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This Little Piggy…

12 Dec

.. ended up on our dinner table. It was delicious.

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This past weekend we participated in the South Texas version of autumn hunting. It was 80 degrees during the day and in the 60s at night. There was no bundling up against the cold, sipping hot chocolate. We did, however have a great campfire in a very nice fire pit. There was a constant gulf breeze that made the evening and nighttime very pleasant. There is nothing that compares to sitting around a campfire, leaning back in a camp chair and watching the stars!
My deerslayers harvested some wonderful wild pig. It is not the same as javelina. Wild pork is heavenly meat that doesn’t have the added fat from force-feeding, or the hormones, dyes, or antibiotics that commercially raised pork could.
These pigs are feral hogs that escaped domestic life about 400 years ago when the Spanish were trapsing across the country looking for gold. These wild pigs reproduced with abandon and have taken over much of Texas. Farmers and ranchers alike are eager to be rid of the animals because they root up the land about as much passion as they reproduce. Right! With abandon! They can decimate entire areas in little time. Anyway, the point is that the ranchers and farmers are as pleased to have us harvest the pigs as we are to do so.

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I love to prepare this meat. Even more, I love having it in the freezer. As I’ve mentioned previously, my freezer was bare for the first time in 28 years so I was very excited when my deerslayers dragged in some of God’s bounty. With the hams, shanks, fore-quarters, backstraps, tenderloins, and soup meat, I can prepare any number of great meals. It makes me feel “self-sustaining”. I’m even going to take a walk on the wild side and prepare the liver and heart tonight. I’ll get back to you on that one. If any of you have recipes for pork organ meat, let me know!

Our first celebratory meal from our pig harvest was a seared pork backstrap with balsamic reduction, steamed broccoli and (gasp) Velveeta cheese sauce. Don’t scoff until you’ve tried it. The cheese sauce is a nod to one of my mentors, Christine Friesenhahn of Texana’s Kitchen in her entry, “White Trash Wednesday”.

Seared Pork Backstrap with Balsamic Reduction and
Steamed Broccoli with Velveeta Cheese Sauce of Awesomeness
Serves about 4 people
1 wild pork backstrap
salt & pepper mix
olive oil
Balsamic vinegar or balsamic glaze (I recently found the BEST Texas balsamic vinegars and olive oils at a farmers’ market in San Antonio. What a great variety of interesting flavors. Ya gotta try ’em.Texas Olive Ranch.) I used the pomegranate balsamic vinegar for this recipe! Wow!
broccoli florettes

Velveeta cheese sauce of Awesomeness
1/4 brick of Velveeta, cut into chunks
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp. dry mustard
a scant sprinkling of cayenne

I’m going to start this recipe with a tutorial on cutting a backstrap in preparation for cooking.

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The backstrap is a pretty long muscle.

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First, I use my favorite filleting knife to remove the white layer of “skin”or fascia.

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Then I cut it into three pieces of equal length that will fit easily into my cast iron skillet.

Liberally season the meat on all sides with salt, pepper, and garlic powder mix.

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Sear the backstrap in a hot skillet with a little olive oil.

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Then place the browned meat in a 9 x 13 oven-proof pan and cook at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. The time will vary slightly depending on how long you seared it, how hot the pan was, etc. Because we’re cooking pork, it’s important that the meat be adequately cooked through, but not dry. Since the muscle is thicker on one end that the other, place the thinnest 1/3 between the other two. This will prevent the skinny piece from overcooking.

Twenty minutes usually is enough time for a medium sized wild pig. My daughter wants everyone to know that it’s important that the ovenproof pan NOT have a plastic cutting board under it when it’s placed in the oven. ‘Nuf said.
While the meat is resting for the required 10 minutes, steam some broccoli and pour some balsamic vinegar into the skillet in which you browned the meat.

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Use a whisk to scrape up the crusty yumminess that was left behind.

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If you’re using a balsamic glaze, you’re ready to go with an elegant sauce for your meat. you’re using balsamic vinegar, heat the sauce until it reduces and thickens. (Don’t forget the great olive oils and balsamic vinegars that are available from Texas Olive Ranch. I bought six!)

After you slice the meat, add the remaining meat juices to the sauce.

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Sometimes, I prepare a side of quinoa, also. Very elegant, kid-friendly, and super fast. Hunter-friendly and fabulous, too!

 

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