Much has been said and written about the legalization of marijuana and its many ramifications.
One group, however, cares little or nothing about legal or illegal; they simply want it served up in their food every day, thank you.
A Snohomish County pig farmer feeds his Berkshire hogs a mixture of traditional feed ground together with stems and leaves that are the waste by-product of legally-grown medical marijuana, and the pigs seem to love it.
Of course, it’s been my experience (albeit limited) that pigs will scarf up almost anything.
Mr. Gross, the pig farmer, also feeds his pampered pigs barrels of wheat mash he collects from a local brewery, which is waste from the brewing process, and the brewery is more than pleased to have that waste taken care of by the farmer. It’s called “recycling” and for farmer, brewers, pot growers, and especially the pigs, it’s a win-win situation.
What effect does this have on the pigs, and more important, what does this do to the pork chops Mr. Gross eventually sells in a butcher shop in Pike Place Market? First, it has little effect on the pigs, who mostly sleep all day anyway, when they’re not eating. They don’t get high from the waste residue of the pot plants, and there is no evident residue in the meat tissue, so it won’t affect you no matter how many chops you pig out on. But, according to Mr. Gross and his butcher, and from comments I read online, these recycled feed additives give meat from the pigs a lot more flavor than your average piece of pork.
“The best pork chop you’ve ever had,” read one comment, and the farmer, Mr. Gross, says “it’s like a savory, alfalfa-fed pig.” I’m all in favor of that, because a number of years ago when pig farmers began to raise leaner, low-fat pigs, they also gave us “the other white meat,” with much less flavor than the rich tasting pork I grew up with.
Obviously, we won’t be seeing Mr. Gross’s pork in our meat counters for some time; this is an experiment in recycling natural waste materials for low-cost pig feed, and at this point it’s very limited. If, however, you’d like to try some pot-fed pork, be prepared to pay anywhere from $15 to $20 a pound, and right now the only place I know of that is selling Mr. Gross’s pork is von Schneidau’s butcher shop in Pike Place Market. If any of our readers know of other sources, please let me know.
Farmer Gross is taking pork to an all-new high (pun intended); all natural, organic, pot-fed pork, from the happiest pigs on the planet.
Until we can get our hands on pork such as that from Mr. Gross’s happy hogs, let’s see if we can find some ways to add flavor to the pork we do have available to us. We still have some grilling, barbecue time left of this summer, and this was one of my husband’s favorite ways to pep up those baby back ribs.
BABY BACK RIBS & ESPRESSO SAUCE
2 T. hot Mexican chili powder (see note)
1 T. paprika
1 T. ground cumin
1½ t. salt
½ t. ground black pepper
4 lbs. baby back pork ribs
1 bottle (12 oz.) dark beer (do not use pale/lite, please)
1 bottle (18 oz.) quality barbecue sauce (your favorite)
½ cup water
2 T. (packed) brown sugar
1 T. instant espresso powder
In a small bowl, whisk together the chili powder, paprika, cumin, salt and pepper to blend. Rub this mixture all over the ribs and place ribs in a heavy, large roasting pan.
Boil the beer in a saucepan until reduced to 1 cup (about 5 min.), then pour the beer around the ribs. Cover the pan tightly with foil and place in a preheated 400 degree oven. Bake ribs until fork-tender, about an hour and a half.
Combine the barbecue sauce, water, brown sugar and instant espresso powder in a saucepan; simmer until the flavors blend and sauce thickens slightly, stirring occasionally (about 10-12 min.). (You can do the ribs and sauce a day ahead, cover and refrigerate each until ready to finish, if desired.)
To finish, when you’re about ready to serve, bring grill to med. hot. Brush ribs with some of the barbecue sauce and grill just until heated through, about 3-4 min. per side. Transfer ribs to a platter, bring remaining sauce to simmer and brush the ribs with more of the sauce. Serve ribs, passing remaining barbecue sauce separately. Serves 4-6.
NOTE: You can use your chili powder in the red can, but if you’ve not yet tried Mexican chili powder, you may want to; we’ve been using it for years and much prefer it. Look for it in the herb/spice section of the Mexican foods shelf in the market.
How about a quick, easy pork-in-a-bun sandwich, delicious on a warm summer evening. You could even turn this into small pork sliders, if you wish. This recipe is for two, but you can easily increase it to make as many as needed.
PORK IN A BUN
½ lb. (approx.) boneless pork loin chops, cut crosswise into ¼-inch thick strips
1 T. olive oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2-3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced or put through garlic press
3 T. bourbon
1/3 cup purchased (your favorite) barbecue sauce
2 large buns, sub rolls, or kaiser rolls (your preference)
½ cup coleslaw (homemade or purchased)
Sprinkle the pork strips with a bit of salt and freshly ground black pepper. Heat the oil in a heavy skillet over med.-high heat. When oil is shimmering, add pork; sauté until just cooked through (don’t overcook; probably about 2 min.) Use a slotted spoon to transfer strips to a plate.
Add onion to skillet; sauté until just translucent then add garlic and sauté until onion is just golden brown and be careful not to burn the garlic. Remove from heat; add bourbon and stir to get up the brown bits from the pan. Add barbecue sauce, place back on med.-low heat and simmer until sauce thickens, stirring often, about 3 min. Return the pork strips to the sauce, heat 1 min. Mound pork strips and sauce on bun bottoms; top with some coleslaw and bun top. Serve.
I also have a great Mexican recipe for pork chops with a mango tequila sauce, delicious if you like mango. If you’d like to have it, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I’ll see that you get it.