The world changed pretty quickly a month ago, and the way we shop and cook changed, too. I don’t go to the store every day anymore, I know exactly what’s in my freezer, and I’m planning what to cook days in advance.
If you’re getting the Piccone’s pork box this week, be prepared for some very tasty meals. But like a big box of vegetables, getting a mess o’ meat requires some planning.
Here’s my strategy.
Celebrate the bounty with the pork loin chops. These tender cuts don’t need much fussing, just give them a generous dusting of sea salt and let them sit for a while before cooking. Then sear both sides in a cast-iron skillet until nicely browned, about 4 minutes each side. Pop the skillet into a 375F oven for another 6-8 minutes to finish cooking. If you’ve got some arugula or any other salad greens, slice the pork chop thinly and serve it over a pile of the greens with oil and vinegar.
Note: These chops have a lovely layer of fat that gets crispy, but I like to trim most of it off and render in so I have some pork fat for cooking. Just cut the fat into chunks, pit them in a skillet, and cook in the oven at 250F for a few hours.
The coppa steaks, cut from the shoulder, are my favorite cut and have much better flavor than most chops. They have more connective tissue, though, and are best cooked slowly in the oven brushed with Alabama white barbecue sauce, a mix of Duke’s Mayonnaise, and Katz Cider Vinegar.
All of the sausages freeze nicely for later, but when you cook them, do it over medium heat (or in the oven) so they don’t get dried out. The Italian sausage is great with lentils, make some tacos with the chorizo, and the bratwurst are a great reason to get grilling.
Ground pork is the workhorse of my kitchen. I make pork burgers, meatloaf, and tomato sauce using it, and I usually have some cooked ground pork in the refrigerator if I feel like adding something meaty to my beans and cabbage.
Pork belly’s a wild card for most cooks, but just think of it as uncured bacon. You can slice it and cook it the same way, or slowly roast the whole piece. Or make your own bacon
While cooking patties of breakfast sausage for, well, breakfast seems obvious, my favorite use for this peppery, sage-laden ground pork is country gravy. Also called sawmill gravy, this old fashioned, creamy sauce can go on almost anything. Ladle it over biscuits, home fries, scrambled eggs, chicken-fried steak, or a bowl of rice.
Cook the sausage with a little olive oil and salt over medium heat for about 10 minutes, breaking it up into small pieces with a spatula as it cooks. Add a finely chopped onion and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of flour over the meat, stir well, and cook for another few minutes.
Add a cup of water, stir well, and allow to come to a boil. Add a half cup of milk, return to a boil, reduce heat, and let simmer for about 5 minutes. Taste and salt if needed. Store in the refrigerator for up to a week.
*Chickpea flour also makes good gravy
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