I know it’s been a while in coming, but here it is—the next installment of our pork cuts series. Today I’d like to talk about the front portion of the hog, specifically the shoulder and the shank.
Let’s begin with the pork shoulder, also referred to as the butt, which 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!
And now I’ll list a few pulled pork recipes for you to try:
Berkshire Pulled Pork with Homemade Baked Beans & Corn BreadSlow Cooker Apple Juice Pulled PorkSlow Cooker Pork for Carnitas
And if you don't want to go the pulled pork route, I also have a 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.
Moving on to the Shank, it is cut from the lower portion of a hog’s leg. This tender meat is often braised. I have a recipe for Braised Circle B Pork Shanks that is exceptionally tasty.
I also like to use my pork shanks to prepare Berkshire Pork Osso Bucco. While this traditional Italian dish is usually prepared with Veal shanks, I found that preparing it with pork gives the meal a robust flavor. This recipe, originally from “The Joy of Cooking,” is so easy that you’ll love it!
Up next, look for the following installment of this series, which will be all about the Ham. We all love it, but most people consider ham to be a strictly holiday dish. But should ham be only for holidays? I’ll give you some recipes to flavor up your holiday hams, and give you some ham recipes for your everyday fare.
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So, what is the paleo-diet? I’m sure most of you have heard of it by now, but for those of you who haven’t—here goes. The Paleo Diet is essentially a diet, or eating trend, that is based on our primal beginnings. In other words, if a caveman wouldn’t have eaten it during his time, you shouldn’t put it in your mouth. The goal is to eat more nutritious fare, avoid sugars and processed foods, and to become healthier, trimmer, and more wholesome in mind and body.
To get healthier, fitter, and leaner, you are going to put aside all those cakes, cheeses, and salty foods. No midnight snacks of milk and cookies. When you start a Paleo diet, you are returning to a meat and veggie-based diet. Those following the Paleo path take the “whole animal” approach—they can consume meat, bones, marrow, and cartilage. Animal products, such as eggs and honey, are still edible. Veggies, fruits, raw nuts, seeds, and added fats (coconut oil and etc.) are standard foodstuffs.
The idea is to eat more naturally and to dodge all the food that is ultimately bad for our figures and our health. Sounds great so far, right? John and I both recognize the positive aspects of the Paleo diet. We grow our own pasture-raised hogs, we use all-natural ingredients in our products, and we prefer to eat unprocessed foods. In fact, our diets are fueled by a high amount of fruits, veggies, and naturally raised beef and pork. On the other hand, we don’t neglect our grains.
While the Paleo diet is a wonderful base for any meal, I personally feel that you have to look at the whole table. The health benefits of the Paleo diet are tremendous, I must admit. Overall, people, as a whole, consume too many processed foods that adversely affect their health. Naturally grown meats, veggies, and fruits provide many necessary nutrients. On the other hand, fully eliminating dairy from your diet can lead to deficiencies in Calcium and Vitamin D. Paleo also denies grains, even whole grains, which are essential for our bodies because they provide complex carbohydrates vital to brain and muscle function.
Yet, the downsides of a paleo diet can be overcome. The key is to prepare a balanced table. Choose your meats, your fruits, and your veggies wisely. Hand-pick your meat based on quality; pasture-raised animals such as the hogs we raise here at Circle B Ranch are healthier for consumption, and they are higher in Vitamin D than store-bought meats. The animals are fed all-natural diets, there are no additional hormones or antibiotics, and they are processed minimally. In fact, nitrite-free—or unprocessed—bacon, which we also provide, is a perfect breakfast component for a Paleo or Paleo-based diet.
If you don’t want to consume dairy, be nifty and select a veggie that is high in Calcium. The vegetables in this category include your leafy greens such as spinach, kale, arugula, and collard greens. Cooked cabbage and Butternut squash are high in Calcium as well. For Vitamin D, you may want to eat pasture-raised pork, Portabella mushrooms, tofu, soy milk, or almond milk. If you want to eat grains, concentrate on whole grains, and you may decide to bake your own breads to control the amount of included sugars. You can also portion these edibles to ensure that you eat just the right amount of complex carbohydrates.
So, what is the right choice? Pro-Paleo or Team Skip It? The answer is up to you. How healthy do you want to eat? The decision is ultimately yours; neither John or I can determine how you eat. But we can promise our pasture-raised pork will always be here for your Paleo, or non-Paleo, needs.
And for those of you who would like more information about the Paleo Diet, here are some wonderful additional resources:
http://share.upmc.com/2016/04/pros-cons-paleo-diet/http://www.healthline.com/health/caveman-diet#1 [ ... ]
Marina's Cranberry Chutney has been a staple for us as far back as I can remember. It compliments not only pork but beef, chicken, oatmeal and I have been known to pair it with goat cheese for a quick appetizer! Not only is it easy to make, it keeps in the refrigerator very well and it's healthy. The main ingredient is obviously cranberries but it also has oranges, onions and spices!
You always hear how great cranberries are for you, so I did a little reading and wanted to share what I found with all of my fellow cranberry lovers!
Eating whole cranberries have shown to offer a greater health and dietary benefit then consuming them in a liquid or dietary supplement; that is due to they are broken down and only the extract is used. Cranberries are most beneficial when the entire berry is consumed not just one component, because when whole they offer more cardiovascular, antioxidant, anti-cancer, and anti-inflammatory benefits.
Cranberries have Vitamin C and fiber.
Cranberries are Gluten Free!
They have more antioxidants then spinach, strawberries, cherries, red grapes, broccoli, apples, raspberries. One of the only berries that out ranks cranberries are blueberries!
Phytonutrients are naturally derived plant compounds that include antioxidants. Antioxidants can be ingested and are also made by the human body to help stabilize free radicals which are harmful molecules.
Cranberries may also provide a level of protection against age related conditions such as memory and coordination loss.
Other benefits from being high in antioxidants are that they help strengthen your immune system and prevents dental problems.
Cranberries have a high level of flavonoids. They are a concentrated antioxidant that inhibits low density lipoprotein (LDL) from forming. Now if anyone has every gotten their blood drawn, they know what LDLs are...bad cholesterol! A diet high in fruits and vegetables that are high on the antioxidant list, like cranberries are, you have a better chance of having a lower cholesterol count. Having a lower LDL count, not only helps liver function, heart function and also assists in inhibiting the build up of plaque along your blood vessels!
Proanthocyanidins: PACs act as a barrier along the lining of urinary tract to block bacteria from adhering. The type of bacteria they block is what causes urinary tract infections. Cranberries may also help in aiding to help men and women that suffer from stomach ulcers. In the same manner that they block bacteria in the urinary tract, they may also help block Helibacter Pylori (H.Pylori) which causes stomach ulcers.
I have made dozens of meatloaf recipes and most of the time it comes out like a lump of lead! It was embarrassing sometimes! I think I am a really good chef make great dishes, but meatloaf has never been one of my best…until last night!
Big John loves stuffed meatloaf. I have made it many times and I have never been happy with the results. I have stuffed them with hard boiled eggs, pignoli nuts, raisins and more, but I would not share those recipes with you. However, this stuffed meatloaf is definitely on my list of recipes I would repeat.
1 lb. Ground Beef (Pastured Raised and Antibiotic Free)
1/2 Cup Panko Bread Crumbs
1 cup Pecorino Romano Cheese
3 oz. prosciutto
3 oz. Fresh Mozzarella
4 medium Red Potatoes
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Black Pepper
Fresh flat leaf parsley
6 cloves garlic minced
1 jar Marina’s Tomato Sauce
1 Large Onion
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Slice the potatoes in wedges and put aside.
Prepare the tomato sauce: Add 3 tbs of the EVOO and the sliced onion. Saute the onion until it becomes translucent and add the jar of tomato sauce. Let it cook for about 15 minutes and set aside.
In a large bowl add the ground pork and beef, minced garlic, bread crumbs, Romano Cheese, eggs, 3 tbs of EVOO and 5 tbs of the Tomato sauce. Mix everything together very well.The meat mixture will be very loose.
In a large roasting pan, put a thin layer of tomato sauce. Place the meat mixture to the pan and spread it long way and make a long valley in the center.
Lay the prosciutto slices, followed by the sticks of mozzarella and several springs of parsley.
Take the meat mixture and fold it over the center of the stuffing covering the prosciutto and mozzarella.
Add the potato wedge. Ladle the remainder of the tomato sauce over the meatloaf and add a generous sprinkle of the romano cheese over the meatloaf and the potatoes.
Bake for 1 hour at 450 degrees. Serve with a tossed green salad. Enjoy!
Circle B Ranch Berkshire Pork Belly! What could be better? Talk about comfort food!
You will get more than one meal out of this recipe.
You would think that we get to eat all of the best cuts of pork. Not true! Our best cuts are kept for our loyal customers, so how happy do you think I was to find a half a pork belly deep in one of our freezers? I literally jumped for joy and scurried right into the house to look up a tasty recipe. If you had asked me a few years ago if I would have cooked a pork belly, I probably would have said no. I have always liked Anne Burrell, and her recipes are relatively easy. I find they come out really, really tasty!
For the dry rub
2 tablespoons Kosher Salt
2 tablespoons dry mustard powder
2 tablespoons mustard seeds
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons rosemary
2 garlic cloves, smashed and finely chopped
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
4 lbs fresh pork belly skin on
For the Pork Belly
Extra virgin olive oil
2 ribs of celery julienned
1 fennel bulb tough middle discarded and remaining bulb julienned
2 garlic cloves smashed and finely chopped
Pinch crushed red pepper
1 cup white wine
1/4 cup whole-grain mustard
2–3 cups chicken stock
3 bay leaves
For the dry rub
Combine all the ingredients in a bowl. Massage the rub all over the pork belly, then cover and refrigerate for 24 hours.
For the pork belly
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Remove the belly from the refrigerator. Coat a large straight-sided pan with oil and put over medium-high heat. Add the onion, celery and fennel.
Season the vegetables with crushed red pepper and salt to taste. Cook the vegetables until they start to soften and become very aromatic about 8 to 10 minutes.
Add the wine and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the mustard and 2 cups of the chicken stock. Taste to make sure it is delicious.
Add the pork belly and toss in the thyme and bay leaves. Cover and put in the preheated oven. Braise for 3-4 hours, checking occasionally.
If the liquid level goes down, add some more stock. Rotate the pan as you cook the belly.
At the end, the belly will be falling apart. Remove the lid and turn the heat up to 375 degrees F. That will help brown the skin and make it really succulent.
Remove the pan from the over and transfer the belly from the braising liquid to a cutting board. Cut the belly into equal portions and top with the braising liquid.
“So I bought a pig. Now what do I do with it?” If you are asking yourself this question, this series of articles is for you. I will discuss not only the processing of the various cuts, but I will also highlight various ways to cook the cuts once you have them. These articles are also very helpful for anyone who would like to know how to cook the various cuts of a Berkshire hog. [ ... ]