Apple-fed pastured pig parts, brought to you by Buick | Bleader

Monday, October 22, 2012

Apple-fed pastured pig parts, brought to you by Buick

Posted By on 10.22.12 at 04:00 PM

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sirloin in the raw
Somewhere south of Grand Rapids, the Michigan state police pulled us over. This had the potential to sour the agreement the Butcher & Larder's Rob Levitt had made with the Buick marketing people who loaned him the car. Buick was a sponsor of the Chicago Gourmet festival a few weeks earlier, and its flacks had been busy distributing loaner vehicles among prominent Chicago food types in an effort to "change the image" of the brand.

"What's the image of a Buick?" Levitt recalled asking when he was offered the new 2013 Regal for a week.

"Uhhh . . . , " replied the Buick rep.

"You mean like something my grandpa would drive?"

"Well, yeah," she replied. Levitt wasn't sure how he was supposed to improve on that. Butchers were the new rock stars, like, so three years ago. But he did have a plan for the car. He was going to use it to make the six-hour trip to Northport, Michigan, to kill and butcher the pig he'd purchased from Bare Knuckle Farm. There was nothing in the rider that said he couldn't haul home a bunch of raw pig parts, but it did stipulate he couldn't do anything illegal with car, and he was doing 80-something when the trooper pulled us over.

Johnny Law began by flashlighting Danielle Kaplan and me, crammed in the backseat among our bags, then Levitt and Chris Turner up front.

"Where you coming from?" he asked.

"Just visiting friends on their farm in Northport."

"You have any guns or drugs in the car?" he asked us. "You ever been in any trouble with guns or drugs?"

An alert lawman might have noticed the light spackling of mud and blood on our boots and pants and taken us for descendants of the Manson family. After he collected our IDs and took them back to his car to check our story, we began to worry about what sort of hassles we might endure if he continued to grill us and we weren't careful with our answers.

"What were you doing on the farm?"

"Killing a pig."

"What's in the trunk?"

"A dead pig."

"You got a smart mouth, boy."

"All pigs must die."

In the end he returned to the car and paused dramatically before returning our IDs and going for the funny: "I'm not going to give you a ticket, but next time, rent a van. You're packed in there like sardines."

Heh, ehhh . . .

So we went on our way, Levitt returned the Regal, and as far as I know the Buick people have no idea he exceeded the Michigan speed limit with a disarticulated pig bundled in black garbage bags in the trunk. The brand remains unsullied by the stain of law breaking, and burnished by its association with the cutting edge of contemporary butchery. Hooray for marketing!

Obligatory cooking notes: I purchased a three-and-a-half-pound sirloin roast of apple-, pear-, chestnut-, and whey-fed pork from Levitt. I did nothing more complicated with it than rub it with salt, pepper, sage, and thyme, and roast it for an hour and a half, until it showed just the barest blush when sliced. The fat cap on this piece of meat was thick and ivory white, and I figured I'd have plenty of it to melt down into a confit medium or for facial moisturizer. But it was so delicious it just got demolished right along with the juicy, dense, veritably sweet meat.

Pastured pork is incomparable. We need more of it.

roasted pork sirloin

Mike Sula writes about cooking every Monday.

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