Q: Sometimes I see pork at the supermarket labeled as “enhanced.” What does that mean, exactly?
A: Because modern pork has been bred to be so lean, it is prone to dryness when cooked. To counter this problem, many pork producers are now selling what is called enhanced pork, which is pork injected with a solution of water, salt, and other additives that help flavor the meat and keep it moist during cooking.
After tasting both enhanced and un-enhanced pork side by side, we found that while the enhanced pork was juicier and more tender, the un-enhanced pork had more genuine pork flavor. We also found that enhanced pork can leach juice that inhibits browning and makes for salty pan sauces.
Our recommendation is to look for un-enhanced pork and brine it at home. To tell if the pork you are buying is enhanced, check the label; pork containing additives must be labeled as such, with a list of ingredients. If you cannot find un-enhanced pork, then use the enhanced product—just be sure to hold back on seasoning (as advised in our recipe for Easy Stuffed Pork Loin, below), and definitely don’t brine it.