Cooking queen Helen Rennie discovered pork is not all the same
One of my readers introduced me to a food blog this week I was not previously familiar with. It's called Beyond Salmon (which lists my friend and favorite low-carb cooking blogger, Kalyn Denny from Kalyn's Kitchen, in its blogroll) by that attractive woman from the Boston, Massachusetts area you see above named Helen Rennie.
It is obvious from what I have read about Helen that cooking has always been a deeply motivating desire in her life and it shows from the intense interest she has experienced with it throughout her entire life. Although her educational training was in computer science, a trip to France right after college must have rekindled the passion she has for cooking and eating well.
While living near the Mediterranean Sea, Helen grew quite fond of the creatures of the water and how to make them look and taste as succulent as possible. She brought that excitement about good food back with her to the United States and decided to start teaching cooking classes first at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education and now in her home as a fun and unique alternative to eating out with your friends. Neat idea, Helen!
In fact, her "One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish" class has been far and away the most popular class Helen teaches. If you live in the Boston/Cambridge, MA area and would like to learn more about "Helen's Kitchen," then please visit her web site for more information about her schedule, the costs involved, and what you need to bring with you for this rare and interesting cooking excursion. It makes me wish I lived there to try it for myself! :D Road trip!
Anywho, in a slight departure from her love of fish, Helen Rennie wrote an excellent column on whether buying quality pork is worth it this week in a post at her "Beyond Salmon" blog entitled "Pigepiphany." While this isn't necessarily a "low-carb blog," per se, I think you'll find a kindred spirit in Helen towards low-carb cooking with her candid comments regarding how she describes fat ("The words 'beautifully lean' would be a compliment for a model, not for a pig.") in her post. :)
One of the things I have grown to appreciate more since I lost 180 pounds on the low-carb lifestyle is the QUALITY of food I put in my mouth. The junk I used to allow to cross my lips makes me shudder even to think about it now, but things have definitely changed. While I wish I could afford to only buy the best quality of food across the board, the reality is I cannot with my limited budget. Helen set out to prove pork is pork and there's really no difference between the cheap and expensive cuts.
But Helen has now convinced me to try a high-quality piece of pork called Kurobuta after a recent taste test she did with the best selection of pork she could find. It took her a while to find this fine piece of meat at the cool price tag of $20/pound (EEEK!), but she said it was so worth it. It had BETTER be at THAT price!!!
She wanted to get the best because of her past experience with "other" pork.
"American pork is bred for leanness to meet consumers’ unquenchable thirst for all meats to look and taste like chicken," Helen wrote at her blog. "Nothing against chicken, but people’s obsession with it is absurd. If American food industry could breed chicken in fish, pork, beef, and lamb flavors, they would. Since food science hasn’t reached such heights yet, we settle for 'chicken of the sea' tuna and the 'other white meat' pork."
I like chicken personally, but my recent revelation about how it is artificially "chargrilled" is changing my mind. I suppose most people would be horrified to know about how much junk is in most of the foods we eat, but obviously not too many people care.
But the difference in the look of quality pork is amazing! Check this out:
This is the inside of a regular grilled pork chop
Now here is the inside of a Kurobuta grilled pork chop
As if the "look" of this amazing cut of pork isn't enough to make you want to run right down to your butcher shop to get some of this right now, then read how Helen describes the experience of eating this fine selection of meat.
"Oh my! This is the part where words escape me. You didn’t need a knife. You didn’t even need a fork. The only reason you needed teeth was to get the pieces into your mouth. From then on, they just melted away. If this was a wine, I’d say it had a nice long finish of a Burgundy Grand Cru, but instead of truffles and violets, it tasted like a platonic ideal of a pig -- more flavorful than ribs, more tender than a tenderloin, more tasty than any pork I’ve ever had."
Is anyone else experiencing a watery mouth right about now itching to eat some Kurobuta pork chops?! As for the regular pork chop, Helen said it was "like drinking Two Buck Chuck." LOL! That just goes to show you how our tastebuds can become so accustomed to the garbage we place on our tongues that we forget there's a LOT better food out there to be eaten and enjoyed. THANK YOU for sharing your experiment with us, Helen, because it proves yet again that you really do get what you pay for with food.
Be sure to visit Helen Rennie's fantastic blog "Beyond Salmon" often for more witty and educational posts like this one on pork and feel free to e-mail her with your cooking questions. Be sure to tell her Jimmy "Livin' La Vida Low-Carb" Man sent you.