Farmers Market Corner for 6/11/16

Union Station Farmers Market

We were happy to be at the bustling opening day of the Union Station Farmers Market. Said Eric, “It was a great crowd and our new booth really looked good. The Denver customers were enthusiastic. We were happy to spend time educating people about grower farmers markets, which is different than how we relate to the seasoned customers of the Boulder market.

There were a lot of small purchases and tasting, which we see as Denver customers dipping their toes into the farmers market experience. We look forward to them diving in.”

One person who visited our booth and was ready to dive in was Mark Antonation, the Westword food writer.  Mark was checking out the market and gathering ingredients for a dish with market ingredients. He came away from our booth with some of our heritage breed pork belly.  For more on his market experience and instructions on how to cook his market dish:

The Denver market is located at the Union Station transportation hub in downtown Denver, 1701 Wynkoop street.  It will take place every Saturday from 9am to 2pm through Oct. 22nd. If you go to the market, say hello to Eric and Jill.

Black Cat Farm market produce

 The Black Cat Farm booths at the two markets will include the following produce on June 11, 2016:
  • Arugula
  • Cilantro
  • Collard greens, Asian
  • Edible flowers (arugula, dianthus, mustard greens, peppercress)
  • Kale
  • Lettuce, heads
  • Lettuce mix
  • Mizuna
  • Parsley (Denver only)
  • Scallions

Dried black garbanzo beans (for CSA members only in Boulder) and pork cuts will also be available at both markets.

The Black Cat Farm booth at Union Station market will also offer freshly milled Black Cat Farm polenta.

Prepared food

After a long hiatus, we are offering the following Black Cat Bistro frozen dishes made with Black Cat Farm heritage pork:

  • Bacon marmalalde: Our plum wood-smoked Mulefoot bacon cooked with shallots, sherry vinegar, brown sugar and spices.
  • Black pudding: A traditional sausage that uses blood, onion, garlic, egg and spices. Eric altered it from the norm by adding cherries poached in red wine to make it more approachable.
  • Porchetta di testa: A traditional Italian salumi made from the meat from a pig’s head. It is brined, then spiced and rolled followed by a long poaching. Shaved paper thin, it is a delight.

Black Cat Farm heritage pork

Sleeping juvenile pigs
Snoozing juvenile pigs sleeping it off after raucous days running with the wrong crowd.

The Black Cat Farm started its pork program with purebred Mulefoot pigs, a rare heritage breed renowned for its exceptional flavor.  Other factors that influenced Eric and Jill to raise Mulefoot pigs included their ability to live outdoors in a wide range of temperatures, partly due to their all-black coats, and their mild temperament.

While we love Mulefoot pigs and cannot get enough of Mulefoot pork, there were two drawbacks of the breed that we discovered. It takes longer for them to grow to maturity than many breeds. Also, the litters of piglets are small.  In the last two years, Eric and Jill have been conducting a cross-breeding program to preserve the best Mulefoot traits while improving the Mulefoot drawbacks. The end result now is pigs that are 75% Mulefoot and 25% Hereford.  (The Hereford pig is a heritage breed that grows faster and breeds more prolifically than the Mulefoot. Its coat resembles that of Hereford cattle with red-brown and some white coloration.  The cross-breed pigs are mostly black but some pigs on the farm are not uniformly black.)

The cross-breeding program has been successful, so much so that a lot of piglets were born from fall through early spring.  Our success has meant a bountiful supply of pork available at the markets, which hasn’t always been the case in the past. Buy pork while the sun shines, or least while we have lots of pork.

Pork Chops with Fermented Black Beans and Bay Scallops recipe

If you are wondering what to do with our pork, following is one of Eric’s favorite recipes from his cookbook, “Farm Fork Food: A Year of Spectacular Recipes inspired by Black Cat Farm.” This version of the recipe substitutes pork chops for pork loin.

Note: We will have gai lan (Chinese brocolli), starting next week or the week after that but will not have it at tomorrow’s market. Rapini will be available later in the summer. If you cannot find gai lan or rapini, you can use brocollini.

Serves 4-6

1/4 cup fermented black beans
pinch of ground clove
pinch of ground cardamon
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon chopped young garlic, plus 1/2 cup thinly sliced
6 small pork chops
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups gai lan (Chinese brocoli) or rapini
1 tablespoon julienned fresh ginger
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup bay scallops, rinsed
rice wine vinegar

  1. In a small pot over high heat, combine 1/2 cup water with the black beans, spices, and chopped garlic. Boil until reduced by three-quarters. Transfer to a blender and puree until smooth. Set aside.
  2. Season the pork with salt and pepper. In a large saute pan over high heat, saute 3  pork chops until browned and crisp, about 7 minutes, and place them on a platter. Drain the rendered fat and save for another use. Repeat with the other 3  pork chops.
  3. Over high heat, place 3 pork chops back in the large saute pan with the browned sides facing up. Saute the chops until the meat is browned but rosy inside, about 5 minutes, and remove to a platter. Repeat with the second batch of pork chops.  Let the meat rest for 10 minutes.
  4. Return the saute pan with the pan drippings to the heat. Over medium heat, add the gai lan, sliced garlic, and ginger. Cook until the gai lan begins to wilt, then add the butter and cook for 1 minute more. Remove the pan from the heat and add the scallops. Season with salt and vinegar; the scallops will warm through as the pan cools.
  5. Divide the pork chops among the dinner plates. Top with the black bean puree and garnish with the gai lan mixture. Serve immediately.

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