I’m going to try not to gush here.
Ah sod it, I’m gushing: I had the most fabulous day at Jimmy’s Farm EVER. Look, here’s me and Jimmy. Squeeeee!
(Seriously, could I not have toned it down a bit? Grinning like a loon is so not cool).
Jimmy Doherty is just a thoroughly nice, down to earth, genuine chap, who gave up his day to nanny a group of food bloggers around his farm and talk to them about pork. Probably not his favourite way to spend a day, but was he grumpy? Nooooo. He was charming and informative, clever and engaging. I might have a little crush. When I told him, for example, that my friend Disney Dave would love to come to the farm, he filmed an amazing video for me to give to Dave, telling him to come and visit soon. What a gentleman. Dave was delighted.
The farm is gorgeous too – we pottered around chatting in the sunshine, looking at his fabulous rare breed Essex, Saddleback and Gloucestershire Old Spot pigs:
…baking in the butterfly house:
and stuffing our faces in the restaurant.
We also had a really interesting demonstration with Joe Collier from famous Berkhamsted butchers, Eastwoods. Joe butchered half a pig while Jimmy took us through some of the cuts.
Fascinating stuff. Did you know, for example, that meat from rare breed free range pigs like Jimmy’s is much deeper in colour than intensively reared pork? Look at it there on the table… it’s more like beef. That’s because it’s lived longer and has actually exercised. It’s also more flavoursome. We also learned that pork bones make great stock, and that cheaper cuts like the chump end (ask for it in the butcher’s, people) make great slow-roasting joints.
The most popular cut, the pork loin found in most supermarkets, is fine (see my recipe very soon), but it can be dry as it’s very lean, and the pig has so many amazing cuts that we’re just not using…
Take the belly, for instance: gorgeous roasted, with tons of lovely crackling. Or if you take the skin off (you can cook this as crackling separately), you can rub it with all sorts of delicious things (Joe used a garlicky, herby salt) then roll up and roast. It’s delicious sliced into strips for the barby too. The ribs can be marinated in honey, brown sugar, soy and garlic overnight and then roasted long and slow until they’re sticky and meltingly tender.
It’s not all about slow cooking though – Joe made me some lovely kebabs from chump end meat and after a quick browning in the frying pan we were amazed at how delicious, and tender, the meat was. Perfect quick bbq food.
Look out for blade bone (a really good slow roast) – it’s not that popular but it’s much cheaper than other cuts and there’s loads of meat on it. Ditto with the spare ribs (much sweeter than loin when cut into chops) and the delightful topside, cut into steaks and marinated or cooked with a flavoured butter).
Now I appreciate that not everyone’s going to dive in and start cooking trotters and snouts (least of all me), but we really should be celebrating our magnificent British piggy. And who better than the lovely Jimmy to spearhead the campaign – the real reason for all this hobnobbing with the stars – the very worthy Put Pork on Your Fork campaign, encouraging us to buy fabulous British pork and support farmers like Jimmy. All this is leading up to the One Pig Weekend, 30th and 31st July, where there are special events at places like Jimmy’s Farm and everyone’s being encouraged to throw their own bash, with British pork on the menu.
And while I’m lucky enough to live within shopping distance of the lovely Joe at Eastwood’s, I know a lot of you aren’t so lucky. So take Jimmy’s advice: hassle your supermarket manager. Tell him that you’d like to see more great cuts of British pork on the shelves, and hopefully British pig farmers everywhere will benefit.
You can find the Put Pork on your Fork facebook page here.
Oh, talking of Facebook, did I tell you I’m friends with Jimmy?
Okay I’ll shut up now.