Heritage foods is a company which sources and resells premium, small farm, meats from around the country. Really, this is the kind of pork you want to be curing. Small farms raising heritage breed pigs in a happy environment on good feed. A while back someone from Heritage Foods contacted me asking if I wanted to try some of their products for curing. Of course I did! After a little back and forth with them, I told them that rather than just curing a couple different cuts of pork, why not cure the same cut from two different breeds, and see if there are any organoleptic differences between just breeds, keeping all other variables the same.
You’ll have to excuse the generally poor pictures. It was really hard to get the right color balance and exposures of the meat for some reason. Anyhow, you’re not here because this is a photography blog!
|2 Berkshire jowls in the package. These came from Larry and Madonna Sorell of Lazy S.Farms in Cloud County, Kansas.|
|The untrimmed, just out of the package Berkshire jowls|
|Back side of the jowls. Unfortunately the processor skinned them. I’m not sure why, but it would be nice if one could request these skin on, it’s very preferable, you’ll see why later.|
|Berkshire side shot|
|Red wattle package with meat from David Holthaus's 500 acres in Decorah, Iowa.|
|Again, untrimmed red wattle jowls|
|Trimmed from glands and other undesired materials.|
|I cured one of each jowl type under vacuum|
|After a couple weeks the jowls were rinsed and patted dry and then….|
|Coated in plain black pepper. Nothing more.|
|Ready for the curing chamber |
|The jowls dried for 5 months at about 55 deg. F and 75% RH. |
Berkshire on the left, Red Wattle on the right.
|The finished, cut product. Berkshire on left and Red Wattle on right again. |
These are beauties. The only “error” is the very slight oxidative rancidity that can be seen as yellowing fat on the outer bottom edge. This is do to the jowls being skinned, and not having that extra protection.
Not a huge deal, it can be removed, or eaten if one prefers.
So….what’s the result? Do different breed pigs taste different? The answer is…..maybe! :) Let me explain. The two guanciali I produced taste REMARKABLY different. The Berkshire is smooth, tasty, mellow and nicely porky. Really nice…it’s like a warm embrace of pig. The Red Wattle is a punch in the mouth of porkyness. It’s heavy, thick in flavor, intense and punchy.
So, what’s the deal? Obviously the breed made a big difference! Well, maybe! There are a couple of uncontrolled/uncontrollable variables, a major one being feed. While both these pigs led happy lives, their diets were almost certainly very different, and THAT could have been the major contributor to the flavor difference, and not the breed. We’ll never know I guess.
The question remains unanswered then, in the meantime I will thoroughly enjoy BOTH these jowls immensely, and want to thank Heritage Foods for sending me this amazing product. I highly recommend you guys take a look at their products, they’re really superb. If you order, ask if they can leave the skin on:)