Finding local supplier puts pork back on the menu
There was a time not too long ago when people knew exactly where their food originated.
I remember as a kid getting farm eggs from my dad's relatives, Fred and Irene Teal, who lived near Euclid, Minn. I also recall that once or twice, Dad bought some live chickens from a farmer he knew.
And back then, it also wasn't unusual to buy a half-side of beef or pork from the local meat market that was raised in the immediate area by someone the butcher knew.
These days, it's harder to make purchases such as that, but it's not impossible.
Not too long ago, I bought 30 to 35 pounds of bison (ground and roasts) from Doug Earl of Siouxland Buffalo Ranch west of Grand Forks. And in November, Therese and I secured a half-pig (raised, butchered and wrapped in Park River, N.D.) that came from a relative of friend and co-worker, Eric Hylden.
Over the years, we've become big fans of bison meat, but I have to admit, we hadn't consumed a lot of pork -- with the exception of some tasty bacon from a Westby, Mont., friend of mine and a few racks of baby back ribs (from L&M Meats in Grand Forks) to go with our homemade sauerkraut.
Both Therese and I like pork, but she is not that high on eating meat from pigs that have been reared commercially on a "factory farm" and are loaded with antibiotics before they are shipped to market.
But when she found out the pork we could buy from Ken Hylden of Park River was from "happy pigs" -- ones that were reared on a farm where they were allowed to roam freely in a barn until slaughter -- she was all for it.
Pork is popular in the United States. "The other white meat" ranks third in annual U.S. meat consumption, behind beef and chicken, averaging 51 pounds per person, although per-capita consumption has declined sharply in the past several years due primarily to strong pork export growth.
One of the reasons it has become so popular is that the pork industry has worked hard to dispel the meat's reputation as a fatty protein.
That was bolstered in 2006 by a U.S. Department of Agriculture study that stated that six common cuts of fresh pork are leaner today than they were in the early 1990s -- on average about 16 percent lower in total fat and 27 percent lower in saturated fat.
In addition, pork tenderloin is now as lean as skinless chicken breast. The study found a 3-ounce serving of pork tenderloin contains only 2.98 grams of fat, whereas a 3-ounce serving of skinless chicken breast contains 3.03 grams of fat.
Therese and I have been extremely happy with the pork we purchased. We've already sampled the chops (in a tasty homemade barbecue sauce), a smoked ham (our New Year's Day dinner) and some of the sausage (mixed with bison and made into meatballs).
And there are a few other recipes I can't wait to try. One is from Mike Pokrzywinski, for a glazed pork roast, which comes highly recommended. Another -- for breaded pork cutlets -- was delicious when we dined our friends, Lillian Elsinga and Boyd Wright. (The cutlets were served with some tasty Brussels sprouts and hot German potato salad.)
Finally, I have still the ham bone-- with some meat on it -- in the freezer that soon will become part of a tasty bean soup.
Now, all I wish we had was some of those farm-fresh eggs to go with our bacon.
Jeff Tiedeman is the food editor at the Grand Forks Herald, a publication of Forum News Service.
Pork Roast with Spicy Cranberry Orange Glaze
5-pound pork loin center rib roast (with bone)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ cup sweet orange marmalade
½ cup dried cranberries, chopped
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2½ teaspoons Tabasco brand Original Red Sauce
Rosemary sprigs for garnish
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sprinkle pork roast with salt and ground ginger. Place pork roast, fat-side up, in large roasting pan. Insert meat thermometer into center of roast, being careful that pointed end of thermometer does not touch bone. Roast 2 to 2½ hours until thermometer reaches 155 to 160 degrees.
Meanwhile, combine orange marmalade, cranberries, mustard and Tabasco Sauce in medium bowl. Brush pork roast with mixture after 1 hour, brushing occasionally with mixture every 15 minutes.
Remove roast to a platter. Cover loosely with foil; let stand 15 minutes. Skim fat off pan juices. Serve roast with pan juices if desired. Garnish roast with rosemary sprigs.
Serving suggestion: Serve pork roast with oven-roasted butternut squash chunks and Brussels sprouts.
Yield: Serves 6.
Source: Mike Pokrzywinski, via Tabasco.