It is a daily ritual. You know the one, when someone has to decide what is for dinner. Sometimes we start this process early in the morning and other days we wait till we are feeding the critters to start the conversation. Today, we actually started the conversation yesterday. As we ran through our options yesterday (hamburgers, steaks, fish, chicken and yes, pork of course) we remembered that we recently brought home one of our “super fats” as we call them from the butcher. With that in mind and knowing that we always like to have a package of chops before we start listing the USDA cuts for sale, we pulled out a package of 1 inch thick, bone in pork chops so they could thaw out overnight. Our dinner for the next night (tonight actually) was all decided. Whew, one chore done with.
What is a “super fat” you ask? Well, that is what we have taken to calling a few of our Red Wattle feeder hogs that have taken their job of eating and growing a little too seriously. They have eaten and they have grown and they have gotten FAT. We have tried cutting back on their food, but since they are the biggest hogs in the field, they still get more then their fair share and with 9 sows nursing litters, we did not have any extra pasture space available to seperate them out from the main herd. So they got to stay in the herd and continue to grow.
When we took one of the Super Fats in to the butcher, we decided to hang out in the cutting room while they did the cut and wrap on the hog so we could make decisions about the amount of trim left on the meat as well as making other decisions on the fly. It was my first time in the cutting room and it was pretty interesting and not nearly as complicated as I thought it might be. Again I have to thank the patience of the men working at Mt. Angel Meats as I changed cutting orders time and time again. “cut more fat off there, leave it on for that piece”, “Hey, can you make those chops a full inch thick instead of 3/4 inch”, “OH! Can you slice those hock pieces into Osso Bucco cuts instead of smoking them”. and “Can you vaccum pack those cuts while doing the rest in butcher paper still?” Those were just a few of the many changes I pestered them with. When they cut the chops, we knew that while the hog may have been overly fat, those chops were going to be out of this world. Talk about marbled! Those are going to be chops worthy of a great dinner!
Fast forward to tonight. Most of the time we grill porkchops on the gas grill, however a few weeks ago the gas grill broke down and we haven’t fixed it yet. Knowing that these chops were too good for the frying pan (not to mention too thick!) ,we figured we would have to cook them either on the old Weber charcoal grill (do we even have any briquettes?) or we’d have to use the charcoal powered smoker. I went off to feed the hogs and left Jim (the grill master of our household) to figure out the chop cooking. An hour later as I finished up the farm chores I could could smell the wood smoke and knew that Jim had opted for his favorite grill method : the smoker. It is slow and smokey, but we’ve never had a bad meal from meat cooked on that simple smoker/grill.
Some time later the chops were done to perfection. They were seasoned with just a little bit of sea salt and some pepper. I know. It seems silly to put so little seasonings on it, but really that is all we used. We wanted to taste the pork, not extra seasonings. As usual, we cut off a little bite as a teaser taste before we officially sat down to dinner. WOW! We knew these chops would be good, but we did not expect them to be this good. They were juicy and moist (thanks to that marbling!) and the flavor was out of this world. I don’t even know how to describe the flavor, but if I told you that most of one chop was immediately eaten as part of that teaser tasting, would that tell you what we thought of it?
I won’t lie to you, we eat very well here on the farm. We have some of the finest beef, pork and chicken that can be had. I know because we raised each and every animal that graces the depths of our many freezers. When we raise meat animals we do it with the intent on providing the animals with the best, most natural life possible, which helps ensure that the meat is the highest quality with lots of flavor. Each season brings with it different pork. Our fall and winter pork is finished on pumpkins, fruit and (yum) hazelnuts; while our spring and sumer pork is finished on grasses and clovers. We are going into grilling season and I am now a fan of these thicker, 1 inch chops. Heck, I might even like them thicker. I am also a fan of the Super Fats that we still have out in the field. They may be a bit on the “fluffy” side, but the flavor and marbling of the meat is outstanding.
So here is the deal. We have an extra Super Fat or two out in the field (might even be three of them out there). Normally we sell our Red Wattle pork sides at $3.75/lb based on hanging weight plus butcher/processing costs, but because these couple of hogs are overly fat and will yield a fair bit of fat, if you would like one of these Super Fats, we’ll sell them to you for $3.00/lb based on hanging weight plus butcher/processing costs. The upside is that you get an almost $100 per side discount AND you’ll get a bit extra fat to render down into lard for cooking. Ok. you’ll get a fair bit of extra fat, but did you know that fat is easily rendered down into lard and that pastured, home rendered lard is actually a fairly healthy cooking oil? And that lard makes the best pie crusts? If you don’t want the extra fat, but instead would like one of our nicely finished, NOT overly fat, Red Wattle hogs, well then we have those available too at $3.75/lb hanging weight plus processing.
Let me know. If no one buys them, I will be happy to have a summer long supply of thick, juicy chops for the smoker!