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Sunny Pastures

David Sensenig | Lancaster, KY

Sunny Pastures Farm

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.

Crowd Cow introduces pork!

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.

The awesomeness of heritage breeds

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.

Tips for Cooking Pork

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.

Cooking Techniques

Pan

  • Quickly sear chops and tender cuts in a heavy pan on a hot stove for perfectly crusted, tender meat.
  • Use a high smoke point oil to avoid breaking down the fat and ruining the flavor. Sunflower, safflower, avocado and refined olive oils are good options. A marinade is an optional step for extra tenderness.
  • Temp: High heat Cook Time: 3-4 minutes per side for most cuts

Grill

  • Whether using a charcoal or gas grill, nothing beats the primal feel of cooking over open flame.
  • Charcoal grills impart a smoky flavor, but gas grills are easier to control. A brine or marinade will ensure chops don’t dry out during grilling. Pork roasts require lower temps and longer cook times.
  • Temp: For chops, high (500 to 550 F). For roasts, low (200 to 250 F). Cook Time: 5 minutes per side for chops, up to a few hours for roasts.

Stew/Braise

  • Transform lean cuts into fork-tender feasts by cooking your pork low and slow in flavorful liquids.
  • Stew your pork in a braising liquid like broth or wine, and add in some aromatics like onions, garlic and herbs.
  • Temp: Heat oven to 325 F Cook Time: 2.5 - 3 hours

Roast

  • Create easy, delicious comfort food in the oven with just a few simple steps.
  • Insert garlic slices into your pork to infuse flavor. Some people tie their roasts with butcher’s twine to retain shape and ensure even cooking.
  • Temp: 350 F. Cook Time: 25-30 minutes / lb

Tips & Tricks

  • Thaw on a tray in the refrigerator overnight.
  • Pasture-raised and heritage-breed pork contains less water than typical store-bought pork, and will cook faster and at lower temperatures.
  • After cooking, all meat should rest for 5 - 10 minutes to let the juices redistribute. Tent loosely in tinfoil to retain heat.

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