Pulling for pork: More meat-lovers want choicest cuts
Star Anis- Braised Pork is one of the dishes that will be served at the farm to table pork dinner at PL8 Simply Asian in Barrington.| Michelle LaVigne ~ Sun-Times Media
Star Anise-Braised Pork
(From Sean Grady)
5 pounds pork butt
3 tablespoons soybean oil
1/3 cup soy sauce
3/4 gallon water
1/4 cup mushroom soy
21/2 ounces rock sugar
1 cinnamon stick
3 pieces star anise
6 tablespoons fresh ginger
2 tablespoons scallions
2 pieces dry chili pods
1, 2-3-inch piece of orange peel
4 garlic cloves
Cut pork into 2-inch cubes. Add three tablespoons soybean oil to large sauce pan and brown pork cubes well; then remove from pan.
Add cinnamon, star anise, dry chili pods, orange peel and garlic cloves into pan and cook for two minutes.
Add water, soy and mushroom soy to deglaze pan, scraping bottom with wooden spatula.
Add pork back into pan with ginger, scallions and rock sugar.
Bring to boil, skim off impurities, and then reduce heat to a simmer.
Cook for 2-3 hours or until pork is tender. Remove from heat and let rest at room temperature. When cool, pull pork meat with your fingers into small strands, or matchstick-size portions.
Top with shredded scallions and drizzle with hoisin sauce. Serve on steamed buns.
Updated: November 8, 2012 9:16AM
The other white meat, pork, is as popular as ever. And more and more people are coordinating with local pig farmers and roasters to get the freshest, best-tasting pork possible.
Some are even trying their hand at roasting a swine themselves. Brooke Buccola says roasting your own pig is easier than most people imagine. “There’s so much fun with it and there is a sense of accomplishment.”
Buccola owns Heybeck’s Meat Market in Barrington with her husband, Chef Brett Buccola. From locations in Palatine (Heybeck’s) and Barrington (Meeske’s Prime Meats) they cater full pig roasts or roast pigs partially, providing customers with instructions for finishing the roasting and carving process.
People are most surprised that carving is easier than cooking the pig, which requires some concentration. Managing meat temperatures is the key. “It’s the wind, it’s how your coals are doing; that’s what you want to watch,” Brooke says. She recommends using a meat thermometer to test meat, starting with the hind legs, where meat is thickest. Start carving in the hind area when it reaches 185-190 degrees. The shoulders should be 180 degrees. “If they reach 190 degrees, the pig starts drying out,” Brooke says. Cooking times vary, depending on the style of roaster.
Brett designed their grills for pigs to rest freely, without hooks or poles poking through the pig, creating holes through which juice is lost.
Pigs are roasted in a rotisserie smoker with a mix of hickory and fruit wood (cherry or apple) at Uncle Bub’s BBQ and Catering in Westmont for a full day. “The meat comes out white, tender and very flavorful with hints of smokiness because of the long process,” says Pit Master Jay Rushford.
For those who want the pig roast without the work, PL8 Simply Asian in Barrington is hosting a farm-to-table pork dinner on Nov. 8. The menu will feature items made from half of a Berkshire pig raised by Cliff McConville and Konda Dees at Barrington Natural Farms in Barrington Hills.
Their pig farm is new this year. “I had 48 acres and thought ‘Hey, there’s no reason I can’t raise a few pigs in my woods’,” McConville says. They started in March with six Chester Whites, brought in eight Berkshires in May and added six more Chester Whites in July. They will expand next year, adding more pigs and more room for them to roam and roll in mud piles. “You’ll never see a happier pig than one with a mud hole to roll around in,” McConville says.
PL8 Chef Sean Grady visited the farm in September to help select the Berkshire pig he’ll use to make his pork dinner. He’ll make Star Anise-Braised Pork & Buns, Crispy Spiced Pork Belly and ice cream topped with cured salted bacon crumble. For the Star Anise-Braised Pork, Grady recommends not letting the water reduce too much while cooking. “Don’t reduce the liquid too much so the dish doesn’t get too salty; you can always add a little water by taste-testing.”
To learn more about the pork dinner at PL8, visit www.pl8simplyasian.com/events.html.