We have some amazing pig farmers in Ireland where you can see the pigs roaming happily around. Photo: Dan Renco

There's a lot more to pork than ribs and belly

It is not very often that we see pork on a restaurant menu these days.

In my eyes that’s a pity as well-bred pork is tender and flavoursome in the hands of the right chef.

But yet, the most I see might be ribs or belly. There is a lot more to pork than that.

The other day, Mr T and I went to the Milk Market in Limerick (if you haven’t been yet, make sure to take the trip as it’s a lovely market) and we got some Lomo from Castlegregory.

Lomo is cured tenderloin and is very popular in Spain.

This Irish version is lovely, tender and although made with pepper (which shines through), the flavour is rather delicate. It’s a great addition to any charcuterie board and will be on my shopping list from now on.

The texture was firm, yet tender and although I don’t like pepper, it wasn’t in your face spicy.

People who know me well, know that I am not too keen on meat, but I do love pork (and veal but that is another story) and I go crazy over some great crackling. If you like pig on a spit, check out The Good Life Hog Roast near Blarney. It’s the best spit roast you will ever taste from their own free range pig farm. The pork is tender and the crackling is simply cracking (sorry for the pun).

When I am in Germany, I love to go to a Chinese restaurant to eat twice baked pork. It’s super delicious with a great sauce and of course the famous fried rice. Not sure if there is such a dish in China (at least I have never seen the dish on any Chinese menu here in Ireland) and I might be laughed at if I mention it, but it is really delicious. I really need to find out how to make the dish as I utterly love it.

Pork had bad press in the past which definitely has caused people to eat less of it. A few years ago, SlowFood started a campaign to promote Irish pork. We have some amazing pig farmers in Ireland. I am not talking about the large-scale batteries but farmers like Ken Mitchell of Good Life Hog Roast where you can see the pigs roaming happily around and the piglets even like to be cuddled.

That’s when pork tastes at its best – when they led a happy life (sorry dear vegans).

Another nice pork dish is loin roast. I like to rub a fragrant mustard over it for roasting as loin can be a bit boring in flavour and onion gravy is just a perfect partner for it together with creamy mash.

Pork chops are easy and inexpensive. It’s delicious with a mushroom sauce and a great midweek dinner option. So, here's hoping that chefs are getting a bit braver and putting a spotlight on Irish pork.