Reviewer’s Note: Samples of the products discussed here were provided to me for reviewing purposes at no cost.
Berkshire hog producer Circle B Ranch recently sent me a package of choice pork selections for review. I received a tenderloin, pork chops, and a jar of Marina’s Cranberry Chutney, and set to work experimenting with them the day they arrived.
The chops were over an inch thick, with a layer of reassuring fat along one edge. The thickness of the fat layer was not excessive, but was just enough to carry the promise of adding moisture to the cooked pork and richness to its taste. It would prove to deliver neatly on that score.
Testing the meat’s response to varying degrees of seasoning intensity seemed like a good means of getting to know this product. So I gave one portion of pork chops a light dusting of salt and black pepper, and brushed the other on both sides with a herb-infused basting oil. The loin received a Cajun spice blend rub, my rationale being that the thickest cut of meat would best stand up to that most potent of my three seasoning selections. Then it was into the refrigerator to marinate overnight.
The pork chops I pan-fried, opting to bake the tenderloin. In each case, the finished meat was tender and juicy, and retained its character. The light application of salt and pepper brought forth the inherent savoriness of the meat, whereas the essences of basil, cilantro, and thyme really penetrated the herbed chop. The result was a more complex flavor palette that opened up many avenues concerning pairings with other foods and sides also complemented by the presence of the herbs.
The tenderloin, dressed in Cajun spice blend (easily the most likely to overpower a dish if misused,) likewise did not disappoint. It was among the juiciest I’ve tasted, remaining tender, slicing cleanly with minimal effort.
Then there was the cranberry chutney, winning the prize for the most interesting item in the sample. Orange peel, walnuts, cranberry, and lots of other complementary flavors are at work in this product. Having enjoyed bites of it at intervals over the past few weeks, I continue to find its flavor as clean and fresh and pleasingly tart and sweet as it was the day I first opened it.
Circle B Ranch provided a great sampling experience, and a thing for which even more grateful: a new shopping resource for the next time I’m in the mood for chops, tenderloin, or other meats from a source I trust.