Emile's Tips for Cooking and Using Heirloom Pastured Pork
Heirloom Pastured Pork is moister than confined or industrial meat because Heirloom Pastured Pigs lead a calm and relaxed life, double that of his confinement kin, and enjoy a complex diet.
Fatback: Fry up like bacon, or mix into beans or greens or salads or pasta sauce.
Shoulder Roasts: This big muscle cut comes out moist every time, especially when smoked and finished low and slow. Brining is not necessary. [However, if you are new to brining I can say that it will give you a culinary status far outweighing the simple process; the meat is infallibly moist and tender, and it works especially well on turkey and chicken. Brine is one gallon water with half cup salt and half cup sugar. The salt/sugar combination can be in whatever form you want, regular salt and sugar, or say soy sauce and honey, teriyaki and apricot jelly. Thaw these pieces for a day in the fridge in the brine, and cook the next day low and slow.] For a pretty appearance, score the roast with a razor in a check formation; that'll give crisp pieces of skin for each serving. Cook for 6-9 hours at about 240F; when that skin looks good and crispy, its done! If you enjoy smoked meat, brine first and smoke second. I think that shoulder roasts taste even better the day after, breaded, sliced and sauteed\browned in a little lard and salt in a skillet, served with slices of lemon.
Chops: No need for fancy prep here, these pigs are naturally flavorful and moist. The molecular structure of pork is different than beef; it does not want to be heated up and seared as quickly as a piece of beef. So, grilling over coals is best, gas grill second best, skillet on the oven a distant third. Drop salted chops onto medium hot grill until the meat firms up (don't poke it with forks and such), flip it once with tongs (don't move it around more than twice per side for grillmarks if you want that crusty caramelization on the outside, a little beer poured over helps caramelize, too) then let it rest for five minutes in the pan off the flame. In the same time you can make rice and steam vegetables, makes a great weeknight dinner or weekend supper with friends and family. Super moist and tender meat.
If you like to marinate, try sesame oil and hoisin sauce, (great for beef as well) cut into strips for Asian presentation. Don't overcook pork chops (or hams), you can reach the safe temperature without turning all the meat white by removing the meat ten degrees below (140) your target temperature (150); the meat will continue to cook after you remove it from the heat source. Chops need to be slightly pink in the middle.
Neckbones, hocks, feet: flavor flavor flavor. If you have a crock pot or tend the oven for an afternoon, these pieces add serious depth and nutrition to soups and stews. The neck meat is super tender, but has a lot of bones so can be cooked separate at first to loosen it up, then
easy to remove bones.
Lilot's Heirloom Pastured Pork Shoulder:
Brine pork shoulder in a solution of brown sugar and kosher salt for 8-10 hours (Lilot uses about ¼ cup of each per gallon…but it’s not exact)
Rub in spice mix of equal parts powdered chile ancho, cumin, paprika and ½ part salt, with cayenne pepper to taste
Put pan of soaked wood chips on grill. When they begin to smoke, put pork shoulder on grill. Setting should be on low.
Cook for 6-7 hours on low, making sure chips continue smoking. Let rest for 15 minutes. The shoulder should be somewhat pink inside.
Slice and dig in.
Lilot's Heirloom Pastured Pork Chops:
Brine, as above
Rub with spice mixture, as above
Sear for two minutes on each side in hot fry pan
Roast in oven at 450 degrees for 8-9 minutes
Let rest for 15 minutes, and serve.