Last weekend I had the opportunity to man the pork chop station at Owens Farm pork tasting event. After a walking tour of their dynamic farm, Caroline and Dave served pulled pork, ham, bacon and baked goods produced with farm rendered lard. The pork chop tasting offered visitors an opportunity to compare grocery store chops and farm raised Tamworth chops.
As a disclaimer, I am a home cook, my favorite meals tend to employ simple, rather old fashioned cooking techniques which highlight whatever is fresh or in abundance from our own or nearby farms. Even though this was not an America's Test Kitchen trial, I tried to treat both meats evenly. Armed with two non-stick skillets, I trimmed a bit of fat from each chop and rendered a bit of liquid fat to fry up the chops.
The Owens farm chop sizzled and developed a lovely caramelized crust, surrounding the moist meat. Even without a resting period, the cut up samples were moist and full of flavor.
The grocery store chop was frustrating to cook, I just could not get that rich caramel color. Initially the grocery chop did sizzle but I believe that was the " added broth" listed on the label, cooking away. Once the broth cooked off, I could not not develop a rich crust and risked cooking all the moisture out of the chop. The store chop had little flavor. I wonder how much of the flavor and weight of the store chop came from the added broth?
Beyond its intense, beautiful flavor, farm raised pork requires more effort and resources. Arranging for a pork share, managing the freezer so there is enough bacon for summer BLT's, flipping to the back of the recipe box for a picnic roast recipe, and paying for the yearly delivery is an investment.
As a farmer, of course I believe it is worth the effort. I love what I do and I love the food we grow. I believe that small farms, like Owens Farm and Lilac Hill Farm are good not only for our tables but benefit our land and support our communities. But honestly I am conflicted; how do families with increasing demands on their time and wallets make room for my products? For that I do not have an answer, I am just working towards making a place for our farm raised foods at the table.