Doesn’t the headline make you feel just a little bit uncomfortable? “He’s going to do something ironic and make us feel awful about eating pork.” “He’s going to pull at our heartstrings and make us think of the three little piggies and their curly tails.” “He’s possibly turned into a vegetarian!” Wrong on all counts. I just want to make the case for eating free-range, rather than cement cubicle raised, pork. That’s not unreasonable, is it?
The bit we have to face is that truly free-range animals have a better life (It wouldn’t be difficult.) than those brought up in artificial light, in a small concrete pen with little prospect of ever developing any real muscle or flesh tone. By letting the critters run about in the fresh air, they get tastier. I’m not going to make the case on any humanitarian grounds. You can settle your own accounts on that score. A nice piece of free range pork tastes better. I know. I just cooked Roast Loin of Pork with Apple. It was delicious.
The first thing I did was get my hands on a nice piece of free range pork. Not as easy to do as one might think. Given that it had spent most of its life out in the air, I thought it best to take my ingredients shot out there too.
- A six-rib joint of pork loin, with skin on and bones in.
- Olive oil to rub the skin.
- Salt and pepper to season.
- A few apples (Granny Smith in this case)
- Sugar to enhance the apples
The apples are enhanced by the addition of a few drops of Highbank Orchard Syrup. It’s a real apple treat. Grab some if you can. First thing to do is to rub the pork skin all over with oil. I used a cheaper olive oil for this. Then season it very well all over the skin.
Wrap the tips of the bones with foil to prevent them burning and causing acrid tastes. Pop the pork into a hot oven at 220ºC with the fan for 20 minutes. Then, turn the fan off and reduce the oven to 200ºC and cook (this depends on weight and preference) until done. I used a meat thermometer and cooked the pork until it hit an internal temperature of 71ºC.
With about half an hour to go on the pork cooking (Sorry, you will have to work this bit out for yourself) half the apples and rub them in the sugar.
Add a few drops of the orchard syrup, if you have any.
Pop the apples in the oven and let them break down in while the pork cooks.
Remove the pork and let it rest for about 10 minutes. This will be a critical time for you. For this brief time, you will be very, very tempted to break the delicious crackling and have just a little piece. The crackling is excellent. That’s partly because of the quality of the meat. With cement pen raised pork, you tend to end up with a more rubbery skin. Not nice.
When the pork has rested, Carve it between the bones and serve it.
I made a little gravy from the pork juices and some of the apple syrup. I served the pork with a nice creamy mash and the apple.
Make your own moral call on cement pen pork. I’m making the taste call on free range. This was simple to prepare and really, really fantastic to eat. It really is the palatable truth.