“And part of it was luck in not knowing how pigs were raised in this country, so we just did what made sense.” – Mike Yezzi
Mike Yezzi & Jen Small raise gorgeous heritage pigs on their farm in the Battenkill River Valley, and they produce the most delicious pork around these parts, maybe around anywhere. I think I can describe its virtues with some confidence: My cooking style generally means using a minimum of additional flavorings and a minimum of process, so there’s nowhere for the goodness to hide.
I bought these particular chops, frozen, in the Union Square Greenmarket last week from Mike himself, who is often seen presiding over the stall there, almost as often greeting his many fans.
Everything about this pretty straightforward meal was superb (including the company of course, but also the wine, the music, and the unseasonably-mild evening). All of that’s a very good thing, for sure, but it’s also weirdly interesting, since I had actually prepared every element of it in the same way at least once before, sometimes more than once, and mostly using ingredients from the same sources each time. Nevertheless we both thought that each of the elements of this meal tasted better than ever before.
Even if I were to try, I couldn’t really reproduce any meal, especially while using good fresh local ingredients.
- two 9-ounce loin pork chops from Flying Pigs Farm, thoroughly dried, seasoned with salt and pepper, seared quickly in a heavy enameled cast-iron pan before half of an organic lemon was squeezed over them, the lemon left in the pan, then roasted in a 400º oven for about 14-16 minutes (flipped halfway through and the lemon squeezed over them once again), removed from the oven, the pan juices spooned over the top
- several cloves of Keith’s Farm Rocambole garlic heated in olive oil until golden, then three quarters of a pound of finely-shredded leaves of a savoy cabbage from Hoeffner Farm added and tossed with salt, pepper, four flattened juniper berries, and a tablespoon or so of balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper, sautéed for a minute or two, stirring, until the cabbage was hot and tender
- four halved Maine cherry ‘cocktail’ tomatoes from Whole Foods, seasoned with salt and freshly-ground black pepper, heated in a small tin-lined copper pan, turning once, served sprinkled with fresh oregano leaves, chopped, from Stokes Farm
- the wine was an Austrian (Wagram, Oberstockstall) white, Fritsch Grünerveltliner Steinberg 2014
- the music was several by our latest obsession, Josef Haydn’s younger brother, Johann Michael, and specifically, his string quartets