Hey, Kansas friends. This one’s for you! My cousin’s a drum major for the band, and our hometown friends’ son is on the football team. I can’t think of much of anything that would be more fun than donning purple on October 6 for a “little” pigskin rivalry…
The Kansas Pork Association is sponsoring The Ultimate Kansas Tailgate Party contest on their Facebook page. If you win tickets to the game, you also get the rest of the Grand Prize - The Ultimate Grill Package includes over $800 worth of pure tailgating bliss!
Four tickets to the KSU vs KU game in Manhattan, a Weber Q 300 grill, Weber grill cover, 4 fold-able lawn chairs, Weber’s “Time to Grill” cookbook, a Coleman cooler, grilling utensil set, grill handle light, barbecue mitt, basting mop and replacement head, digital probe thermometer, digital pocket thermometer, marinade injector, rib rack, silicone basting brush, grill cleaning brush, 6 different types of rub, 2 types of BBQ sauces, an “I Dig the Pig” apron and $50 worth of pork coupons.
Fun, right?! When I was first contacted to work with the Kansas Pork Association, I had to laugh because we had just stuffed our freezer with a whole hog. (Our beef comes in October.) Seems like a good fit!
Not gonna lie to you… even with a variety of pork cuts at my fingertips all year, bacon is still my favorite, but we were asked to fix a family favorite recipe from one of the Association farmers, and these Carolina Country Style Ribs from the Condray family? Pretty tasty!
I chose to interview the Condrays and make their favorite recipe because of this quote on their page: “I am a firm believer that if you take care of your animals and the land they live on, they will produce a healthy and nutritious product in return.”
That is exactly what I want from my farmers! Here’s what the Condrays have to say about raising and buying pork.
Q: As you say on your web page, ” …if you take care of your animals and the land they live on, they will produce a healthy and nutritious product in return.” How does that translate on your farm? What kinds of things do you do to keep your animals well-cared for?
Our farm revolves around the needs of our animals and the land. Whether that is feeding schedules, daily care routines, planting crops for feed or the harvesting for feed, everything we do is linked back to our animals. We know that if we do
what is best for our animals by giving them everyday care and attention, and if we do what is right for our land, we will have the opportunity to continue this rural life that we love.
That translates in many ways but one of the biggest ways we care for our farm is by working with experts in animal and land care. We work with Kansas State University’s Swine Team quite a bit. This team and their graduate students spend a lot of time in our barns and with our animals. The relationship allows our farm to stay abreast of new research from KSU- our land grant university. Another key part of our farm is our relationship with our veterinarians. They visit our farm regularly and do routine checks on our animals. We keep such a good relationship with both of these groups we consider some of them family.
The kinds of things we do to keep our animals well cared for include providing our animals diets that are most healthy for them (many times using corn and soybean from local farmers), walking through our barns to check on animals frequently and providing daily care records for each animal, and making sure our animals are comfortable by providing climate controlled barns for shelter. We also work with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment to keep records on our land. They work with us to test our soils and track soil, water and land health.
Q: I personally buy a whole hog in bulk from a local farmer, but I know it’s not practical for most families to purchase their meat that way. When buying at the store, what should we be looking for to ensure we’re consuming a quality pork product? Is there anything we should avoid?
Pork should be a reddish pink color and have a little bit of marbling (streaks of fat in the pork chop). It should also be firm to the touch.
One of the things you will notice in some of our cuts is how lean they are. Today we are raising leaner hogs to meet the demands of people looking for lower fat options. We can raise them leaner today because we feed them a very lean and consistent source of protein (corn and soybean) and because we have breed the leanest of pigs over the last 15 years to make our current ideal hog for market. The leanest of cuts are the pork tenderloin (as lean as a skinless chicken breast), followed by loin chops and roasts.
The only thing I would avoid doing is overcooking pork. Because pork today is very lean it can be easy to overcook. Make sure to cook fresh pork (chops, roast, etc) to 145 degrees and allow the meat to rest 3 minutes before serving.
Q: I don’t think I’m alone when I admit that bacon is my favorite pork product. I think we’ve eaten BLTs weekly this summer! What cut is a favorite for your family? How do you cook it?
Each member of our family likes a different cut of pork but we all collectively agree on the Pork Loin. I use this as a family favorite at holiday time, especially Christmas and even Easter. We use the McCormick Sweet and Spicy Rub to marinate and then I usually bake in the oven since it is on for other dishes. But for me personally I love BBQ Ribs. Even before I married a Pork Farmer on my birthday my favorite meal was BBQ Ribs and Sweet Corn. Having an August Birthday helps with the corn part!
Q: Anything else you’d like Kansas shoppers to know about buying or raising pork?
Raising Hogs has evolved a lot, from the dirt lots to climate controlled barns, is actually a very positive move for the animals. A couple of years ago at Christmas we had zero degree weather and snow, then more snow, then more snow. The hogs were very happy and comfortable inside while it was a full day for my husband to get workers to our farm continually blading the road open after it would drift shut. We also had several employees stay with us so they could get to work.
Most Hog Producers take very seriously the part they play in feeding the consumer with a top quality product produced by very caring individuals who love the animals and the land.
Meet other Kansas pork farmers and see their favorite recipes at:
Disclosure: This is a sponsored post on behalf of the Kansas Pork Association. Opinions are all mine, including my love for bacon.