Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Last Night's Dinner

Last night, we invited my sister and her family over for dinner. On the menu was pork chops, diced potatoes, and asparagus. My sister brought a pack of pork chops she had purchased at Wal-Mart. For fun, we provided some Berkshire pork chops so that we could all have a side by side taste test.

The diced red potatoes went into the oven after being seasoned with Red Robin’s seasoning that you can buy at their restaurants. We love the seasoned fries they serve there. The fresh asparagus was prepared to be steamed. And then we took out the pork chops. Immediately we began to notice differences. The Berkshire chops were darker in color. I pointed out the fine marbling to my sister and explained that this was why Berkshire meat was so much more flavorful and juicy. I also explained that the marbling of the meat is a characteristic that is unique to the Berkshire breed. Also very noticeable was the difference in size. The Berkshire chops were cut 1.25” thick. The Wal-Mart chops were about 5/8” thick. Hollie lightly coated all of the chops in a marinade of olive oil and Famous Dave’s grill seasoning. (I am realizing we are suckers for other restaurants seasonings.) We placed the chops on the grill and soon the kitchen began to fill with mouth-watering aromas.

I am by no means a chef and tend to overcook our meat when grilling. Like many others, I am always afraid I will get food poisoning if I don’t cook the meat long enough. (I guess I should get a meat thermometer.) Anyway, the beauty of Berkshire pork is that it is so moist and tender, that it is difficult to mess up. As the pork chops neared completion on the grill, I took a knife and carefully cut a slit into the center of a few of the chops to see if they were ready. The Wal-Mart chops were done as was evident by the color and texture of the meat. I made a small cut into the Berkshire chop and it filled with juice so fast that I couldn’t even see the inside of the meat! I had to hold it on its side to allow the juice to drain while I checked it.

I placed the chops on a plate and took them inside. The Berkshire chop was still 1.25” thick. The Wal-Mart chop had shrunk down to 3/8” - 7/16” thick. We all had a good laugh at the “poor little Wal-Mart chop” as we called it. Because it was so thin, I accidently burned it a little bit. Like I said, I am not a chef.

I carefully cut four pieces off of each type of pork chop. We all tasted the store bought pork chop first. It was good (as all pork is) but very salty. We checked the packaging and noticed the fine print that stated that these pork chops were enhanced. Salty is often mistaken for “flavorful” which was very apparent when contrasted with the flavor of the Berkshire pork, which followed next. The Berkshire chop had a very different texture. It was similar to a beef pot roast in texture. It was tender but not at all mushy. It was incredibly moist and bursting with flavor. It was actually very similar in texture and flavor to the filet mignon wrapped in bacon that you can get in a nice steakhouse. I actually am not sure how to fully explain it. If salty is a “hard” flavor, then Berkshire pork has a very “soft” flavor. When I say I soft, I in no way mean lacking in flavor. It had a very strong flavor; it just didn’t “bite” like the enhanced pork did.

Being the evil parents that we are, we fed the rest of the Wal-Mart chops to the kids and ate the good stuff ourselves. As a further testament to the Berkshire pork chops, some of our kids asked for more “chicken”. My son came up and asked if he could have a bite of my “steak”.

All in all, it was a very delicious meal. It is always fun to eat good food with good company. In our case the good food was Berkshire chops, red potatoes, and steamed asparagus. The good company was my sweet sister and her wonderful family. We love them very much and are happy to have them as neighbors.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We were graciously invited over for dinner by the Christiansens not too long ago and tasted their delicious Berkshire pork. It was so juicy and we could really taste the flavor of the meat. I guess I would compare it to getting a prime rib roast from a restaurant. It needed almost no seasonings and my four small children all loved it (which is rare that they all like the same food). We were also able to take a tour of their farm and found that all the pigs had plenty of space to roam and run. The conditions were very humane; so much so that I would consider them "spoiled". I am 110% sold on Berkshire pigs and will order from them over and over. My family will never go back to eating any other kind of pork. Thanks. Stan Mandelin and family