Category Archives: Pork


Side ribs smoking on the barbecueI think that no cut of pork is as mistreated as ribs.  In kitchens across the country, in homes and restaurants alike, folks are boiling, stewing, steaming, and baking pork ribs into mushy oblivion.

A shame, as there is nothing quite like a properly smoke-roasted pork rib glazed with zingy barbecue sauce.

There was a time when this was considered a poorman’s dish.  Perhaps it still is, but smoked pork ribs are a delicacy in my home.  We buy our pork by the side, and currently one side of pork lasts us about one year.  This means that we get at most one full slab of side ribs and one full slab of back ribs for every 365 days.  As … Continue reading.

Tourtière – Pork Pie

A traditional tourtière made for a NewYear's Eve réveillonTourtière is made differently in every home, and can incite intense feelings of loyalty to ones mother.  I will proceed cautiously with a definition, but I warn you: there are lots of qualifiers in this post.

Tourtière is meat pie.  It is often based on pork, though veal and game are also common.  If anyone tells you that it was traditionally made with pigeon, you can politely dismiss their story as folklore.  A false etymology has developed because of the similarity between the words for the pie tourtière and the Quebecois word for the now-extinct passenger pigeon, tourte.  Certainly many a pigeon has been baked into pie, but the similarity between the two words is entirely coincidental.  Tourte also … Continue reading.

Pork Liver Pâté

Seared liver and ground pork

“What the hell is pâté?”

Pâté is fancy French meatloaf: it’s ground meat, bound with dairy, eggs, and bread.  The only difference is that pâté usually contains some liver, and it’s usually eaten cold.  If it’s baked in a special ceramic dish, it can be called a terrine.

Within that definition, there is a spectrum of pâtés that runs from rustic to refined. The two qualities that decide a pâté’s place on the spectrum are texture and ingredients. Rustic pâtés are coarser in texture and made with cheaper, heartier ingredients, like liver. They are often described by words like campagne (“country”), grandmère (“grandma”), and maison (“house”). Refined pâtés have a finer, creamier texture and feature meat more prominently than liver. … Continue reading.

Pig Kill in Sangudo, Alberta

It takes a village to kill a pig.

-Jeffrey Steingarten


The drip cooler at Sangudo Custom MeatsThis happened ages ago, back in September, and Kevin has long since posted a fantastic video about it, but I want to write about a pork butchery workshop that took place out in Sangudo, Alberta.  The workshop was put together by Kevin Kossowan, and hosted by Jeff Senger of Sangudo Custom Meats.  The day started with the killing and processing of one of Jeff’s own pigs.  Since it was Saturday and there were no inspectors present, the kill took place on Jeff’s farm, then the pig was processed at Sangudo Meats.  The day continued with a hands-on meat-cutting class, and finally some demonstrations of sausage-making and other charcuterie preparations.  … Continue reading.

Pork Belly

While the most famous incarnation of this cut of pork is bacon, fresh pork belly has become very popular over the last few years.  In the butcher shop it is also called pork side, or side meat.  Before I started buying pigs by the side, I ordered slabs of belly from Irvings Farm Fresh, a 5 lb slab costing somewhere around $25.

A Quick Tour of the Pork Belly

Below is a slab of pork belly.  You’re looking at the inside of the pig; the opposite side is covered with skin.  The right side of this slab would have connected to the front shoulder of the hog.  The left side would have connected to the hind leg.  The top … Continue reading.

Pork Tongue

A brined, cooked, peeled pig's tongueThe tongue is one of those cuts that sounds way, way weirder than it really is.

The tongue has two sections.  There’s the part that we usually think of when we consider an animal’s tongue: the part at the front that can move freely around the mouth.  Then there’s the base, at the back of the mouth.  The meat from these two sections is different.

The tip meat has a very close, dense texture, and is lean. The base meat has a coarser texture, and is a bit fatty.

The meat from both sections is very tough in its raw state.  As you can imagine, the tongue is a highly exercised muscle, and requires extensive cooking at low temperatures, usually … Continue reading.

Peameal Bacon

Slices of homemade peameal baconIt’s always confused me that Americans call back bacon “Canadian bacon,” when it’s much more associated with Britain than Canada.  To my knowledge the only uniquely Canadian form of bacon is peameal bacon: cured pork loin rolled in ground split peas, which keeps the surface of the meat dry and inhibits microbial growth.  Sometime over the past century cornmeal has taken the place of peameal, but the name hasn’t changed.

This week I made two forms of peameal bacon: the contemporary favourite – lean, centre-cut pork loin, fat trimmed down, brined and rolled in cornmeal – and a rustic recontruction, inspired by the fantastic book The Art of Living According to Joe Beef.   I left an inch or two … Continue reading.

Smoked Pork Loin – Kassler Rippchen

The cured loin, smoking on the barbecueThis is hands down my favourite preparation of pork loin: brine-cured, smoked, and sliced into thick ham chops.

While the eye of loin is a very lean, mild-tasting muscle, it is surrounded by large slabs of fat: fatback on top, and the streaky side meat that becomes bacon.  Grilling or pan-frying a large pork chop with all this fat usually results in either overcooked meat or under-rendered fat.  By slowly bringing this roast up to temperature over several hours in a smoker, we render all that fat without overcooking the meat.  The final dish is somewhere between bacon and ham.

In Germany this preparation goes by the name Kassler Rippchen, which literally means “little ribs from Kassel”.

Details.  Use … Continue reading.

A Fall Dinner, in August

I had to doublecheck my calendar: it’s still August, isn’t it?

This past Saturday I stood on my deck, wearing a sweater, tending a barbecue that was puffing applewood smoke into the yard.  Within the ‘cue was a cured pork loin.  Within the house, on the kitchen counter, was a head of cabbage.  Beside it, a jug of cider, weakly alcoholic, tart, sweet, faintly effervescent.

I have high hopes that there will be a few more weeks of heat, and a few more summer storms, but the last few days at my house have felt like fall.


A Fall Dinner, in August

A jug of the year's first ciderPart One: Windfall Hard Cider (Lisa’s Special No. 8)

The cider was the inspiration, the centre of … Continue reading.


A sheet of puffy, happy pork cracklingCrackling is pig skin, cooked so that it’s crisp.  Since skin contains, and is often adjacent to, a good deal of fat, it benefits from a long, slow, rendering process, followed by a quick, high-heat crisping process.

You can form perfectly good crackling while cooking a skin-on pork roast, so long as the meat beneath the skin is a cut that also benefits from a long, slow cook.  Pork head, shoulder, and hock come to mind.  After the slow cook, raise the oven temperature to 425°F and bake until the skin becomes brittle, almost glass-like.

You can also cut the skin from the meat, then render and crisp it on its own.  This yields a product more like commercial pork … Continue reading.