I am really interested in learning more about what goes into producing good meat. So I thought I’d start with pork.
Not all pork is the same! I find some pork to be so mild it has no taste; sometimes it is so strong that it needs heavy spicing to balance the strong taste, and sometimes it is so lean that no matter how I cook it, it becomes too dry.
One of my favourite pork producers in Wales is Nant Du Pork. Nant Du Pork is reared by Rob and Fiona Park at Cwmcrwth Farm. I discovered them a few years ago and now regularly seek out their pork at farmers markets and food festivals.
Rob and Fiona started pig farming about 6 years ago. They started with 2 pigs and now have 150. Mr A and I went out to the farm for a visit to try to gain a better understanding as to what it was that made me love their pork so much.
The first thing that hit me as Rob was showing us around the farm is how much he loves his pigs. Some of the pigs on the farm that are old and past being productive for him but still he gives them a good home and loves to go to their pens just to have a chat and scratch them behind the ears. Rob also loves the breed of pig he keeps. He chose to keep Oxford Sandy & Black pigs, not only because he feels they produce the best quality meat but because they are a very friendly breed.
We went into some of the pens of sows with their young, and they were quite content to have us approach their babes. The boars as well were very calm and gentle. You can see that Rob really enjoys the time he spends with his pigs.
This love for his animals is demonstrated as well in the care he gives them. They have outdoor pens; sows with their piglets have colourful huts where the sow can nurse her babes. Rob says that good husbandry is essential for a healthy herd and it’s a healthy herd that produces quality meat. The huts are kept immaculately clean and the pigs are given a mixture of good quality feed as well as home grown veg.
A major difference is that commercial pigs are ready for the market in 4 months but traditional breeds, like the Oxford Sandy & Black that Rob rears, take 7 to 8 months before they are ready to go to market. These additional months help to make the pig tastier. In addition, Rob says that you can’t breed a traditional pig as often as a commercial one and therefore he gets a better quality litter which gives better meat.
So after my day on the farm with Rob, I am convinced that love, care, husbandry, and rearing a traditional breed of pig all add up to great tasting pork! If you haven’t tried their pork yet have a look at their online shop.
At the end of our tour of the farm, Rob and Fiona invited us for brunch…obviously starring their homemade sausages and bacon!
Absolutely delicious and, of course, I couldn’t leave the farm without buying some pork to cook at home!
I bought a lovely loin of pork on the bone which I simply prepared as follows:
- I got Mr A to score the skin for me as he loves a good piece of crackling.
- I then poured boiling hot water on the skin being careful not to get the flesh wet.
- I then dried the skin.
- In a mortar and pestle, I then bashed up some sea salt, thyme, rosemary and black pepper and rubbed this into the skin and let it rest until I was ready to cook it.
- Before roasting, I seasoned the meat with salt pepper and more herbs, cut an onion in half and put the meat on top, skin side up.
- Into a 240c oven for 30 minutes and down to 170c until it was cooked.
I also love their belly pork, a cut I adore, done with oriental flavours. I marinated the pork in soy sauce, rice vinegar, tamarind pulp, honey, star anise and Chinese five spice. I cooked the pork slowly in the marinade at 160c for 2 hours (covered in foil and at the end, turned up the heat to 240 taking foil off to get a crispy skin.
If you want to visit the farm, you can. Rob and Fiona have 3 charming and beautifully appointed self-catering cottages for rent and offer a series of courses and special weekends for the whole family. In addition to the pigs, they keep horses, chickens, sheep, rabbits, and have very friendly and playful dogs! Fiona also sells beautiful blankets made from the fleece of their Cotswold sheep!
Rob & Fiona Park
Nant Du Pork
Tel: 01558 669160