Chops and Tenderloin
Pork loves fruit as a companion. We've glazed pork chops with a fermented blueberry paste recommended by the Noma team - and they were amazing. For a fruity accompaniment that doesn't require a week-long fermentation project, try Serious Eat's cherry sauce or their apricot glaze recipe which also has you kebab-ify your chops.
This recipe optimizes for moist Tenderloin and easy clean-up. (Anyone shy about butter or garlic may need to tone the recipe down a little... but we have been pleased with following the recipe as is.) It also works great with pork chops.
A recipe named Last Meal Ribs says it all. Consider it for both Baby Back ribs and Spare ribs. Click through for the recipe, but wander around the Amazing Ribs website for tips and wisdom on all things ribs.
Country-Style Ribs aren't really ribs... they come from where the shoulder meets the loin. Consequently cooking style and taste profile mirrors shoulder roasts. Our family has really enjoyed this sweet & sour braise.
We fell in love with Kalua Pig, a Hawaiian heritage dish, when we honeymooned in the 50th state. It's delicious in an elemental way, with pork shoulder (often Boston Butt but Picnic roast is also great) and just a few seasonings, and so it's extremely easy to make in a slow cooker or Instant Pot. (It utilizes a few strips of bacon as well.)
Another terrific use for these same cuts is Korean bo ssam, and specifically the iconic modern take created by David Chang and Momofuku. (Once again, the recipe states the Butt is preferred, but in our experience, making this unassailably amazing dish with the Picnic turns out plenty delicious.)
In this recipe adapted from an Alice Waters original, the shoulder (Butt or Picnic) is braised in a spice mix of unlikely bedfellows hot chiles (ancho and chipotle) and marjoram (or oregano).
Here's a creative, Italian-inspired approach to cooking that Boston Butt: Porchetta-style!
Salvadorans are among the most populous immigrant groups in our area, and among their many contributions include pupusas. Mmm, pupusas... These corn patties can have a range of fillings but pork is classic, using Butt, Picnic or even Rib meat.
Asian cuisines are of course replete with wonderful belly recipes. Subscriber Brittany M. of Southeast DC recommends this Korean take which fries the belly. In our household recently, we used the belly roast in a version of Momofuku's recipe for Ramen, then with the remaining roast, Anne made an improvised fried rice.
Pork belly: First in ramen, then in fried rice
Roasts' Second Lives
If your roast is big enough, you can give yourself a range of options to repurpose leftovers.
We like to repurpose leftover Kalua Pig for taco night, adding some citrus and either chili powder or adobo seasoning. Alternatively, use this carnitas recipe -- either as guidance as you turn your garlic-infused Boston Butt or Picnic roast leftovers into taco filling, or to turn the whole cut into a carnitas dish.
Of course, you can always turn your Boston Butt or Picnic into pulled pork. We start with Meathead Goldwyn's Memphis Dust dry rub, and we then slather it with BBQ sauce from Pierce's BBQ of Williamsburg, which is a longtime favorite of Anne's.
A few other pork shoulder roast second-life dishes Anne has made in our house:
- Borscht, using both the cooking liquid from the first cook, and bits of pork
- Cuban sandwiches
And Customer Carol R. of Northwest DC recommends this Brunswick Stew recipe as a worthy use of pork shoulder leftovers.
Bacon (in its Ugly form)
Nobody needs a recipe to make plain-old bacon for breakfast, but we wanted to share some ideas for utilizing Near Country Ugly Bacon (which consists of Ends, as well as especially fatty pieces), for delicious results. We asked some of our customers who most commonly choose Ugly Bacon as an Add-On to share what they create. Here's what they said:
- Pasta Carbonara - While there are plenty of recipes available online, Pauline C. of Alexandria has shared her own recipe with us!
- Frisée salad
- Beef Bourguignon
- Lamb ragú
- Bacon Fried Rice - Pro tip from Angela C. of Bethesda: "Chunky “uglies” can be diced. Extra fatty ends can be rendered so the whole dish gets coated in bacon flavor"
- One-Pan Breakfast Potato - a simple recipe created and shared by John P. of Clarksburg!
- Generally, anything that calls for lardons
A pro tip from Lia B. of Northeast DC: "Ugly Bacon cuts surprisingly well while still frozen, which is what I find to be the best part! You can keep it frozen while still using it - a great quality for small households to reduce waste."
Ground pork sometimes gets sidelined because its use in sausage is so prized, and because beef is our culture's default for ground meat, but there are myriad ways to create wonderful dishes that capitalize on ground pork's earthy depth and resonance with strong flavors fruity, tangy, herbaceous and smokey.
Southeast Asian ideas
Spicy meatballs are great on varied dishes, but why not put them into some crusty French bread with crisp pickled veggies as Bahn Mi? There are not too many steps in this recipe so it makes a great case for being a weeknight staple.
It’s truly impressive how much flavor this Thai Basil Pork dish packs for being a quick and easy weeknight meal. Thai basil can be difficult to source; standard Italian basil is a reasonable substitute. Similarly for dark soy sauce: you can opt for regular soy sauce, adding a pinch of brown sugar. To make this a well-rounded meal, I like to add some asparagus or green beans, cut on a bias, about 1 inch pieces. Sautee those first, set them aside, and then add them back to the meat once everything is finished cooking to warm them through.
Thai cuisine also uses ground pork, complemented with cooling vegetables, in Larb. This recipe creates a classic Larb, and doesn't require any hard-to-source Thai ingredients (except for coriander root for which cumin is a viable substitute; also recall that coriander stems = cilantro stems).
East Asian ideas
We love this braised eggplant pork dish because of its versatility. It can be served over rice or as a “one-pot” noodle dish. Don’t skip the step where you soak the eggplant in a saltwater solution. This helps break down the eggplant more efficiently, resulting in a softer, less oily final product. Ground bean paste may be a difficult ingredient to find but hoisin sauce is not, and it works great as a substitute. If you don’t have a wok, use a standard heavy-bottomed pot (cook time will take a bit longer).
Never made dumplings? Here's a dead-simple introduction. The dough is only two ingredients and it comes together rather quickly. If you don’t have Shaoxing wine, dry sherry is a good substitute.
Our country, if not necessarily the Mid-Atlantic, is in fact home to some great recipes focused on ground pork. From nearby South Carolina, these BBQ pork burgers are inspired by pulled pork, and packed with flavor with the addition of bacon (!) and spices. Top them with a “homemade” honey-mustard and some crisp cabbage. This porky sandwich gets our fat stamp of approval.
A true one-pot meal, this take on New Orleans Dirty Rice simplifies the traditional recipe a bit, subbing in ground pork for giblets and sausage. You can make this as a side dish or double the amount of ground pork and enjoy it on its own.
- Cuba: Picadillo is called "comfort food," but that label undersells what a sensory explosion its ingredients layer over ground meat, potato and rice (olives! capers! raisins! garlic! tamarind! tomato!).
- Denmark: Whether you think they're more like "flattened Swedish meatballs" or an actual Scandinavian take on a burger, these Danish pork burgers use dairy and Saltines (!) to create perfect patties.
- Poland: Sure it’s easy to find pierogies in the freezer aisle but why not make them yourself? We recommend serving with sour cream and apple sauce for the full experience.
- Two words: Sausage. Dogs. Using Near Country Kielbasa for a Polish take.
- Customers Felix and Sarah from Arlington used this Schweinshaxe recipe and our Pork Shanks to create a skinless version of the Bavarian classic.
- We've been inspired by how Espita Mezcaleria, a terrific restaurant and mezcal bar in DC's Shaw neighborhood, turns Pork shanks into "Chamorro... crispy pork shank confit carnitas style." The folks at Espita haven't shared their recipe, but this Mexican-style braise is an approximation, without the crispy bark from Espita's showstopping version.
- Our Smoked Hams can sub in for corned ham to make local delicacy Maryland Stuffed Ham!
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