatoes
- Pork belly or bacon: arugula, egg, brown sugar
- Lean pork chops: apples, ginger, sage, honey, peaches, and balsamic vinegar
- Pork tenderloin: cream, potatoes, thyme, mustard, sauerkraut, port, fig
- Ham: brown sugar, sweet-hot mustard, chutney, apple vinegar, orange zest
- Ribs: chipotle, cumin, paprika, honey, brown sugar, tomato paste
- Pork cutlet: chile peppers, cilantro, garlic, lime, and peanuts
The Spices. Here are some great spices to use with all types of pork: bay leaf, caraway, chile peppers (dried red or jalapeno), cinnamon, cloves, cumin, fennel, garlic, ginger, mint, mustard (Dijon), onions, oregano, paprika, parsley, pepper, rosemary, sage, salt, star anise, thyme, and tumeric.
The Marinade. To experiment with your own delicious pork marinade, start with the ingredients that complement your cut, then add some of your favorite pork spices. Use a mortar and pestle to grind up a new spice rub, and mix it with a 1/4 cup of olive oil, mustard, balsamic vinegar, or other wet ingredient. Or, drop peppers, mustard, or chopped fruit into the blender to make your marinade, adding spices and oil or canned tomatoes. Put your pork cuts and marinade in a ziplock bag bag and marinate for one to twenty-four hours in the refrigerator. Then grill, roast, pan fry, bake, or braise!
Fooducopia’s Online Pantry: We have some wonderful artisan sellers who specialize in pork. Try Home Appetit’s Toasted Caraway & Mustard Seed Pork Blend, Anija’s Mom’s Mustard, or the Jalapeño Relish from Hot Gringa’s. The good people at Pig Salt Spice Company sell a mean pork rub and even provide this tasty recipe to go with it:
Pig Salt Spice Company’s Marinade for Grilled Pork
- 4 Tablespoons Southwest BBQ Rub
- 8 oz Tomato Paste
- 1 Tablespoon Dijon Mustard
- 1/3 c brown sugar
- 3 oz Bourbon
- 3 oz Cider Vinegar
- 3 oz Rice Vinegar
- 1 oz Worcestershire Sauce
Method: Combine ingredients in small pot. Bring to a simmer over medium heat while stirring ingredients. Marinate pork for 1 hour or overnight in two-thirds of the sauce. Use the rest to baste while grilling your meat.
Get your pork on!