PORK BELLY: At Home

pork-belly-on-cutting-board-at-homeIf you have been out to eat in the last few years, you probably have heard or seen the words “pork belly” on a menu or two. Pork belly was once a term reserved for butchers and stockbrokers, but now this cut of meat is becoming more widely known. Most people know pork belly as bacon– cured, smoked and sliced into the familiar breakfast delicacy– but the original cut has seen a rise in popularity. Many home cooks and amateur foodies are tackling this flavourful new trend in their own kitchens, you can too with D’Arcy’s guide below.

CUISINE

Pork belly has been used in many cuisines for as long as those cultures have raised pork. Once thought to be cheap and undesirable, this cut is now praised for its deep flavour, crispy skin and unique marbling. The cut can be easily served on its own when done well– best accented with striking sauces, subtle seasonings or sensible salads. Prepared pork belly goes well in steamed buns, tacos or sandwiches, as well as warm, hearty dishes such as ramen noodle soup.

PREP

When it comes to a good pork belly dish, it all comes down to the preparation. It may seem overly simple, but you won’t need more than salt, sugar, ground black pepper and time. Once seasoned, your cut should sit in the fridge overnight to allow it to dry out— this helps it cook more evenly and deepens the flavour. Once cooked, some chefs like to chill it again in order to cut thick slices that can be browned in oil or warmed in stock and served as needed.

TECHNIQUES

As with most foods, there are almost unlimited ways to cook pork belly. Consult our list below for a summary of just some of these methods, many dating back centuries:

  • Sous-vide;
  • Pressure cooker;
  • Braised or slow-cooked;
  • Smoked or cured;
  • BBQ or grill;
  • Oven roasting;
  • Char siu-style (skewered over an open flame).

If you are planning on cooking pork belly or are simply just curious, contact or visit the experts today here at D’Arcy’s Meat Market. Our staff is always happy to offer advice, help select and even prepare the cut for your chosen recipe.

Learn More about Mangalitsa Pork

mangalitsa-pork-darcys-meat-marketMangalitsa or Mangalica (pronounced man-gal-eets-a) is a breed of pork that is gaining both recognition and appreciation. Once a highly prize Hungarian hog, these pigs were almost wiped out before local initiatives restored their population. Since then, the meat and the lard have become popular again thanks to discerning buyers, butchers, chefs, food writers, gourmands and fans of modern cooking trends– further boosting the distribution of Mangalitsa pigs and their products in Europe and abroad. If you are curious, keep reading for more from the Mangalitsa experts here at D’Arcy’s Meat Market!

CHEW THE FAT

In cuisine, it’s simple: fat means flavour. This rule of thumb was unpopular in recent years as consumers began buying leaner and leaner meat products. When fat is reduced or removed, there is often not enough left to render a juicy, flavourful piece of meat. As modern diets embrace smaller portions of fattier, well-marbled meats such as Angus, Wagyu or Kobe beef– Mangalitsa pork has also increased in popularity. Mangalitsa pigs grow slower than more popular breeds, developing meat with a generous, even distribution of fat. When cooked, this fat melts into the surrounding meat for unparalleled flavour and succulence.

DON’T CALL IT A COMEBACK

Originally bred for lard, the unique-looking, wooly Mangalitsa pigs fell out of favour when consumers and industries shifted away from saturated animal fats. Since the breed grows slower and requires more land to forage naturally, farmers also opted to raise other breeds of pig for meat. These factors resulted in neglect and habitat loss– Mangalitsa numbers dwindled to less than 200 in the world by the 1990s. Alarmed scientists in Hungary acted quickly and succeeded in not only returning the population to the tens of thousands in Europe, but across many other countries as well.

TRADITIONAL TO LOCAL

Since their brush with extinction, Mangalitsa pork once again enjoys a place of prominence and thriving numbers around the world. These days, traditional Hungarian sausage made with Mangalitsa meat and paprika is served far and wide. Likewise, trendy, local and slow food restaurants have jumped at the opportunity to serve the delicacy– taking everyday pork entrees to a whole new realm of mouth-watering flavour and tenderness. Be ahead of the curve and elevate your own dishes with Mangalitsa pork or lard, from family favourites to your next dinner party showstopper.

As you can see, Mangalitsa pork is a special breed that stands out from the crowd thanks to its wooly exterior and its unparalleled taste. Contact or visit D’Arcy’s today, we are standing by to answer any questions you may have about our Mangalitsa products and our suppliers.

HEALTHY HOG: 5 Reasons to Include Pork in a Balanced Diet

Fresh slices of pork While there has been a lot of bad press about processed pork recently, not every cut of pig is as unhealthy as bacon or sausage. In fact many choice cuts are just as healthy as chicken, if not more! Gain all the benefits of healthy meat, without sacrificing any flavour– add pork to your balanced, nutritious diet today. Read on for D’Arcy’s guide to pork’s health benefits.

PROTEIN

Known as the building block of the body, protein helps rebuilds muscles and strengthens your cardiovascular system. Just one 100g serving of pork can contain up to half of your daily recommended protein intake.

B-VITAMINS

Thiamin, niacin, B12 and B6 are just a few of the B-vitamins widely used in your body. Pork is higher in these vitamins than most other meat, making it a delicious and easy way to boost energy and metabolism.

FAT

Unlike beef, lamb or goat, pork contains no natural trans- or hydrogenated fats. When compared to chicken and other lean meats, pork is very comparable in fat and saturated fat content– often with a healthier ratio. Look for lean cuts with next to no processing or handling such as smoked or salted pork.

SALT

Fresh pork is naturally low in sodium, but again avoid any processed pork such as bacon or sausage. Low-sodium diets help avoid heart disease and hypertension.

ZINC

Vital to new cell growth and your immune system, zinc is an overlooked mineral that many people are deficient in. Pork is a good source of zinc, which is especially important to pregnant women and growing children.

 

BONUS: 5 LEAN CUTS OF PORK

1. Tenderloin;
2. Chops and steaks;
3. Roasts;
4. Leg or lean ham;
5. Cutlets.

While many of us associate the sizzle of bacon with pork, we often overlook the healthier options in the butcher’s display. Ask your D’Arcy’s expert for tips and tricks for getting the most out of your lean cut of pork. Visit or contact us today!

EASY AS PIE: Tourtière Explained

 

Traditional meat pie on a dish

While it may seem foreign to some, tourtière is as Canadian as maple syrup, hockey or poutine. A classic Quebecois dish, tourtière is a staple at holiday meals across much of northeastern North America. Sweet or fruity pies may be more common or universal, but tourtière continues a long-standing Western tradition of savoury meat pies. Expand you or your family’s horizons by making or heating up a tourtière at your next family feast.

Getting hungry? Read on for D’Arcy’s go-to guide to tourtière!

The BASICS

Fundamentally, tourtière is a pie that contains meat and spices baked into a golden, flaky crust. Tourtière can be made fresh, but is often made in advance and frozen until ready to bake. The meat is generally diced or ground; including any or all of pork, veal, beef and wild game. Other less common variations include fish (salmon) or leaner meats (poultry), while bold seasoning is the rule for all varieties.

THE HISTORY

Named after its original baking dish, tourtière first appears in records dating back to early 17th-century Quebec. Tourtière was originally a favourable way to make use of less desirable cuts of meat, but the modern dish has evolved into something that can be found from gourmet tables to deli freezers. New Year’s Eve and Christmas are the traditional occasions to serve tourtière, but it makes a hearty meal all year round.

THE TYPES

Sagenay-Lac-Saint-Jean & Eastern Quebec tourtières feature cubed meat (of all kinds) along with potatoes, set in a deep-dish crust. They are the most popular varieties in Quebec.

Montreal tourtière contains only fine-ground pork and is seasoned with cinnamon and cloves. It is the most common and popular variety outside of Quebec.

Manitoba tourtière owes its heritage to the Francophone communities of rural Manitoba. Unlike other varieties, the meat is browned beforehand and mustard is the most common condiment.

Acadian tourtière is also known as ‘pâté à la viande,’ containing primarily pork combined with other available meats. It is highly regional and specific to the Maritime provinces.

Do you want to tout your own tourtière? Contact or visit D’Arcy’s Meat Market today, our experts can handle any order. Whether you’re crimping your own crust this Christmas or you need a pile of pies to power a platoon… D’Arcy’s can help!

GO HOG WILD: D’Arcy’s Ultimate Guide to Your Backyard Pig Roast

Roasted pig with herbs and vegetables

With more and more shows like BBQ Pitmasters and Epic Meal Time becoming popular, the idea of hosting your own large-scale barbecue and backyard party has become a reality. If you want to stand snout and shoulders above the rest, any true meat maestro should attempt roasting a pig on their own.

Sound intimidating? Don’t squeal! Just follow a few simple steps and your dream pig roast can become a reality– your guests will be in hog heaven!

 

ALWAYS BE PREPARED

Whoa now, hold on! Before you go and have D’Arcy’s order you up a full pig, make sure you have all the necessary tools and equipment. Charcoal and matches are must, of course– but pig roasts often require spit rentals, drip trays, oven mitts, sharp knives for carving, large enough serving platters and implements, power sources and other assorted tools. Not to mention constant attention: make sure you have enough people around willing to help out if needed.

*Tip: Often a spit isn’t enough on its own to hold the pig in place. Use food-safe wire to wrap it tightly to the spit; this will help avoid shifting and falling into the coals.

 

START EARLY, CHECK OFTEN

Remember: the bigger and heavier the pig, the longer it will take to cook. Also, it is generally best to err on the side of being done too early. While many guests like to see the pig spin on the spit, far fewer guests like to wait around until midnight to eat. Start your charcoal early and have the pig ready to go on well ahead of schedule. Factor the pig’s weight and any stuffing added to ensure you leave enough time for it all to be fully cooked. Check the heat of your coals often and add more fuel when necessary.

 

HAVE FUN

Roasting an entire pig is a major undertaking, so do not try to accomplish too much at once. Consider having invitees bring sides and appetizers as a potluck, this well help take some of the responsibility off of you. In any case, it’s often best to make a pig roast into a group event– hungry mouths means helping hands! Leave enough space and time for you to prepare and serve the pig, it will help reduce complications in the heat of the moment.

Consult with D’Arcy’s by emailing, calling or visiting us at least month before your planned party. We can offer guidance and source and order a local, ethically-raised pig, tailored to your party size and budget.  D’Arcy’s offers spit rental and we can also save you the hassle by roasting your pig for you! Yes, order in advance and we can deliver a perfectly roasted whole pig to your doorstep.

Ready to take the plunge? Contact D’Arcy’s today!