A Market Boom by Chef Shawn Kretz
Well, it is nice to see one market booming in the midst of our recession. I am talking about the Downtown Cornwall Farmers Market of course. Now that all the crops have germinated and are on their way to producing wonderful fruits and vegetables we will see these items trickle in as they are ready for harvest.
Fresh local salad greens, strawberries and sweet peas are already here.
I am continually impressed with the quality and breadth of unique commodities that are available in S,D & G. Coming from produce rich areas such as Southern Ontario, Prince Edward County and the Ottawa Valley, I am interested in seeing what my newest surroundings bring.
The local Bison (Buffalo) found at Islandview farms is not only the best priced Bison I have found in the province, but some of the best tasting. They are certainly majestic looking creatures as they graze on the north side of highway 2 east of Summerstown.
Equally impressive is a St.Andrews pork producer, Peasant’s Craft Farm specializing in a “boutique” heritage breed known as Berkshire. What is special about this breed is its unique intramuscular marbling, much like beef. Common pork has fat and muscle in separate layers. Berkshire tends to retain its moisture better and has far more flavour.
I hope to see you at the market, get out and support our local producers. It’s well worth it.
It’s recipe time, I want to show you how to make your pork taste like it does in a high-end restaurant. The secret is that the pork tastes so good because it has been put in a brine, think marinade, only better. This is the same thing they do to bacon, minus the smoking, and nitrates. If you like to retain the pink colour add a teaspoon of nitrate such as saltpetre. Although the negative health effects associated with nitrates may not be desireable.
You can flavour the brine with aromatics, etc. I like to put a few crushed juniper berries, a few bay leaves, some crushed black pepper and some fresh thyme. You can also use ethnic flavourings if the pork is being used for ethnic cuisine, ie thai or szechuan, etc.
You can brine any cut of pork, just keep in mind you need a large enough container and the larger it is the longer the brine takes to penetrate. A whole loin takes 5-7 days in brine in the fridge.
A good rule of thumb is 1 cup sea salt and 1 cup brown OR white sugar to 1 pound of meat. Then add enough water to submerge the meat.
Before adding the meat to the brine you shouldd bring it to a boil to dissolve the salt and sugar and to infuse the flavours from the aromatics.
Let it cool before adding the meat. Pork chops brine for 1-2 days, small roasts 6-10 days and large roasts/ hams 2-3 weeks
Keep in mind that when you cook brined pork it will remain pink in colour, but will be opaque.
I recommend a cooked temperature of between 135-145F (checked with a meat thermometer in the centre of the meat). If you are curious, cut into a pork chop at 100F, you will see a pink translucent core, but the cooked outside will be pink and opaque.
Roasts should be started in a high oven (450F)to brown/seal and then reduce to 325F to finish.
Chops should be cooked on a high heat grill or in a cast iron/heavy pan.
Focus on rendering fat caps. It produces a crispy and very tasty fat. Browning the meat a bit is also great.
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