If you're feeling social this weekend, you may have a choice to make...Cinco de Mayo or Derby? Or maybe you will be celebrating both! Either way, pork plays a big role in the dishes for these days.
Chorizo and Carnitas are staples of a Cinco de Mayo celebration. There are so many ways to serve them that fit any need...tacos, nachos, enchiladas, the list goes on and on!
On the other hand, there's no more iconic food than a Hot Brown to go with your mint Julep on Derby Day. Turkey may be a part of the dish, but everyone knows that the bacon is the real star!
Chorizo may be the simplest of these. All you have to do is purchase the chorizo and cook it into crumbles. You'll want to strain off any excess grease before throwing them into some small corn tortillas to make street tacos, or adding them to your favorite melted cheese to make some Queso Fundito. See the simple queso recipe below.
Carnitas made from a pork Boston butt aka pork shoulder isn't too difficult either and will be another great addition for street tacos. You can even make carnitas using your instapot if you want to speed up the process a bit. Check out this great recipe.
But don't forget to get the pork out of the freezer and allow it to thaw at least a day. A rule of thumb is to allow meat to thaw in the refrigerator for 6 hours per lb.
The classic Hot Brown originated in the Brown Hotel in Louisville, KY and has been a staple that's linked as closely as a the mint Julep to horse races. A hot brown is basically an open-faced Sandwich that starts with white bread toast, is topped heavily with sliced turkey, tomatoes and a creamy Parmesan sauce, and then broiled in the oven. Bacon is the cherry on top...two slices of perfectly crisp bacon should cross the top of the sandwich. Here's a recipe of the classic Hot Brown. But if you want to make it more of a finger food, then I would suggest making mini builds, piling all the ingredients on toasted crostini bread and broiling it briefly to get the cheese to bubble and brown.
P.S. Great Food starts with great ingredients. You can get your butts, bacon, and chorizo through our website or If you're local to central Ohio, visit one of the shops that sells our product!
I saw a ham at the grocery store for less than $1 per pound today. I also saw a ham for $7 per pound today. How can the price be so different? There are several reasons; some you can see and some you can’t see. One very important thing to look at is the fine print of what the ham is actually called. A ham is rarely just labeled as “Ham”. In fact, there are rules that require specific labeling of hams as you add water and other ingredients. For example, there’s a lot more ham in “Ham with natural juices” than there is in “Ham – water added” and there’s even less ham (and more water) in “Ham and Water Product.”
Take-away: Cheaper hams are usually made with more water or other ingredients. You’re able to pay less since you’re buying water, not ham.
Meat quality is crucial when you’re looking for your perfect ham. Not all pigs are the same! If you want a lean ham, less flavorful ham (usually blander flavored), you can find that in any grocery store from many well-known brands. But if you’re interested in finding the best flavor, you probably want to look at the breed of pig. Many old-world breeds are known for their naturally incredible flavor. That flavor comes from the fat naturally occurring inside the muscle (called marbling) that old world breeds tend to have a lot of! If you’re looking for flavor, one breed you should be looking for is Mangalitsa. For those who know their beef, Mangalitsa is to Berkshire what Waygu is to Angus – the best you can get!
Take-away: If you want flavor, go for the heritage breeds like Mangalitsa that have lots of marbling (fat inside the muscle) to make sure you’re getting incredible flavor!
If you want to impress your friends and family, look for pork that is Mangalitsa crossed with other heritage breeds like Red Wattle or Glouchester Old Spot. It’s just like your heirloom tomatoes, these breeds have been relatively untouched and so they have been able to maintain their natural deliciousness! We have found that heritage breed ham is absolutely mouth-watering and it may even convince you that ham is for more than just the holidays!
Remember though, heritage breeds often come from small farms and will be delivered frozen, so be sure to get yours soon so it has 2-3 days to thaw! As a little side note, most grocery store hams are frozen at some point, and then thawed before they're delivered to the store.
Contact us if you want an incredible ham on your table this Easter.
Sarah grew up raising pigs on her family farm. She has spent most of the last 15 years studying and teaching about meat, animal welfare, and food safety. She has a passion for pigs, pork chops, and teaching. It is her goal to help meat eaters understand what they're buying and how best to cook it, all the while getting into the nerdy nitty gritty details about meat and animals.