Thursday, March 8, 2012

Orgasm on a Plate

Those of you who know me well, and those of you who read carefully, may have come to realize that I enjoy pork.  Also, enjoy might be an understatement.  In fact, I am turning 30 this month, and I am having a pork theme party.  Really.

I didn't used to like pork.

I'm not sure that statement is fair.  I didn't used to like the thing that was put on my plate and that I was told was pork.  Sorry mom.  Sorry dad.  But that grey meat with the brightly colored juice in the shrink wrap bag is NOT pork.  It's not.

There has been a lot of change in pork production over the years.  Yes.  Production.  Grocery store pork, just like grocery store beef, comes from factory farms.  And what pork eats and how it lives, like any meat, plays the main role.  According to ABC News in 2006, the average amount of fat in pork has decreased 27% "over the past 10 years" (math... that would be... 2006 - 10 years = 1996).  According to Alton Brown in my cookbook, it's 15% over 15 years.  Either way, there's less fat.  Which is great if you're dieting.  But, if you like good food and you know anything about cooking, you know that fat = flavor.  And right now, grocery store pork has about the same fat content as a boneless skinless chicken breast.

Again, a boneless, skinless chicken breast is fine.  If it's in a taco.  Or breaded and fried, then smothered in mushrooms in some chicken Marsala.  Or topped with bacon in a sandwich.  Delicious, crispy, fatty bacon.

I'd like to have time to research this more, but I don't.  The point is, in my opinion, pork should taste like pork, not like crappy pork chicken.  And if fat is flavor, then pork needs fat to taste like pork.  And it needs to root around for food in the outdoors.  Because happy food tastes better.

Like this.  This was happy food.  The food was happy.  The husband was happy.  I was happy.  Quite, quite happy.

Anyone who watches any sort of cooking/food show has probably seen something about beef or veal cheeks.  They're fancy.  They've got them at fancy restaurants, so they must be fancy!

So, when the pork people at the Winter Farmer's Market gave me that secret, insider look and said "we have pork cheeks," I bought them all.  That is to say, I bought all four of them, which was still far less than a pound.  Pork, I guess, are not chipmunks.  They do not have big chubby cheeks.

They should.  Because pork cheeks are delicious.

When talking about buying your meat, Alton Brown says the tenderist part is furthest from the horn and the hoof.  What that means is, the more work the muscles do (like walking, or holding the head up), the tougher the meat.

But tough meat isn't bad.  "Tough meat," when cooked properly, is delicious, and not at all tough.  Slow cooked, fall off the bone tender... if you had a bone.  I didn't get the cheek bone...

And this.  This... this was the best slow cooked meat I have ever had.  Seriously.  No lie.  I almost couldn't get it out of the crock pot in one piece, it was so tender.  The fat and connective tissue had turned to a smooth, creamy, porky jello.  I love slow cooked meat.  I might love slow cooked meat more than I love grilled meat... maybe.  Anyway, I'm fairly certain this is the best thing I've ever made ever.


In my basket, I had a jar of yellow tomato chutney.  I realized I hadn't tried it since I made it, and really I had no idea what it tasted like.

It tasted like delicious.  Acidy, curry-y, spicy delicious.  With melt in your mouth tender, flavorful, fatted but not fatty pork.

The best think I've ever made ever.

Too bad there are only two cheeks per pig.

Pork Cheeks Braised in Yellow Tomato Chutney

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 pork cheeks
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 shallot, sliced thinly
  • 2 large cloves garlic, smashed and minced
  • 1 pint yellow tomato chutney (no recipe for this now... but I'll have on next fall I promise.  You could probably use any tomato based sauce - preferably spicy.)
  • 1/4 cup white wine
In a large pan over medium high heat, heat the olive oil until hot.  Season the pork cheeks on both sides with salt and pepper.  Brown cheeks on both sides, and transfer to a slow cooker.  Add shallots to pan and saute until soft.  Add the garlic to the pan and continue to cook about 3 more minutes.  Add wine and deglaze the pan.  Pour contents of pan and chutney over the cheeks in the slow cooker, and cook on low for nine hours.

Pork Cheeks in a Pan

1 comment:

  1. I can honestly say I've never tried pork cheeks. Didn't even know you could buy such a thing!