Monday, January 30, 2006
Helen over at Beyond Salmon made herself some pork butt recently, and seeing her picture made me start obsessing about pork. You see,
I had used up the last of my Tamworth about two months ago. What to do? First, I called my favorite pig farmer, Jeffrey from Mamashoe World Headquarters. God bless him, he was willing not only to sell me a whole bunch of pig at the "whole pig" price, but he was willing to drop it off in the city. Now I only had to wait a few days for my pork.
So of course I broke down and went to Whole Foods. How could I wait a few days?
The pork above is organic, but not pastured. There's definitely a difference. This pork was good, but the fat was not edible on its own. I can't even tell you how good the pastured Tamworth pig fat is. I probably shouldn't be confessing publicly that I eat the fatty bits all by themselves, but if you only knew how good they were, you would understand. Still, this pork was pretty good, mostly because it's hard to go wrong with a Boston Butt.
My favorite cut of pork is probably the shoulder, which has the deep flavor of the butt, but without quite the fat. The butt's pretty good, though a bit fatty if you can't cook it slow and low over an open flame. The loin is useless, at least if you're buying at the grocery store.
At the end of my college-vegetarian period, I started cooking meat for the first time, and I was confused about pork roasts. I kept going to the store and asking for the best pork roast. Of course, I was given the loin, and I could never understand why it didn't taste like the roasts my grandmother used to make. Turns out that the "best" in American standards means the blandest meat, like the breasts of turkey and chicken. Once I figured out shoulders, butts and fresh hams, I was in business.
I cooked the butt above using a variation of a recipe from Please to the Table. Of course, the original recipe is for goose, and the "stuffing" it is roasted on includes green cabbage and apple cider. I used pork, no cabbage, and beer, but I retained the paprika/caraway rub and the mix of sauerkraut, prunes, and apples. This is peasant food, anyway - it will hold up to endless variation. Which is good, because soon I'll have a couple shoulders and a couple butts to play with...