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Monday, March 3, 2014

Berkshire Pork Chops

Berkshire pork is an English 'heritage' pork.

Think of it as like, heirloom pork.  Heh heh heh.  'Heirloom' being the buzz word around foodie locales for some time now, why should it just apply to tomatoes and carrots?

It's juicy and tender, and... well... fatty.  Marbled is the non-scary word.

It has a very distinctive taste, and unlike regular pork, is much darker and richer in colour as well.

It's expensive too.

I've had it a few times while dining out, but never cooked it myself.

There's this new(ish) butcher shop that opened up in our neighbourhood, Roast (check out their site - it's pretty neat!) and it is very high-end; in quality, selection... and in price.

It's very much worth it, though.  They offer some of the best cuts of meat (they sell other products too) I've ever seen in my life.

If you're a heavy meat eater, or go through a lot of meat, this maybe is not the place for you.  However, if you're like us, and might have meat once a week, it is a real nice treat.  

A few years back we went from eating meat every other day to now eating it drastically less often.  This was mostly for health reasons, but it had a surprising (surprisingly awesome) side-effect that we were not aware of immediately.  In fact it kind of happened organically; we started to choose better, and more pricey, cuts of meat.  

In essence, we've opted for quality over quantity.


Back to Berkshire pork.

As is my default when cooking very excellent cuts of meat, I lean towards minimalism.  My thinking is that the inherent flavours of the meat should take centre stage.  Usually this is just a little bit of salt and pepper (maybe more on the pepper).

This being my first time cooking a Berkshire chop, and one of maybe only a handful of times I've cooked a pork chop in my entire life, I decided to grill them.

I'm not complaining; they turned out well, quite well really, and the really dark pork-y flavours from the Berkshire were definitely there and strongly.

However... :)

Sometimes I feel like this blog should have been called, 'The Learning Chef', or something similar... because it seems like more often than not I am putting caveats on my cooking explications.

I think maybe next time I'll try baking them.  Actually, I think I'll try roasting them.  Searing them on really high heat for a few minutes, and then slow-cooking them for an hour or so on really low heat.

Yup, I think that would be the best way to cook these babies up.

But, like I said, I'm not complaining.  These chops were delicious, and certainly not cooked badly.  And they gave us a really good taste of what Berkshire is.

Here are some pics:

You can see just how fatty these babies are.  One of the other reasons I think roasting would be better.  I would have placed the fat strip facing upright, and right under the broiler, making it crisp up really nicely and infusing the whole rest of the chop with an insane amount of juice.

Grilling them gave a very nice look and texture to the flanks of the chops, but it did mean that most of the juice from cooking was lost.  I did manage to sneak a little bit into a bowl in which I tossed these roasted potatoes though. 


As you can see, it was really just a fine dusting of freshly ground sea salt and black pepper.

Mmm mmm cracklin' good.

So, in hindsight, roasting would have been better, but it's not like we didn't enjoy the crap out of eating these Berkshire pork chops.