Picture: Landbrug & Fødevarer

Picture: Landbrug & Fødevarer

Discover the perfect accompaniment to pork

A taste wheel is now available to help distinguish the various flavour nuances of pork. The next step is to see which accompaniments complement pork to achieve the perfect combination. A study was recently carried out to investigate.

Pork contains over 600 different flavour nuances and each cut has its own flavour profile. These flavour differences are also enhanced by the accompaniments served with the meat. In other words, there are many different factors that affect the taste experience when pork is on the menu.

The basic principle of combining food is that the more flavour nuances that different foods have in common, the more they are likely to complement each other. 'Character impact compounds' are an important element in the flavours industry and denote the key flavours in a raw material. If two raw materials have the same flavour character, there is good reason to think that they will complement each other well. In terms of taste, pork has a lot in common with mushrooms, cream, cabbage, potatoes – both baked and boiled – almonds, milk, cloves, Cheddar cheese, peanuts, butter and apple.

Read also: A flavour-filled 2019

Taste specialist finds good combinations
The Danish Agriculture & Food Council has therefore engaged a sensory and taste flavour specialist, Lisbeth Ankersen, to carry out a flavour study of various accompaniments with four different parts of the pig. Based on her own sensory experiences, literature and chemical analysis, Lisbeth Ankersen has tested various flavour combinations with the following cuts: pigs’ cheeks, roast pork, gammon and fried pork.

Sous vide with pigs’ cheeks
Lisbeth Ankersen discovered that the sous vide method of cooking pigs’ cheeks (low temperature long cooking time) goes well with mashed root vegetables, cream sauce, fried mushrooms, hazelnut oil and pancetta, and that an oatmeal coating complements this cut of meat well. The flavour of chicken and game stock also sets off the flavour of pork cheeks.

Braised pig cheeks
For braised pig cheeks, parsnips, leeks, onions and seaweed pesto received the highest marks while Lisbeth Ankersen found that barley also went well with pigs’ cheeks. As accompaniments, milk received top marks, but stout, oat drink and crushed bacon rind were also found to work well. The following should definitely not be combined with pigs’ cheeks: orange juice and trout roe.

Roast pork
In terms of roast pork, cloves and bay leaves are great for flavouring as they enhance the taste. According to Lisbeth Ankersen, boiled parsnips and baked beetroots are perfect combinations with this type of meat. Red Szechuan pepper, fennel seeds and almonds also work well as seasoning. Milk also gets top marks followed by oat drink and light ale. However, a dark ale has an overly dominating taste of honey.

Read our previous article about this topic: Pork has more than 90 taste nuances

Braised gammon
Braised gammon works well with juniper, pumpkin, white cabbage and barley cooked in stout. Hazelnuts and apple are also a good combination. Milk receives top marks with this meat too. Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, raspberry juice brings out the floral nuances of the meat.

Fried pork
Fried pork with goat’s cheese, crushed cloves and star anise, garam masala, kale, pumpkin and apple with cinnamon are excellent bed-fellows. Orange juice mixed with ginger goes well as does Oolong tea (a semi-fermented tea) which does not dominate the dish.

However, what works in theory does not always work in practice, which is why a little trial and error is required. Basically, it’s all about subjective taste experience and objective facts. Even if a professional flavour expert like Lisbeth Ankersen has put forward her opinion, it is only a guide. Use her research for inspiration when preparing your Christmas pork – and enjoy!

If you would like to hear more about the project, please contact Chief Consultant, Vickie Enné Ryge, vkr@lf.dk.