Prisco’s Family Market

1108 Prairie Street, Aurora, IL 60506 | 630-264-9400

Hours: Monday - Friday, 7 am to 8:30 pm | Saturday, 7 am to 8 pm | Sunday, 8 am to 7 pm

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Our Food Blog. Gather Round the table.- Tuesday, April 24, 2018

New USDA Guidelines Lower Pork Cooking Temperature

Prior to 1970 pork consumption in the US was dropping yearly at pork had a reputation for being too fat to be a healthy meat choice.  Realizing that this was bad for business the US pork producers took steps to change the genetics, breeding, and feeding of pigs in order to produce a leaner, healthier protein source.  Their efforts proved successful so much so that their next step was to lobby the USDA and ask that they test and eventually reduce the required cooking time for pork because people were overcooking the pork and getting a very dry tasteless meat using the old standards.    In 2011 the FDA announced new cooking guidelines from the nation’s food-safety agency.  In fact, the UDDA made a rather significant change to cooking directions for pork reducing the safe internal temperature a full 15 degrees Fahrenheit.   The new guideline states that pork can be consumed safely when cooked to an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit, followed by a three-minute rest time.

“Our consumer research has consistently shown that Americans have a tendency to overcook common cuts of pork, resulting in a less-than-optimal eating experience,” said Dianne Bettin, a pork producer from Truman, Minn., and chair of the Pork Checkoff’s Domestic Marketing Committee. “The new guidelines will help consumers enjoy pork at its most flavorful, juicy – and safe – temperature.”

The revised recommendation applies to pork whole-muscle cuts, such as loin, chops, and roasts. Ground pork, like all ground meat, should be cooked to 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Regardless of cut or cooking method, both the USDA and National Pork Board recommend using a digital cooking thermometer to ensure an accurate final temperature.

Tags :  pork
Meat Marinades for Barbecue- Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Memorial Day is the official start of summer and that means it is barbecue and grilling time. An important art of barbecuing is the proper use of marinades, which we thought we would explore a bit with you in this food blog.

Most people enjoy a good barbecue, but not many of us are skilled at preparing BBQ foods ourselves. There's a degree of knowledge and certain level of familiarity required for the best results. One could even say it's a minor science: One needs to know which spices complement particular types of meat to maximize their flavor (different blends of seasonings and liquids are used for fish, steak, pork and chicken, for example), and a discerning cook also must have a working knowledge of when and how much to marinade a cut of meat -- or if that meat should be marinated at all.

Here are some tips for preparing a delicious barbecued meal using marinade:

For Beef & Pork

(info gathered from WikiHow)

First, select a cut of meat. Tougher and/or low-fat cuts like flank steak, sirloin, skirt, round, and hanger steaks are best for marinating. Don't ruin expensive steaks by marinating them: quality cuts like rib-eye, porterhouse, T-bone, filet mignon, and NY strip are great as they are and should not be marinated.

When it comes to pork, you can marinate anything from pork chops and cutlets to ribs or roasts. However, be sure to reduce the salt content of marinades used with pork to prevent a curing effect, which can leave some cuts with a ham-like texture. When marinating pork, remember that the thickness of the meat (not the bone) determines how long to marinate.

  • Cut the meat into thin slices, if possible. Marinade works because acids break down muscle tissue, which is a slow process; if the meat is thick, the outside can get sour by the time the marinade actually penetrates the core. Cutting the meat into thin slices will marinate them more evenly. However, slicing steak, for example, prior to cooking greatly increases the chance that it’ll become tough and dry. If you decide to slice it, greatly reduce cooking time and watch carefully. 

    Alternatively, you can cut nicks into the meat that penetrate about halfway through the thickness of the so the marinade can permeate more quickly. In general, the more surface area that's exposed to the marinade, the better the marinade will do its job.

  • Place the meat into a container and add a marinade. A basic marinade consists of an acidic liquid (which will break down muscle fibers), oil, and other flavorings, such as sweeteners, herbs, and/or spices. (For a good basic marinade for steak or pork, try this recipe.)

    Marinating a flat cut of meat in a large ziploc bag can be very useful since you will need less marinade to completely cover it here than you would inside a bowl. Work in the marinade by massaging the meat

  • Put the sealed container in the fridge for 2 to 24 hours, depending on the strength of the marinade.

For Chicken

(info courtesy of howtomainatechicken.com)

A good poultry marinade will not only help prevent meats from drying out, but also protects the more delicate pieces while adding extra flavor. When marinating poultry, make sure to the separate pieces, allowing the marinade to reach as much of the meat as possible. Skinless, boneless chicken breasts can be marinated in as little as 30 minutes. Here is a good, basic recipe for poultry marinade.

  • Place your newly made marinade in a gallon sized zip lock bag (the number and size of your zip lock will vary depending on how much chicken you are making). This step is pretty self explanatory, but the one thing to remember is to make sure that your chicken is fully immersed in the marinade. That way your chicken will be evenly marinated.

  • Allow your marinade and chicken mixture to sit for the time called for in the recipe. This will vary, but be careful not to marinate too long, this can lead to mushy chicken due to the acidic nature of marinades. If you are marinating your chicken for close to or more than an hour, make sure to refrigerate the mixture.

For Fish & Other Seafood

(info courtesy of about.com & ezinearticles.com)

Tender foods like fish and seafood can benefit from a good marinade. Marinades keep fish and seafood from drying out and the oil in the marinade helps keep them from sticking. There is one very important rule about marinating fish and seafood, however: A highly acidic marinade, one containing lots of vinegar or citrus juices, can adversely affect the texture of the fish by essentially pre-cooking it, so you need to use mild marinades for short periods of time.

When it comes to fish, there are two types: firm and flaky. A firm fish (think big fish) can take a stronger marinade for longer. Examples of firm fish are Halibut, Tuna, Marlin, or Sturgeon. Flaky fish, the kind that tries to fall apart on the grill, can't take a strong marinade and shouldn't be marinated for an extended period. Examples of flaky fish are salmon, trout, and cod.

To prepare your fish:

  • Chill the fish in the marinade in the refrigerator for half an hour. It will not need longer than that to absorb the flavor, and as previously mentioned, leaving fish or seafood in an acidic marinade means it will start to "cook" after half an hour, making it mushy.

  • Bake the fish for fifteen to twenty minutes, depending on the size and thickness, or grill or broil it. When it flakes easily with a fork, it is done. Spread the second half of the marinade over the cooked fish using a basting brush. It will soak right into the fish and add extra flavor. Do not use leftover marinade on the cooked fish because it could contain bacteria from the raw fish and cause food poisoning

Do you suffer from Roast-a-phobia?- Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Does the thought of buying, preparing, cooking and carving a large chunk of raw beef, pork or poultry send shivers up your spine?  Well if it’s any consolation, you are not alone.  For so many of our customers, especially our younger shoppers who tend to shop only for themselves or for two, the need to cook large roasts comes up infrequently and is avoided if possible. Unlike home cooks raised in previous generations, you most likely had little or no training while living at home... Want some help overcoming your fear of the roast? 


Start by asking questions and getting advice from others. Start with your Prisco meat department and friends or relatives who have faced the three headed monster “roast” and come out victorious.  Two things that give you a bit of an advantage today that mom didn’t have are the Food Network and the Internet, both great sources of reliable information available pretty much 24/7.


Getting started, you will need a few critical pieces of equipment (listed in order of importance):


1. An oven: If you've been using this as storage, remove all occupants and see if you can turn on the oven. If not, skip the rest of this and call for take-out.


2. A roasting pan: You can substitute the broiler pan that probably came with your oven with a big Dutch oven or cast iron pan. Size will dictate what you can cook.


3. An instant-read thermometer: This will insure that everything you cook comes out fine. Too often people want to skip this and say “who needs a thermometer? I’ll just cook it as long as the recipe calls for."  Far too many expensive roasts have been ruined for lack of using a meat thermometer.  Ovens are not all alike and there are hot and not-so-hot spots in any oven.  We offer them for sale in our store and for less than $10 you can have as good a tool as the best chefs use.


4. A good piece of meat: A whole bird (chicken, duck, or turkey), a beef or pork roast, etc.  When choosing your first victim, know something about the cut of meat and plan accordingly.  Different cuts are priced differently and need to be prepared and cooked differently or they will simply turn out uneatable.  


5. Spices: Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper are a good start. A good sea salt is the next step up. Garlic is always good and if you have fresh herbs or a favorite spice mix/rub use it!


6. A rack, preferably a V-shaped rack. Helps heat get everywhere evenly and gives the meat juices a place to gather for making delicious gravy to enjoy with the meat and accompanying side dishes.


7. Oven mitts & apron (white hat optional): That oven is going to be hot and things can get messy.  A Dr. doesn’t go into the OR without her scrubs or a fire person to a fire without a helmet, coat, boots, and fire pants with suspenders.  Be prepared and dress the part.


8. A baster and/or a brush: Mom wasn’t opening the oven door just to see if the pork roast was still in there.  Your roast needs a little help on its way to becoming delicious.


9. Olive oil, butter or melted butter: Moisture and even cooking are critical to the success of venture.   


10. A timer: Doesn't matter if it's on your stove or smart phone, just make sure it's loud enough that you can hear it.

The act of cooking your roast or bird


• Remove the meat from the fridge and open the package.  Note the weight as this is critical to the amount of time needed to correctly coot the meat.  Refer to a cookbook or to our Prisco’s website recipe tab for a recipe corresponding to the meat that you are preparing to cook.


• Make sure oven racks are in the middle of the oven and you have enough room for the roasting pan and its contents. If not, lower the rack until you do. If you are cooking a bone-in roast there is no need for a rack as the bone will act as your rack.  Preheat the oven to 350° (250° if you're doing duck).


• While the oven is heating, pat the meat dry with paper towels. Salt and pepper liberally (i.e. use more than you think), inside and out.  This helps bring out the meat’s natural flavor.


• If you're using a rack or just the top layer of that broiler pan (the one with the holes) you might want to give it a quick spray of Pam or a light rub of olive oil (makes clean-up easier).


• Place your meat on the pan and put it in the oven. The length of time your meat will need to cook depends on the size of your roast and how well cooked you like your meat. This is where the instant-read thermometer will save the day! Click here for a handy chart and remember to always stick the thermometer in the thickest part of your roast (for chicken it's the thigh).


• When the meat is cooked to your liking, remove it from the oven and let it rest for at least 10 minutes. This is not about torturing you or your guests, it's about letting the juices re-circulate, making the meat tender and juicy.


• Carve, serve and enjoy!


I’ll leave it at that as carving meat is another topic entirely, but as I said earlier advice is always available on the internet to help if necessary.


Good Cooking


Margaret Prisco – Meat Manager