Farmers’ Market Ingredient of the Week: Pork Chops
Posted September 22nd, 2009 by Lindsey
Filed under: Farmers' Market, free range, French Herb, organic, recipe
The Farmers’ Market isn’t just for vegetables. Ideally, your local farmers’ market supports farmers raising livestock in an organic and sustainable manner. One of the largest carbon emitters, and therefore contributors to global warming, is commercial livestock farming. In addition, if you research the commercial farming industry, you’ll discover deplorable conditions, animal cruelty and practices that lead to the kind of food borne illnesses and contamination that have plagued this country in recent years. I try to eat consciously and responsibly, and I choose to be a carnivore, I feel I need to do so in a conscientious manner. Commercial meat products come to store shelves laden with chemicals, hormones, antibiotics and little flavor. Meat from a local farm is an entirely different animal.
Local farmers (hopefully) feed their pigs and cattle a natural diet that promotes health and well-being, eliminating the need for the antibiotics and hormones that are necessitated by a chemical-laden diet that fails to reflect the animals’ nutritional needs. Look for free-range, hormone and antibiotic free. Look for grass fed and finished cattle. Often local farms will not be organic because they cannot afford the certification process from the USDA, but if you take the time to engage your local farmers, they will be more than happy to describe their process. Taking care in raising animals makes an enormous difference not only in their health, but in our health. And it makes a huge difference in flavor. A great, free range, grass fed cow produces steak that tastes like…steak. The meat has a full, beefy flavor to it that really bring to light the injustice done to commercially raised beef. It cheats the animal, it cheats us and it cheats our palate. This may sound silly, but if you’ve tasted properly raised meat, you know what I’m talking about.
Recently, I met a lovely woman at the Farmers’ Market who runs a local farm with her husband. She offered a beautiful selection of properly raised pork and beef. We didn’t want to buy too many items on our first visit, so we picked up a couple porks chops and some steaks (more on those another time). If you’ve read any of my past Farmers’ Market posts, you know I like to prepare dishes simply and let the fantastic natural flavor of the ingredients shine through.
Pork chops on the grill are the ideal way to highlight their flavor without too much fussiness. We rubbed a small amount of French Herb Blend into the pork chops before putting them on the grill. Make sure the grill is properly heated before putting the pork chops on the grill. If you are careful, and turn them only once, the result will be a much moister pork chop. A word of caution here: free range, naturally raised beef and pork tends to be leaner than commercially raised meat. Think about it: this animals get exercise so they are obviously fitter and therefore have less fat than their factory farmed counterparts. This means that you have to be very careful not to overcook the meat or it will be tough. A nice piece of pork can be served less than well done. It will be moist and delicious.
After cooking, we finished with a little more French Herb Blend. The pork chops were so juicy, and you could taste the freshness, the diversity in the diet and the care with which the animal was raised. It tasted the way you imagine pork should taste, and so rarely does. This dish is awesome with zucchini or brussels sprouts.
If your Farmers’ Market does not have meat purveyors, investigate your local farms or check out www.localharvest.org to find a farmer near you.