Eating raw or undercooked pork is usually not be a good idea due to Trichinella Spiralis, a worm parasite that can exist in humans. If pigs eat scraps of meat containing the larval cysts, its meat will be infected as a result. And at this point, if eaten raw or even slightly undercooked, it becomes dangerous for human beings as well. This is why the tradition has it that pork must be eaten cooked or overcooked even.
But is it really not possible to eat undercooked pork or consider it part of raw foods? Imagine a delicious mouthful of steak tartare. Lean meat with just a hint of fat to make it velvety, the right mix of spices and extra virgin olive oil for a fruity note. Delicious, isn’t it? And if I were to tell you that the meat is undercooked pork?
Undercooked Pork: Facts and Figures
From this brief description, I am sure you will have noticed something strange: pigs that eat meat. In actual fact, swine used to be fed on anything available and, in truth, this still happens in the case of some domestically reared animals. If, on the other hand, pork comes from industrial pig farms using modern nutritional systems and fodder, Trichinella Spiralis will just be a bad recollection evoked in the stories recounted by our grandparents.
Just consider this figure which puts the question into perspective: between 2002 and 2007 there was an average of just 11 cases of people being infected by this worm in the entire United States. We are talking about 0.0000036%, less than any known rare disease.
Can you eat undercooked pork? Ask the butcher
Does this mean that when some would-be TV expert looks disgusted in front of a pinkish pork cutlet, you should just dismiss the matter with a shrug? For once, the answer is yes. Also because lightly cooked and undercooked pork has quite another flavour.
If, on the other hand, you are still dubious, your best bet is to seek out a pork meat whose source is guaranteed. Many butchers offer their customers certificates of traceability, which makes it easy to identify the pig farm that has supplied it. A phone call, or even a visit in the case of the more scrupulous among you, will provide sufficient reassurance as to the fodder employed and the sanitary inspections carried out on the meat.
Eating undercooked pork: some advice
And once you have decided to take the big step, well, you are spoilt for choice. Our advice, however, is to go about it gradually and to cook your roast slightly less than you would normally do. You know when you carve a saddle of pork and hear that detestable sound similar to a blade slicing a piece of rubber? To avoid this happening, instead of cooking it as usual for an hour (per kilo) at 200 °C, do not exceed 40 minutes. Then just get a load of that extra flavour.
Experiment gradually with other cuts of pork, for instance, with steak cooked in the same way as beef, until finally daring to go as far as the most audacious gourmets: bite-sized pieces of raw sausage meat. Obviously, in this case you have to be certain of the origin and quality of your product, but once this is assured, enjoy this great tasting experience with eyes shut.
Better cooked than raw: pork recipes
If just the thought of raw pork makes you queasy, or you just want to stay on the safe side with your meat choices, there is no end to excellent and thoroughly cooked pork dishes. Savour the spice and satisfying zest of Thai pork satay, where the pork is skewered and drenched in a creamy sauce of peanuts, chilli, lime, curry, and other spices. If you want the pork itself to be the protagonist, learn how to roast, bake, or grill a pork tenderloin. For a fresh variation on a timeless classic, add basil and juniper berries to pulled pork sandwiches. For a flavourful stew showcasing tomato, onion, garlic, and paprika, try chilli pork adobo from the Philippines. And if exotic and extravagant is more what you’re after, catch people’s attention with octopus lollipops and pork belly. Anyway, you carve or cook it, pork offers a unique journey for your taste buds.