Monday, September 17, 2012

I Love Bacon But It Sure Ain't The Only Good Eats On A Pig

Ah, the pig, swine, porker, oinker or whatever else you want to call it. It could be the most perfect animal in all of God's creation from a person's point of view who likes good eats with plenty of variety. Why some religions consider it evil or unclean is easy to understand. Perhaps, I should qualify that to say why some religions considered it unclean or evil a thousand years ago made sense. In today’s world, with what we know about germs and parasites and all those other little boogers, that often live inside of pigs and that can get inside us an screw us over health wise, and with all we know about proper hygiene and proper cooking techniques, it should be much less of a concern to us. Yeah, I know, some still truly people believe that the pig is evil or even the devil itself. Good for them, let them enjoy their religious beliefs and good for me because it means more pork in my belly. With all of the knowledge we have now, proper handling of pigs, even those raised without the use of antibiotics, should keep us essentially disease and parasite free from anything that might infest a pig and be passed onto humans. Well, from anything other than evil spirits maybe but I'll take my chances with the possibility of evil spooks and just wash my hands well after handling the raw meat and eat mine well cooked. 

As I said, from the pot of view of someone who likes good food and a variety at that, the pig may be God's perfect creation. The different cuts of the flesh truly have very distinctive flavors, so much so that sometimes you might think you are eating the meat of two different animals if offered both cuts in the same meal. I love everything I have ever eaten that has come from swine. Some of my favorite cuts are pork tenderloin, pig bellies, loin chops, ribs, pigs feet, pigs knuckles (when is the last time you saw lamb or beef knuckles for sale for human consumption) and the snout. Even the fried skin is excellent. I am not much of an organ meat eater but I would probably give it all a try when it comes to porker innards. I figure they probably would be delicious just as has been every other part of the pig that I have eaten so far.
Then there are also prepared meats made from swine. Where would the world be without pepperoni, salami, pork hot dogs, breakfast sausages, Italian sausages, Land Yeager, Krainerwurst, pigs in a blanket, Bratwurst, Steamed Dumplings (the filler is often prepared pork), and so on. Lest you think I have forgotten, allow me to mention here, the king of prepared meats SPAM! The pig is one heck of a versatile animal when it comes to making good food out of it, and yes I like Spam and consider it good food along with everything else I have mentioned.
Of course, besides the different tastes of each cut of meat, there are also all of the wonderful recipes for swine flesh from oh so many countries and cultures around the world. There is bacon, Canadian bacon, salt pork bellies to name just a mere few. Then there are dishes like Yeager schnitzel, Moo Shoo Pork, rib roast, bacon and eggs, stuffed pork cutlets, Virginia Ham for Christmas dinner, schinenspeck, stuffed pork chops, Italian sweet sausage with eggs, potatoes, peppers and onions, Hungarian pork chops, Chorizo and eggs, Peking pork chops, Sweet and Sour Pork, hot dogs and sauerkraut, standing rib roast with red kraut and potato salad, and the list goes on and on. I love beef and I love lamb but I do not think I could eat them anywhere nearly as often as I can eat pork and not get tired of it. The only other meat, actually fowl, that I could probably eat as often as I could eat pork would be chicken. As far as I know, they have not yet made Spam out of chicken and thus Pig Meat Rules. 

If you like bacon, and who in their right mind (except maybe those restricted by religion) does not like bacon, do not sell yourself short by not enjoying the rest of the critter in as many different ways as you can try it. one hint as to how to enjoy it more, use the fattier cuts of meat when you buy pork. In other words, if you buy chops, don't go for the new age extra leans chops. In my opinion, and I base that on a lot of pork that has gone through me, they stand too much of a chance of coming out dry. Even worse, as I taste it, when pork loses the fat it loses its flavor (just like any other meat but more so than most others). I sued to watch Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern and have to say that one of the most insightful things he ever said, on that show, was that pork should be fatty to be enjoyed properly. If anyone knows good eats, and how to enjoy it, especially meat, it is him.
Bacon is great, when I eat it I cannot get enough, but the rest of the pig is also excellent eating when it comes to the edible parts. If you only eat bacon though, that is okay, it leaves more of the rest of that filthy beast for me.
All the best,
Glenn B (swine eater for life)