Whenever I can, I buy a nice locally raised slab of protein at the farmers market. While we know it is pretty easy to find a variety of locally grown produce, it hasn’t always been easy to get fresh meat. Thankfully, times have changed.
Now we can find fresh poultry, beef, pork and more — raised in our region — at the farmers market and grocery stores in town. As you can expect, the texture and flavor is markedly different. Maybe it is because fresh, less-traveled meat just tastes better or maybe it is because we feel good supporting our local farming friends. Either way, your taste buds win.
I know what you’re thinking — we don’t often see local meat in the weekly grocery circular. Locally farmed fresh meats can cost slightly more due to the family farm business model, but it is can be well worth it. You may find that it is not always as big a splurge as you might expect.
When I do get my hands on a beautiful, fresh cut of meat, like a Berkshire hog pork belly, I am suddenly under pressure to cook it perfectly.
A couple of weeks ago, I found myself in possession of one such heritage breed pork belly from a local farm. Pork belly is one of the hottest trends in restaurants, prepared in ways influenced by East Asia, Europe and North America. I thought surely I could pull off juicy glazed pork belly at home, right? Turns out, I could — and it was easy. The key is to cook it with the skin on so the juices flow through the layers of meat and marble, making each bite tender and juicy with a crispy, crackling crust.
I decided butternut squash would be perfect to round out this rustic meal. Roasted is one of my favorite ways to enjoy any squashes, as well as root vegetables. Toss small, thick pieces of your favorite squash in a seasoned dressing and let them roast alongside your pork. You can spend that roasting time having a cocktail or a glass of sweet tea on the porch.