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Pork is one of the simplest and most economical cuts of meat to barbecue, says Steven Raichlen, author of “How to Grill.” Cheaper than steak and easier to keep juicy than chicken breasts, pork’s primary downfall is that many of the best cuts for cooking on the grill are also high in fat. While some drips away from the meat during the barbecuing process, it’s healthier to remove some fat by trimming prior to cooking and to use techniques designed to keep the meat moist and tender with less surface fat.
The bone side of pork ribs have a tough, silvery membrane that covers a layer of fat. According to AmazingRibs.com, removing the membrane before barbecuing allows the fat to melt away from the meat. To remove the membrane, use a butter knife or ice pick to separate part of it from the bones it covers. When the separation is large enough, insert your hand, grasp the membrane and gently peel it off of the ribs. Use a sharp knife to trim off as much of the fat from both sides of the ribs as possible.
Pork tenderloin is one of the leanest cuts of pork available, though you can make it more so by trimming and discarding all of the visible surface fat. Tenderloin also has a strip of connective tissue that should be removed — along with the surrounding fat — before barbecuing. Insert the tip of a small, sharp knife under one edge of the tissue, moving it around to separate the membrane from the rest of the tenderloin. Hold the tissue with one hand; with the other, use the knife to cut the rest of the membrane away from the meat. Once the membrane has been removed, trim off any remaining fat.
Pork chops don’t dry out as easily as boneless, skinless chicken breasts on the grill because they have more fat. But you can trim the fat off of chops — it’s mainly in a thick strip around the edges — without sacrificing juiciness by choosing thick cuts and brining them before barbecuing. Use boneless or bone-in pork chops that are at least 3/4-inch-thick. After removing as much surface fat as you can, marinate the chops overnight in a brine mixture that contains approximately 6 cups of water, 2 tablespoons of kosher salt and 1/4 cup of vinegar for every six chops. Pat the meat dry with paper towels before grilling.
When it comes to barbecuing pork shoulder, you need to trim the surface fat to let the seasonings penetrate the meat, but leave enough to give the finished dish flavor. To do so, the website recommends first removing as much of the thick layer of fat that typically covers one side of a pork shoulder cut as possible. Then, cut off as much excess surface fat as you can find, including any membranes that may be on parts of the meat. With the surface fat removed, the fat contained on the inside of the meat will be enough to give the meat tenderness and flavor.