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Berkshire Pork

Posted on: May 15th, 2023

by Daniel J. Rossaci, CEO of Tony’s Market

In fall of 2021, Tony’s sent our meat team to Red Top Farms in Kearney, Missouri. Before Tony’s commits to a new major farm or source, we visit the farms and processing plants to see it for ourselves and get to know who is on the other end of our business. Owners, Tim, and Jamie Haas are both from multi-generational family farms in Wisconsin. They began Red Top / Premier Proteins from the basement of their home in 2005 and today they are bringing to us some of the most beautiful Berkshire Pork I have ever seen. Their pork, farms and processing facilities all passed our tests with flying colors.

Berkshire Heritage Breed

Red Top Farms in Kearney, Missouri

Berkshire Pork has been called “The World’s Best Pork” by butchers and chefs around the world for centuries. Originally bred century’s ago in Berkshire County, England, with the original genetics carried on to this day. In Japan, it is referred to Kurobuta Pork which translates into “Black Pig” and I confirmed this with my lovely sister-in-law Sachiko who is native Japanese. In other words, the famous Japanese Kurobuta Pork is Berkshire Pork, and Kurobuta is known as the pork equivalent to Wagyu or Kobe Beef. It is amazing what good marketing can do. No matter what you call it, Berkshire is a favorite of Tony’s Meats for decades now.

Berkshire was 1st introduced to America in the mid 1800’s, and the genetics run true to this day. Berkshire is prized for it’s flavor, tenderness, and juiciness. Due to the higher PH levels in the meat, it is slightly redder than otherwise “white” (and dry) commodity pork. One of the many difference and perhaps most impactful is Berkshire has beautiful marbling deep in its muscle fibers, which gives you the juiciness and flavor you cannot get with grocery store commodity pork. You cannot always see as much of the marbling with the naked eye as you can with finely marbled beef, but I assure you, once cooked you will know it’s there.

The flavor and juiciness is a whole new experience in pork eating for most people, but no secret to the finest butchers chefs, and foodies around the globe. No more applesauce needed for dry pork. (Remember Peter Brady with his best Humphrey Bogart impression “Pork Chops and Applesauce…that’s swell”.  For you old-timers, like me, it’s worth a quick chuckle:

The All-American Berkshire Farms

Red Top Farms uses a series of small family farms located in the 4 corners area of Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas and Missouri. This is real American hog country. Most these farms are too small for large corporate agricultural companies to pay attention to, but these small family farms is what America was built on. These farms grow the Berkshire genetics to the specs set by Red Top farms and are all 3rd party audited for:

The Berkshire Processing

Double Bone Berkshire Pork Chop

OK, so none of us really like to talk or think of this stage of the meat supply chain, however it is the way of nature and the industry has modernized it in so many great ways. The processing plant is located centrally from most the farms that raise these hogs, creating a very quick transportation of the animals. A co2 stun provides the animals anesthesia so the necessary processing can be conducted without fear, anxiety, or pain. The facility is USDA inspected and meets or exceeds all requirements of HACCP, CCP, traceability, temperatures, cleanliness and safety. Again, a company I am proud to partner up with.

Preparing Berkshire Pork

I grew up in a generation where cooking pork to shoe leather was the accepted norm. Hence “Pork Chops and Apple Sauce.” People were so fearful of trichinosis that they destroyed their pork chops. Trichinosis and Pork was mostly associated prior to 1950’s in America. Back then farmers actually “slopped the hogs”, which was a wet-concoction of scraps and leftovers, often times laden with bacteria.

Today through proper diets and nutrition, are pigs are healthier than ever and trichinosis is no longer a threat. Today, trichinosis is rare almost nonexistent in America with a median rate of 15 cases per year (2008-2012) nationally according to the CDC, and over 50% of those cases were associated with eating undercooked or raw bear meat or other wild game.

The USDA recommends cooking pork to 145 degrees F. I admit, I usually cook mine to slightly under 145, but while the meat sits and rests it rises to or above the 145 USDA recommended temperature. Once you try Berkshire Pork cooked properly you may perhaps for the 1st time in your life taste how amazing pork can be. Highly nutritious, high in protein, niacin, vitamins B6 and B12, selenium, iron and zinc name just a few health benefits. In today’s high inflationary times, healthy and delicious pork is a great value. Come and discover how great pork can be. It may become your new favorite. Here is one of my favorite recipes.

Tuscan Style Double-Cut Berkshire ChopsTuscan Style Double-Cut Berkshire Chops

Tuscan Herb Marinade

-Recipe good for 2 Double Chops…double recipe if cooking more than 2

*If table salt used, use less…

Cast Iron Method:

**USDA recommends 145 degrees internal temperature for pork.

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