It seems like just about every culture has a tradition with pork, and for good reason. We use a lot of pork at Savoury Kitchen. First of all we have a great local pork butcher who can get us whole hogs, from 40 pounds to 220 all the way to shoulders, ribs, hocks, cheeks and just about everything else you can think of but the blood. We call him and put in our order by Monday, he kills and butchers the pigs on Wednesday, hangs them, and Friday morning we have some great local pork sitting in our kitchen. One of the reasons we love pork so much is it’s versatility. We cure and brine the bellies, smoke them or dry them for bacon and pancetta, we make sausages with scraps and shoulders, use the extra fat for cooking and making game sausages, the trotters, hocks and knuckles get smoked and used in stews or greens, I could go on and on.
Pork is also really affordable, the key is knowing what to do with what parts. Some of the more worked muscles, like the shoulders, hams etc. need to cook for longer at lower temperatures, while cuts like the loin can be grilled at a much higher temp, pretty quickly. Ribs can be tricky, they need the slow and low treatment to break down all that connective tissue to really make them bone suckin’ good. Sausage can be made from pretty much any part of the pig, as long as you make sure your fat to protein ratio is about 30/70. Sausages can be cooked any number of ways, seasoned just about any way you can think of and keep great in the freezer.
And then there is BBQ. I’m talking smoked pig. We use a modified family recipe handed down from my dad. Heavy on the rub, heavy on the smoke (8-12 hours) and then cook it for another 12 hours in a humidity controlled oven at 200 degrees. If the opportunity arises we will do whole hog, but due to logistics we smoke shoulders most of the time. I like this method, although not technically “true” Easten Carolina BBQ, it produces a great ratio of bark (the dark, crispy, super flavorful outside) to “Q” ( the succulent, juicy, fatty inside).
Pork also produces all those great Italian and Spanish cured meats and sausages. We are slowly starting to produce our own cured delicious meats, learning how difficult it is to control humidity in this environment, but until then we have some great product we bring in from the Pacific Northwest.
Why do I try so hard to convince you of the deliciousness of pork? Pork is a gateway food. It wasn’t until I discovered pork that I realized how satisfying it was to get in touch with the food I was cooking, and eating. It’s so easy to go to the grocery store and buy some bacon, a tomato, lettuce and a loaf of bread. It is the most satisfying bite I can think of when you cure and smoke your own bacon, go down to the local farmers market for a tomato and some lettuce, and take a Sunday morning to bake a couple loaves of bread. That sandwich could quite possibly trump any meal you’ve ever had, it did for me.
We are going to be doing 2 cooking classes at No Place Like Home, on Bonanza Drive in November. The first one will focus on different methods for preparing pork. Swine and Wine. We will make some sausages, show pork brining techniques and cook a great bone in loin roast. We will also be talking about making your own bacon at home. The second class will focus on a boneless, stuffed turkey and a couple of sides. I will post the menus and dates when they are finalized.