NC Pork is Porktastic!

(Disclosure: I am honored to partner with the NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the “Got To Be NC” Pork Promotion to bring you this blog post and recipes using NC Pork from Bull City Farm)


This month I had another opportunity to work with the farmer’s at Durham Roots Farmer’s Market in conjunction with the NC Dept. of Ag. Specifically to cook and talk about the health benefits behind eating locally raised NC Pork. I have to say up front, I am a lover of “the other white meat,” and always have been. What I had forgotten though, was that eating local pork tastes that much better.

At Bull City Farm, Farmer Sam raises Mangalitsa, Guinea Hog and Berkshire crosses. “We’ve chosen these breeds because of their ability to do well on pasture. We’ve settled on focusing on the Mangalitsa and Berkshires mainly because of their size and in the case of the mangalitsa their taste” said Sam.

Bull City Farm

More about the Bull City Farm Breeds:

“Our pigs are on pasture 100% of the time. We feed a pelleted food optimized the health of the animal and heavily supplemented with seconds from area organic vegetable farms. Our heritage mixed breed pigs are rotated frequently so they have fresh forages, roots to dig up and bugs to eat. Most importantly, they have the opportunity to run around and generally behave like pigs.  

We raise our pigs outside and you’ll taste the difference compared to conventionally raised pork. Ours is sweeter, more flavorful and you’ll have the additional peace of mind that comes from knowing they had a great life.”

There is definitely a difference between the breeds. On the Saturday morning I was at the Durham Roots Market, Local 22 was sampling Sam’s pork and I was amazed by the difference in taste between each breed. I admit, my favorite was the Mangalista and so I brought home two bone in pork chops. Recipe below.

Sam sampling her pork cooked by Local 22 restaurant in Durham.

A great story from Sam behind the Mangalista Pigs at Bull City Farm:

“We have the BEST friends! Two such friends asked us to partner with them in bringing this Hungarian breed to NC. Elizabeth and Roberto are the owners of the very successful Old Havana Sandwich Shop in downtown Durham. They were looking for a breed suitable for curing and came across the mangalitsa (also spelled mangalica). All they needed was a farmer friend to raise them and love them. Of course, they thought of us. Our herd of Mangalitsas are a fabulous addition to the farm…….we’re enjoying them in all their hairy glory.” This article is well written and full of great information about the breed.

From Roberto Copa Matos, Chef and Co-Owner of Old Havana Sandwich Shop

“Sourcing locally increases the diversity of producers (arts, agriculture, crafts, etc) which in turns makes our particular community in Durham and the greater Triangle more resilient in today’s interconnected global system.”

“The mangalitsa breed has an old and interesting history tied to the ups and downs of varied social systems, spanning from the Austro-Hungarian empire to communism to today’s capitalism. This peaked our interest. But mostly, we wanted to help introduce this breed to our area because of its exceptional quality of meat and fat. The mangalitsa is especially well suited to curing, something that we are particularly interested in pursuing.”

Baby Mangalista Pigs via Bull City Farm

Be sure to stop into Old Havana Sandwich Shop and enjoy this amazing pork in a cuban sandwich, or pick some up at the market on Saturday mornings to prepare at home.


To understand the health benefits of eating pork I went the the NC Pork Council website and found this information. Good to know!

According to the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society, and the United States Department of Agriculture’s Nutrition and Your Health, Dietary Guidelines for Americans, healthful, nutritious eating patterns can stem from many combinations of foods from all of the five major food groups including the meat group.

  • Peppered Pork TenderloinLess than 50% of the fat in pork, beef, and veal is saturated.
  • The average fat and cholesterol content of trimmed, lean pork is 31% lower today than it was 20 years ago.
  • The amount of cholesterol in pork is no more than that of chicken or turkey. A three ounce serving of cooked lean pork has 78mg of cholesterol compared with 76mg in cooked, skinless chicken.
  • Pork today is very lean and shouldn’t be overcooked. Cook pork roasts, tenderloins, and chops to an internal temperature of 145°, followed by a three minute rest time, Ground pork, like all ground meat, should be cooked to 160°.
  • In addition to protein, pork is an excellent source of zinc, vitamins B12 and B5, thiamine, and iron.
    Protein is the building block for the body. It strengthens the immune system and helps maintain the blood. The protein in meat (pork) is “complete” protein — it contains vitamins, minerals, and amino acids.
  • Growth hormones are NOT used in pork production.
  • Pork is the number one consumed meat in the world.
  • Pork is the most versatile meat — it can be marinated, dry rubbed, roasted, microwaved, grilled, skewered, pan-fried, stir-fried, boiled, barbecued, and baked.
  • Pork can be included on a heart-healthy menu with six outstanding cuts.

So let’s get cooking shall we!

Slow Cooked Pork Shoulder (this recipe is VERY basic. I did this so that the pork could be transformed into multiple dishes when done. See notes at end of recipe)


1 4-5lb pork shoulder

salt and pepper

1 cup pork or chicken stock


Score pork fat side in a criss cross, avoid cutting into pork

Rub salt and pepper into pork on all sides

brown pork over medium to high heat until brown on all sides

Add meat to slow cooker and add stock

Cook on low for 6 hours

NOTE: If you want to add more flavor, add some peeled garlic cloves and quartered onions to surround the pork. And since it’s apple season, consider quartering an apple and adding it in with the onion and garlic. Yum!

To Serve

  1. Bahn Mi: add pulled pork to french bread and add pickled daikon and carrot, cilantro and jalapeño slices. drizzle over with stock and enjoy.
  2. Top steamed rice with pulled pork and drizzle with soy sauce. serve salted boy chop, broccoli or snap peas on the side. I like to add a drizzle of sesame oil to the veggies when finished cooking.
  3. Make your own version of a cuban sandwich by placing pulled pork  and honey ham topped with swiss cheese on a piece of aluminum foil. Broil in the oven on high until cheese is melted. To a bun, add yellow mustard and dill pickles, add pork and cheese. If you want the bread to be toasted, add all ingredients to bun, wrap in foil and heat in a 350 degree oven until cheese is melted and bread is toasty. Eat!

Grilled Pork Chops with Apple Compote (Recipe from ABC’s The Chew)

NOTE: I used 2, bone in thick cut pork chops but made everything else as is. The leftover braised greens (I used mixed braising greens from the Durham Roots Market in place of the cabbage) tasted delicious heated up the next day for lunch, as did the apple compote which I spread over peanut butter on toast. For the vinegar called for in the braised red cabbage, I added sliced hot peppers I had picked up from the market and let them sit overnight in the fridge. This gave the greens a nice kick and the left over pickled peppers were great on a pork sandwich.


6 thick cut pork chops

extra virgin olive oil

salt and black pepper to taste


3 granny smith apples (peeled and large diced

3 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup water

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 lemon (juiced)

salt to taste


1 head cabbage (thinly sliced)

4 garlic cloves (crushed)

1 red onion

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup brown sugar

2 cup water (adding in 1/2 cup increments)

3 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup parsley (chopped)

salt and pepper to taste


For the Pork Chops: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Remove the pork chops from the fridge half an hour before cooking and let come to room temperature. Season the pork chops generously with salt and pepper.
In a saute pan, over high heat, sear the pork chops on both sides. Once golden brown, put the saute pan in the oven and cook for 6-8 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the pork is 150 degrees F.
For the Braised Red Cabbage: Meanwhile, in another saute pan, melt the butter over medium high heat and toss in the onions, garlic and cabbage. Add half a cup of water and cook until almost evaporated. Add water in half cup increments until the cabbage is cooked through. Once the liquid has cooked off, add the vinegar and sugar. Cook until the mixture is almost dry and the cabbage and onions are soft and tender. Finish with fresh parsley.
For the Apple Compote: In another saute pan, melt the butter over medium high heat. Add the apples, cinnamon and season with salt and brown for 2-3 minutes, then add the water and lemon juice and cook the apples until the begin to break down into a sauce (5-6 minutes).
Serve the pork chops with the apple sauce and a side of the braised cabbage.

Thai Larb in Lettuce Cups: This has been a go to recipe since I made it a few years ago. It’s a recipe from local cookbook author and food write Nancie McDermott. I use this recipe often and serve as is or add in red onion and cucumber and serve over chopped romaine lettuce. IT’S DELICIOUS!! ORIGINAL POST IS HERE.

Issahn-Style Minced Pork Salad with Crunchy Rice and Fresh Mint

lahp moo

For the lahp:
1 cup chicken stock or water
½ pound coarsely ground pork
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
1 to 2 tablespoons dried red chili flakes
½ teaspoon sugar
A handful of fresh mint leaves, plus a few sprigs for garnish
2 tablespoons thinly sliced shallots, or purple onion, or onion
2 heaping tablespoons thinly sliced green onions

Small lettuce leaf cups, such as limestone lettuce, Boston, bibb,
or butter lettuce
Cucumber slices
Mint leaves

Quick and Easy Thai

Bring the chicken stock to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Crumble in the meat and coo, turning and pressing to break up larger chunks. Cook the meat evenly, 1 to 2 minutes, until cooked through. Scoop the meat into a medium bowl with about ¼ cup of the broth.

Add the roasted rice powder to the bowl along with the lime juice, fish sauce, chili flakes, and sugar. Use your hands or two large spoons to toss and mix everything together well. Tear the mint leaves in half, add to the bowl along with the shalots and green onions, and mix well. Mound the salad on a small, deep serving platter, juices and all, and garnish with the mint sprigs, lettuce leaves, and cucumber. Or scoop lahp into lettuce cups, arrange lettuce cups on a platter, and serve. Serve at room temperature.

*Roasted Rice Powder:

¼ cup raw long-grain rice

Toast the raw rice grains in a small dry skillet over medium-high heat, stirring and tossing, for 3 to 5 minutes, until the rice turns a wheaty golden brown. Tip onto a plate. Grind to a coarse powder, using a small food processor, spice grinder, blender, or mortar and pestle. Use 1 tablespoon for this recipe and reserve the rest for another use.
Add roasted rice powder to the cooked meat along with the lime juice and seasonings, and toss well.

This recipe comes from Quick & Easy Thai: 70 Everyday Recipes
by Nancie McDermott . Published by Chronicle Books (2004); all rights reserved. You can find all her cookbooks at

NOTES: I altered this recipe based on other herbs and peppers I had in the house. I added a handful of cilantro and mint and used finely diced Thai chili’s. I did not use chicken stock, just fish sauce and a few tablespoons of water and drained the meat after cooking. This was simply because I knew the preparation for this particular appetizer would need little to no juices.

I would also have added a slicer of red pepper or red Thai chili to the top of each spoon for color but I did not have any.

After consulting with Nancie, she reassured me that if I didn’t have the time to make the Roasted Rice Powder, I could skip it. Thank you Nancie =)

Happy Eating!!





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