Heritage Pork ~ Not the Other White Meat
Grilled Berkshire Heritage Breed Pork Chop with Rosemary, Garlic & Sage
I want to add something new to my repertoire of summer grilling. I don’t cook a lot of pork on the grill, occasionally marinated pork tenderloin, definitely some baby back ribs and from time to time some brats will make an appearance on the grill grates. Then I tried Berkshire heritage breed pork chops (a.k.a. Kurobuta Pork). It felt like I just discovered a new animal!I want to add something new to my repertoire of summer grilling. I don’t cook a lot of pork on the grill, occasionally marinated pork tenderloin, definitely some baby back ribs and from time to time some brats will make an appearance on the grill grates. Then I tried Berkshire heritage breed pork chops (a.k.a. Kurobuta Pork). It felt like I just discovered a new animal!
Back in the day, pigs were fed meat products. Through this type of diet, raw or under cooked pork could make you sick. What they did back then was to cook the living daylights out of the pork chop, serving up a very thin, tough, jerky-like meat. Then came along Shake N’ Bake in 1965. Now you could fully cook your pork chop in a crispy coating that kept the meat moist. What a concept!
As time went on, farmers started producing pork that were raised on grains eliminating the chances of consumers getting sick from under cooked pork. They raised larger herds and larger pigs with less fat and more muscle. But all this came at a cost…flavor. Now we can eat our pork chop with a little pink in the center but risk a tough piece of meat if we even slightly over cook it.
Over the years as we have finagled with getting the pig and the pork chop just right, there are some farmers who went way back in history and are now raising and preserving the cherished heritage breed of Berkshire hogs.
The American Berkshire Association was established in 1875. All the Berkshire pigs are registered and the association ensures the breed is pure. This breed is to pork what Wagu is to beef. They are known for their outstanding pork flavor and moist texture from the fine streaks of fat interwoven throughout the muscle. They’re raised on small farms, have room to roam both inside and outside, eat grass from the pasture and do not receive antibiotics or hormones. Even their coloring is a deep rich pink. You won’t find white meat here.
So where does the name Kurobuta come from? The heritage traces back to the 1600’s to the shire of Berks in England. The herd belonged to the royalty of England. Over 300 years ago, the British government gave Japan a diplomatic gift of their famed Berkshire Hog. The Japanese were so impressed, they started breeding the hogs and calling them Kurobuta (translated as Black Hog). They maintained the pureness of the breed. So the long story short, Kurobuta and Berkshire Pork are the same breed. The small US farmers who are raising this heritage breed use the two names interchangeably.
I decided to treat this pork chop like a very fine steak. I rubbed it with seasonings that accentuate the deep flavors of the seared pork chop and served them with a summer fresh salad with fruit.
To ensure everything ran smoothly during the preparation, I followed these steps.
1. Created the White Balsamic Vinaigrette
2. Created the Herbed Dry Rub for the Pork
3. Toasted the Walnuts (steps 1, 2 & 3 can be done a day ahead)
4. Cut the Apples and drizzled with Lemon Juice.