You may be wondering if beef and pork (both nutritionally considered red meat) can fit into a healthy lifestyle. The answer: yes! Lean cuts of beef and pork are most easily identified by the word “loin” in the name. If a cut wants to truly carry the lean title, it must been the USDA’s guidelines: per 3 ½ ounce cooked serving, it contains less than 10 grams of total fat, 4.5 g of saturated fat and 95 milligrams of cholesterol. Pork tenderloin even meets the requirements for “extra lean”, making it leaner than a boneless, skinless chicken breast. Once you choose your cut, its back to grilling basics for the best steak or chop.
Dry rubs add flavor to tender cuts of meat, but a marinade can add flavor and tenderness – opening up your culinary possibilities. Lean cuts of beef and pork work well with both but some cuts may benefit from a marinade.
When it comes to grilling, few things matter more than the meat’s internal temperature. No matter how balanced your seasoning blend, an over- or undercooked steak isn’t a steak at its best. Insert a thermometer through the side of the steak, into the thickest part, to get an accurate read. Well done steak should read 170°; medium 160°F; medium rare 145°F. Remove beef from heat 5–10 degrees before it reaches your ideal temperature—it will continue cooking after it’s removed from heat.
Pork today is about 16% leaner and 27% lower in saturated fat than it was a few decades ago, making it important not to overcook a chop. Fresh pork muscle cuts (chops, roasts, loins, tenderloins) should be cooked to 145°F to preserve quality, juiciness and tenderness.
Once a steak, chop or burger is removed from the grill, let it rest for 3–5 minutes. That means no slicing, dicing or taste testing. A well-rested steak holds on to its juices and continues cooking, without overcooking.
When it’s time to slice, go against the grain. First find the direction of the grain (the way the muscle fibers run in a steak) then slice across it, instead of parallel with it, for the most tender slices.