Friday, April 15, 2011

Berkshire Pork Racks

If you're a regular around here, you know I won some prizes in the Marx Foods Iron Foodie contest. I finally made enough room in my freezer to order what I wanted - Kurobuta pork racks. Kurobuta is also known as Berkshire pork.

When I was deciding what to buy with my Marx Foods winnings, I waffled back and forth between pork racks and pork shoulder, and finally settled on the racks because it's a cut that's pretty unusual to find at stores around here, but shoulder is pretty common.

For the first trial, I sliced one of my racks in half - there are only 2 of us, so I didn't want an 8-rib rack. To get the real flavor of the meat, I decided to treat it very simply - roasted with a bit of seasoned salt on top.

I let the meat sit at room temperature a while before I roasted it. I find that works really well for just about any meat. Take the chill off, then cook it.

I set the oven for 325 degrees, inserted a meat thermometer, and let it cook until it reached 155 degrees, fat-side up and rib-side down. It took about 1 1/2 hours for it to cook fully.

When it hit the right temperature, I let it rest for about 10 minutes, but I should have let it rest even longer. I lost some juice when I cut into it, but it was still plenty juicy.

Berkshire pork is sometimes called the Kobe of pork, but I beg to differ. Kobe beef has always been a rare, exotic, and expensive type of beef. Its claim to fame is its tenderness.

Berkshire pork, on the other hand, is not so much an exotic beast, but is pork the way it used to be, before pork producers started to breed leaner and leaner pigs. Well, okay, now it's a little more rare and exotic, but it's heirloom rather than something new.

This is the pork I remember from my childhood, when pork was moist and juicy and you had to try really hard to make a dry, lifeless pork chop. Back then, brining wasn't necessary, and pork tasted like pork.

Now, Berkshire pork and other old breeds are making a comeback. Unfortunately, they aren't available at the grocery store, and maybe not even at fancy meat markets.

Luckily, though, small farmers are bringing back the old breeds, and online purveyors are making it easier to buy Berkshire pork and some of the other heirloom breeds.

After the first sample of the pork, I started thinking about what else I could do with the rest of the racks. When the weather gets better, outdoor cooking would be great. Maybe I'll smoke some. But I think I'll keep the methods simple. This is pork the way it's supposed to be - they way it used to be - the way it should be.

Succulent ... there's no other way to describe it.


Pat said...

Um, jealous.

Jen said...


Jeannie said...


viji said...
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