Growing up on a farm meant doing a lot of farm chores. And since my family finished pigs (got ready for market) while my grandpa farrowed pigs (bred the mamas – sows – and helped them through the birthing process until the pigs were ready to be on their own), that meant I spent a lot of time in the barn, feeding, cleaning the pens, and even getting my pig ready to show for the county fair every summer. But it also meant we ate a lot of pork. It was a staple on our Midwestern plate. And it was always something I looked forward to after a long day of chores.
Pork is something I still love. It’s lean. It’s tender. It’s juicy. And it pairs well with so many other foods. Did I mention that the most flavorful, tender and juicy pork should be cooked to 145 degrees Fahrenheit? That’s the new recommendation with a three minute rest. (Ground pork should always be cooked to 160 degrees).
Why is pork leaner? Farmers have made dramatic improvements in how they raise their pigs over the past few decades:
- Enhanced protection from harsh weather and predators
- Better genetics and animal care
- Improved diets to better match animals’ needs
And even beyond that, today’s farm efficiency means that pound for pound of pork, farmers are now using far fewer of our earth’s precious resources than they were in 1959. 78% less land, 41% less water and 35% smaller carbon footprint. Impressive.
I continue to be impressed by our food system in the United States, our farmers, their dedication, the families that support them, how safe our food system is and how we have so much variety each time we shop in the supermarket aisles.
Because this month’s Recipe ReDux blog link up included the topic of cooking with “spirits”, matching pork and spiced rum couldn’t be a better fit. Thanks to my intern Megan for preparing the recipe! (Don’t worry about the alcohol in this recipe – it’s reduced and cooked out!
- 1 cup plus 1 Tablespoon Spiced Rum, divided
- 1 cup Apple Juice
- 2 Tablespoons Sugar
- 3 Large Apples cut into thin wedges
- 1/2 cup Raisins
- 1 Tablespoon Butter
- 1 Tablespoon Olive oil
- 6 Pork Chops
- Combine 1 cup spiced rum, apple juice, and sugar in a medium sized skillet and bring to a boil stirring occasionally.
- While the juice mixture is heating, peel apples and cut into thin wedges. When juice mixture begins to boil, add apples and raisins. Cover and simmer until apples are tender, about 10 minutes.
- With a slotted spoon, remove apples and raisins and set aside. Boil the remaining juice mixture in the skillet stirring occasionally until it has been reduced to syrup, about 10 min.
- While the remaining juice mixture is reducing, heat oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add pork chops and cook until lightly browned on each side, about 3-5 minutes each side.
- Add butter, remaining 1 tablespoon spiced rum, and reserved apples and raisins to the syrup mixture. Stir until butter has melted.
- Serve pork chops topped with the apple raisin rum glaze.