A Chef Explains Why You Should Never Trim Your Pork Before Slow Cooking

When it comes to slow-cooking pork, there's one key question to address before you start: Should you trim the fat beforehand? To find out, Tasting Table spoke with an expert: Rich Parente, the chef and owner of Clock Tower Grill in Brewster, New York.

For any cut of pork, Parente says, "Fat adds great flavor to the dish, so I wouldn't trim the fat before cooking." However, that doesn't mean you have to end up with a fatty finished dish if that's not what you want. Parente continues, "You can always skim off the fat from the finished product after all of the flavors come together during the cooking process." By keeping the fat attached to the meat when slow-cooking, the fat will slowly seep into the rest of the meat, making for a more flavorful final product.

You want to place the pork fat side up in the slow cooker, which will give you the best results and make it easier to remove the fat after the fact. Additionally, as the pork slowly cooks, the pot will fill up with extra fatty liquid as the meat cooks down, which ultimately helps to keep the pork moist instead of drying out. If you get rid of the fat before the cooking process, the meat will definitely end up drier and lacking flavor, so make sure to keep that fat attached. 

How to remove the fat after slow cooking

With the pork all done cooking, you can now remove the fat — there are a few methods to do this. One option is to simply use a spoon or ladle to scoop any visible fat or fatty liquid out of the slow cooker. Or, you can grab a slice of bread and gently place it on top of the pork to soak up all of the fat; move the bread around until you've covered the surface and soaked up most of the fat — just keep in mind that the bread will get hot very quickly, so you may want to use tongs for this method. You can even save the pork fat for another use instead of throwing it out — the fat can be used to make gravy, cook up flavorful fried eggs, or even upgrade your sandwich bread

Finally, once the fat is taken care of, it's time to dig in and enjoy. Slow-cooked pork is perfect for a pulled pork sandwich with homemade barbecue sauce or al pastor tacos. You can even top a helping of mac and cheese with pulled pork.