Pork’s versatility is unmatched when it comes to the flavour combinations that complement the meaty protein.
Pork’s versatility ranges from sweet all the way to savoury when it comes to flavour combinations that bring out the best in pork dishes. Whether you prefer to go the traditional route when it comes to flavour combinations or mix things up with a few unique flavour twists, pork can be enjoyed at any time of year!
To start off, it’s always important to season any cut of meat with salt. Salt enhances pork’s natural flavour and the other flavours you add to the dish.
Herbs and spices
Pork can be brined, smoked, marinated or liberally sprinkled with an array of herbs and spices before, during and, in some cases, even after cooking.
Starting with the classics, garlic can be used in just about any pork dish. Whether you prefer to use fresh, dried, or even powdered garlic, they all enhance pork’s naturally delicious flavour profile.
Some spices that are guaranteed to add moreish flavour to pork-based dishes include paprika, smoked paprika, allspice, cumin, ginger, coriander seeds, fennel seeds, caraway seeds, cayenne pepper and speciality mixes such as Chinese five-spice (typically a mix of star anise, fennel, cloves, cinnamon and Sichuan peppercorns).
MUST-TRY RECIPE: Tomato trotters with beans and potatoes
There are so many herbs, both dried and fresh, that work well with pork. Rosemary, thyme, sage, bay leaves, chives, parsley, coriander, mint, fennel, oregano, basil and even lemongrass are all flavours that can be added to pork dishes. Soft, fresh herbs can also be used as a garnish to add a final fresh touch to meaty pork dishes. Always remember to use dried herbs sparingly, as you don’t want to overpower the flavour of the pork.
If you enjoy a bit of heat, chilli complements pork well. Fresh, dried or powdered chilli will all add a kick to your favourite pork dishes.
Fruit and vegetables
Pork pairs beautifully with both sweet, fruity flavours and savoury flavours. Classic roast pork dinners are almost always served with apple sauce on the side, and gammon is often finished with a lush sticky-sweet glaze. You can even cook pork with sweet fruit flavours like apples, pears, blueberries, cranberries, raisins, oranges, almost any stone fruit, dates and even pineapple. Pork dishes that have the perfect balance between sweet and savoury flavours are often the most satisfying.
Never underestimate the power of savoury items like onions, carrots, celery, tomatoes, potatoes, peppers and beans when cooking a protein-packed pork dish. They can easily make up the base or sauce for many delicious pork dishes.
Due to pork’s versatility, it’s the perfect ingredient to get creative with! Some of our top picks include umami-rich miso or soy sauce, mustard, honey, maple or golden syrup, brown sugar, chutney, apricot jam, marmalade, red or white wine, sherry, brandy, balsamic vinegar and even walnuts or macadamia nuts.
MUST-TRY RECIPE: Pork pot with chutney sauce
Looking for more recipe inspiration? Head to the SA Pork website.