Knowledge Base > Eric Wynkoop - Ask Me Anything (Office Hours)

Ask Me Anything (Office Hours)

Eric Wynkoop - Ask Me Anything (Office Hours)

This event was on Tuesday, January 02, 2024 at 11:00 am Pacific, 2:00 pm Eastern

Join Chef Eric Wynkoop in his virtual office as he welcomes all of your questions. This event was created for you and we encourage you to Ask Anything – from cooking techniques to co… Read More.



How do you manage pork so it does not gets very dry? People complain a lot about this meat (but also chicken breast) having a dry taste.

— ingrid ortega


Okay? So when we, uh, you know, when you say pork, um, and dry, uh, we're really talking about a couple of muss usually, and that would be the loin, uh, and the tenderloin, which are very common muscles, um, of the pig that many people enjoy. And, um, those are a couple of muscles that, um, are, uh, on the, on the backside, uh, running a, along the length of the torso. And it's an area, um, that is lean and also relatively tender. And, um, let me, um, I'll give you just a little, uh, introduction to, to that, uh, that, that area of the body before I, uh, answer more directly your question here, uh, Ingrid. Um, you know, the, the basic, uh, guideline is when it comes to animal meat, animal muscles and, and locations on the body, um, muscles that are not exercised much, and that, uh, will be muscles that are in this torso area very often around the, the, the back. Um, uh, they're just kind of along for the ride. And so they don't, they don't get a lot of exercise. They don't get very tough. They remain relatively tender. Uh, and now another thing is that with the low level of activity, the flavor development is also low. That's why, uh, with something like a pork loin, we will most always serve it with a sauce, because on its own, there's not a tremendous amount of flavor. Okay? Now, if we compare that to the muscles of locomotion, such as the pork butt, which is located right here, uh, it's, it's gonna be, uh, uh, part of the, the shoulder musculature. Uh, there's a lot of, um, uh, activity and a lot of connective tissue that's developed. It's relatively tough and flavorful. And, uh, the way that pigs are raised, at least, uh, in the US there's a, a lot of, um, marbling and, and otherwise, uh, fat developments. And, uh, so those, uh, cuts, you know, they do very well in a dry heat environment, uh, where that, uh, heat can break down the connective tissue, um, ex exposing the, uh, the flavor of, uh, of the muscle while the fat that's present, uh, acts as a, as a lubricant and also a carrier of the flavor, uh, and, and can produce some, some very beautiful meals. But, um, so, um, back to the pork loin and the tenderloin, again, these, um, low fat muscles that can get dried out, uh, very quickly. Okay? So when we come across dry meat, it is due to overcooking. And there are a couple of things, uh, to keep in mind when you're handling pork loin and tenderloin. And, uh, the first thing is, uh, it's, it's gonna be best to, uh, cook those things. Uh, you know, in, uh, uh, we're talking about a dry heat environment that, that typically handle, uh, in the oven. Uh, and you wanna, uh, use a, a, a moderately low temperature, you know, 350 degrees would be the, probably the highest that I would recommend, and you can certainly drop it down from there, you know, to, uh, 3 25 degrees Fahrenheit. Um, if you have the time, you know, 300 degrees, uh, you know, can work as well, uh, that's gonna draw out the cooking time. So you might wanna, uh, practice a bit, uh, to understand, you know, what that, uh, what that balance looks like. And, uh, so what happens if you, if you, uh, put this kind of a muscle into a high heat environment, is that the surface of the meat, uh, will very quickly dry out due to evaporation, okay? And so we're gonna get some toughness on the exterior. Uh, the other thing that happens is, as the, uh, as the muscle heats up, it, it, uh, it starts out slowly, slowly absorbing heat, and then it, as it gets toward the de uh, the degree of doneness, uh, it tends to ramp up pretty quickly. And so, if, if you wanna pull it at a certain point, and that temperature's coming up, coming up, and then starts to shoot up quickly, um, you gotta be really on your toes to, to pull it outta the oven now, in order, uh, to avoid going past that, uh, ideal temperature and experience even further dryness. So there's a couple things going on, um, that, that lead me to, to recommend that, um, cooking at a slightly lower temperature, like, like not 400, not 3 75, consider three 50, uh, perhaps a little bit lower than that, um, you know, degrees Fahrenheit, okay? Uh, the other thing is as, um, meat gets, uh, cooked further, and certainly to the point of being a little overdone, that, uh, change in the molecular structure of the meat, um, pushes out moisture. And, uh, you get this toughening, uh, effect. And, uh, so it's gonna be, uh, first of all, it's possible, okay, uh, to cook both, um, chicken breast and pork loin and tenderloin to the point where, uh, it's just right, it's got, um, moisture, um, which is important for mouthfeel. Uh, it's not overcooked, so it's not, uh, dry and it's been cooked, um, you know, in a, a reasonable temperature environment so that the exterior, uh, isn't chewy either. Okay? Now, in order to mitigate some of this external drying, uh, an old technique is to bard the roast. And, and to bard, uh, means to, um, uh, add or attach thin layers of fat, uh, to the, to the meat. And that, uh, based, uh, the meat while it's roasting. And, uh, today it can be a challenge to get our hands on simply fat. Uh, and so another great, uh, uh, alternative is gonna be slices of bacon. And, uh, then you can just, uh, if, if you're baring with just fat, uh, you'll probably elect to remove that at service time before you fabricate the meat for service. Um, if it's bacon, take a look at it when it comes outta the oven, you can certainly leave it on. Um, if that's gonna be, uh, part of an enhanced presentation, there's certainly gonna be some flavor there. Um, or you might choose to, to remove it, your choice, okay? Um, but, uh, it takes some practice and use a thermometer to check the temperature and ensure that your thumb thermometer is calibrated, okay? Very often we'll have one of these, uh, small, you know, insta read thermometers, uh, which are very convenient. Um, but, um, they go outta whack, um, you know, due to maybe being bumped around or, or, or dropped on the kitchen floor. And so they do need to be calibrated from time to time. And the easiest way to do that, um, is to insert the stem into, uh, a, a, a, a generous cup, uh, or container of ice water. Uh, it needs to have a lot of ice. Uh, so that water can be, uh, you know, brought down to 32 degrees and then stir, you know, with, uh, the stem. Take a look at the dial, and it should read 32 degrees. And if you're off one way or another, go ahead and make that adjustment while the stem is still in the, the ice water, okay? And then that's going to ensure the, the, the most accurate, uh, results when you measure the temperature of your food. Okay? Hopefully that's helpful. Um, have patience with this because, uh, it does take practice and, um, uh, you can get there.
Eric Wynkoop

Eric Wynkoop

Director of Culinary Instruction