During trying times it is always good to try to eat healthy!!
Some of my favorite foods…let’s start with pork!!
I know that all of us have favorite foods and is one of mine and John’s is pork….and yes I will try to take the mystery out of where it comes from and how it is processed.
How much do you know about how a hog is processed and where the different cuts from? Being a city girl I thought pork came from the grocery store or the local butcher. I honestly did not give much thought on where the meat came from and never thought how it was grown, processed and packaged. Fast forward to 2020 and after ten years in farming I can now tell you how the hog is grown, harvested and packaged. Yes the pork in your supermarket, farmers market or butcher comes from a farmer that spent many months raising it and bring it to market.
This week I would like to talk about some of the most popular cuts that I use in so many recipes. Who doesn’t love Bacon, Fresh Belly, Spare Ribs (including Baby Back Ribs) and Pork Butt or Shoulder. Yes you can guess that there will be another blog on other cuts, which are also my favorites.
Bacon: Bacon is cut from the belly and side, from just underneath the ribs. You can have it processed into slices or leave it in a slab. If you have your bacon cut into a slab, remove the rind before cooking. You can then make “cracklings,” or fried bacon rinds, for a crispy, crunchy, and flavorful treat.
Here at Circle B Ranch, we love bacon, so we offer several bacon products: Circle B Ranch Hickory Smoked Pepper Bacon, Uncured (Nitrite-Free) Bacon, and “For the Love of Bacon”—our triple bacon package. We also have numerous bacon recipes posted to the website that can give you some new ideas for cooking your bacon.
The Belly: The underside of the pig after the loin and spare ribs are removed; this cut is very popular in restaurants, and it is great for slow-cooking recipes since the meat comes out exceptionally tender.
Pasture-fed pork, fresh veggies, and white wine make this roast recipe mouth-watering good.
Spare Ribs: The largest and meatiest ribs, they are full of flavor. They are larger and heavier than Baby Back Ribs. There are thousands of spare-rib recipes out there; I have a few here on the Circle B Ranch website that are delicious.
One of the simplest ways to cook them is to start them in the oven. First, liberally salt and pepper 2 racks of ribs. Wrap them tightly with aluminum foil and roast them in a 275° oven for 2-3 hours or until fork tender (this time is optimal for baby-back ribs and may be adjusted for spare ribs). Then, place the ribs on a hot grill and slather with Big John’s BBQ sauce. Grill on both sides for 5-7 minutes, basting with BBQ sauce as needed. Serve with extra sauce on the side and enjoy the taste of grilled ribs with only a quarter of the work!!
Pork shoulder or butt: The pork shoulder, also referred to as the butt, is the base for shoulder and pork steaks.
Now you might be thinking, wait a minute; If it comes from the shoulder why is it called a Butt? The term has been used for ages. Back in colonial times, New England butchers would put less desirable, or less purchased, meat cuts into barrels for storage and to simplify transportation. This practice gave the cut its name because the barrels were called butts, and the shoulder cut was eventually viewed as a New England specialty. Thus, the Boston Butt was born.
A well-marbled cut, the Butt can be cooked long and slow. As you cook the Boston butt, especially one from a Circle B Ranch Berkshire hog, it will become tender and deliciously flavorful. The Butt may be smoked, as John and I like to do on occasion, but you can also slow cook it in the oven on 300 degrees. Either way, you get a succulent piece of meat that you can turn into a great tasting pulled pork dish. And, of course, it tastes great with Big John’s BBQ Sauce!
Some of my favorite pork putt or shoulder recipes:
One of our favorite is the delicious Asian Braised Pork Shoulder recipe. My family loves it, and they think it is one of the best pork shoulder recipes I have ever made! This dish, adapted from an Anne Burrell recipe, will definitely satisfy any craving for oriental food.
One of my favorite pulled pork recipes is Slow Cooker Apple Juice Pulled Pork. Easy (and you know how I like easy) to prepare and so delicious to devour. Any leftovers can be used the next night for Pulled Pork Ragu over rigatoni pasta. Enjoy!!
Remember here at Circle B Ranch we are all about simple yet delicious food. I know that life keeps everyone busy and I would like to be able to provide you with the knowledge you need to make your buying and cooking choices easier. Cooking for your family does not need to be a chore!! So go in the kitchen and enjoy yourself!!