The Amada chef offers some foolproof pork-cooking tips.
“You can cook a pork loin or pork tenderloin to medium—people don’t know that,” says the Ecuadorian-American chef, who helms Amada, Distrito, Tinto and more restaurants in Philadelphia and the tristate area. “When you overcook pork, it gets dry and unappealing. It doesn’t have to be that way.”
During a recent dinner at New York’s Amada location, Garces prepared perfectly tender and crispy pork ribs using his favorite technique for the meat—sous vide. The method involves vacuum-sealing food in a plastic pouch, then placing it in a water bath or steam for an extended period.
“The ribs were sous vide for 12 hours, and then they were fried crispy and glazed,” Garces says. “Sous vide is a great technique because it cooks the pork to the right temperature, so the meat gets super tender. I think eventually—maybe ten years from now—everyone will have sous-vide equipment and a vacuum-seal bag in their kitchens. The way we have food processors now.”
Yet, people are often intimidated by cooking pork, and when they do, they overcook it, Garces says. The chef, who recently partnered with Smithfield to promote their new Prime collection, thinks more people should go for pork butt—it’s “pretty hard to mess up” because it’s so marbled and full of fat and flavor.
“That’s another reason people have issues with pork,” he says. “There’s nothing wrong with a little natural fat in your diet. Fat is not the enemy.”
If you’re intimidated by pork butt, which Garces uses for Cuban sandwiches and good old-fashioned BBQ, or even the sous-vide method, he recommends opting for a classic pork chop, simply grilled over charcoal.
“I love pork chop because it takes well to a marinade,” he says. “It gives it so much flavor and pork’s the perfect canvas.” His go-to marinade? Canned chipotle in adobo sauce, which is already packed with vinegar, spices and chilis. “It’s got it all.”