What it is: Berkshire pork is meat from a pedigreed breed of black-coated swine prized for juiciness, flavor and tenderness. The breed is also known as kurobuta, Japanese for “black pork.” It is a deeper-hued, more heavily marbled pork than “the other white meat” widely promoted in recent years.
“To me Berkshire pork is the Kobe beef of the pork world,” says Chef Mark Kasper of the Kit Kat Lounge & Supper Club in Northalsted. “I prefer Berkshire pork because of the tenderness and the flavor. I support sustainable cooking, and when I get Berkshire pork, I know it comes from organic farms here in the Midwest.”
Where it comes from: One of the oldest identifiable breeds, Berkshires are descended from the pig herd of the British House of Windsor of some 300 years ago. The American Berkshire Association, established in 1875, accepts for registration only only hogs directly imported from established English herds, or hogs tracing directly back to such imported animals.
What to do with it: Berkshire pork is especially suited for dishes where you want its rich flavor to shine through. Because it has a high fat content, it also holds up well both to long cooking and high-temperature cooking, such as in Kasper’s recipe for blackened pork chops.
Kit Kat’s blackened Berkshire pork chops
Chef Mark Kasper
Kasper serves these garnished with fried dill pickle chips and collard greens over cornbread sauce.
4 teaspoons salt
4 teaspoons paprika
3 teaspoons garlic powder
3 teaspoons freshly ground pepper
2-1/2 teaspoons onion powder
1-1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1-1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, crumbled
1-1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
4 12-ounce bone-in pork chops, frenched
Combine the spices and dust generously on the pork chops.
On a preheated, seasoned grill or a cast-iron frying pan, cook the pork chops roughly 8 minutes per side, depending on the thickness, to medium rare. Allow the meat to rest for at least 5 minute before serving. If desired, slice into a fan shape and serve over cornbread sauce. 4 servings.
1/4 cup chicken stock
2 tablespoons butter
1-1/2 cups whole milk
8 ounces prepared cornbread, broken into small pieces
Salt and pepper to taste
In a saucepan, heat the stock, butter and milk until simmering, then add the cornbread and whisk together, if too thick add 1/4 more chicken stock. Once smooth, place in a blender and blend until very smooth. Season with salt and pepper. 2 cups.