We have a pretty unique set up here at Coombe Farm Organic - rearing our own animals and seeing they go to slaughter locally, as well as butchering them ourselves before sending them out to customers. Our butchery team have a wealth of knowledge and we wanted to share some of this by providing more information about particular cuts (primals) of the carcasses we work with. This month we’re focusing on Pork Belly.
Pork is still relatively new to us at Coombe Farm when it comes to farming our own. We’re really enjoying rearing the organic pigs and expanding the size of the herd. Pigs are smart and sociable animals with powerful natural instincts that drive them to root and wallow. Living outdoors is obviously vital for the wellbeing of these intelligent creatures, but it’s also vital for the production of top-quality pork. Muscles that have had plenty of active exercise produce flavoursome meat with great texture.
Pork belly comes from the underside of the loin. If you’re looking for lean meat, it's not the cut for you - it's fairly fatty but this is what imparts such a beautifully rich flavour. The best part of the belly is considered to be the thicker end which does have a little more meat to balance out the fat. One of the things we’ve learned as we delve deeper into the intricacies of seam butchery, is that many regions have their own terminology for the same cuts. Pork Belly for example is sometimes known as streaky, draft or flank pork. In London and the Home Counties the flank was referred to when talking about the rear end of the belly.
Historically, pork belly would have been considered a cheap cut but in the pursuit of flavour it has become very popular, yielding three wonderful products.
Organic Pork Belly Joint
The mingled layers of fat and muscle make a fairly frugal joint that rewards patient cooking with tenderness and bags of flavour. We offer Pork Belly Whole, which is perfect for rolling with a tasty stuffing at its centre, or On The Bone which helps to lock succulence into the meat.
Organic Pork Belly Slices
More versatile than a joint, each slice of pork belly is a triple treat: firm, well-flavoured meat combines with melting fat and is topped by a delicate layer of crispy crackling. There's a fair ratio of fat, but rather than gnarly, chewy fat, it is juicy and sweet in flavour.
Nitrate-Free Streaky Bacon
The secret to really good streaky bacon is the balance of lean muscle meat with a ribboning of succulent fat. To make it into bacon, we take the pork belly joints and cure them in an age-old way without the use of chemicals, just good old-fashioned sea salt plus organic bay, juniper and black pepper.