At Sunny Pastures Farm in Harrodsburg, Kentucky, David Sensenig and his family are raising heritage-cross pork including breeds like Hampshire, which were originally developed to be adapted specifically to Kentucky. The pigs live entirely on pasture because David’s philosophy is that livestock should be fully outdoors, as nature intended.
The farm itself has a long history. The original cabin on the property, which forms part of the house David and his family live in, was built in 1798. Carved into the front door are the initials A. B. for Ambrose Burton, who constructed the small cabin after returning from his post as a soldier in the Revolutionary War. He presumably also farmed the central Kentucky land.
230 years later, the small farm is at the cutting edge of environmental practices, foregrounding rotational grazing, which allows the pastures to recover after the hogs have eaten the grass or annual species planted to extend the growing season.
As for the feed the pigs receive, David goes above and beyond the make sure it’s as fresh as possible.
“We use corn and soybeans, and we get it custom-roasted right on the farm.”
“It tastes just like peanuts,” he adds, laughed. He would know -- he’s sampled it himself.
The result of the fully outdoor lives the pigs lead, plus the delicious, fresh-roasted feed, is heritage-cross pork that’s the perfect balance of fat and lean, and extremely flavorful.
For three years, we've been traveling across America and beyond, seeking out the most delicious and unique beef from independently-owned farms, from Pennsylvania Angus finished on ancient grains to the world’s rarest steak, Olive-fed Wagyu, which hails from a remote Japanese island.
Now we're expanding our appetite to pork, searching out the country’s highest-quality, independently raised pork not available in stores. Among the types of pork we're seeking out as we become a marketplace for craft producers are heritage and unusual breeds, farms with innovative feed programs like locally sourced hazelnuts, and meat with regionally distinct flavors. We'll continue adding pork offerings as it finds exceptional new farms.
Before factory farms became the norm for U.S. pork production -- and with them, dry, bland-tasting meat -- heritage breeds abounded on small farms. Today, a movement of small-scale pork producers around the country is working to save heritage breeds, while also giving eaters tastier, richer meat. Heritage breeds range in flavor from Berkshire on the one end, known for being tender and rich in fat, to Red Wattle on the other, a rare, flavorful variety bred by New Calendonians and later New Orleaners to star in Cajun cuisine.
Pasture-raised pork can cook a little faster than industrially raised pork. For chops, use the reverse-sear method: cook the pork in the oven, to your desired doneness, then transfer to a skillet to quickly sear. Braises also work well for pasture-raised pork. Bacon is best treated to a nice, quick pan-sizzle. Read on for more on the cooking techniques you can use.
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