Welcome to the first ‘officially summer’ edition of The Omnivore. We’re excited about all the delicious produce this season brings with it – in particular the plethora of things that pair wonderfully with our fresh and cured pork, and eggs. From long, leisurely breakfasts to dinners on the deck… there’s so much to love about summer eating.
December often means more socialising than usual – whether you’re hosting or bringing a plate, read on for some nostalgic nibble ideas. We introduce you to very special mince new on shop shelves, and ponder the impact of a recent court ruling on the use of farrowing crates in pig farming.
Forks not required
We love summer entertaining, especially when it means grazing for dinner. Plates of nibbles being passed around, and overflowing platters to help oneself to – who needs cutlery when finger food is this satisfying? We hold a soft spot for bold and sometimes kooky hors d'oeuvres born of the 60s and 70s – here are some ways to give them an updated nod:
- Fancy up devilled eggs with an artisan mustard in the yolk-mix. We love Al Brown’s Old Yella habanero offering, or you could put things in the pink using Dog Town Mustard’s beetroot and caraway take. Instead of plain paprika, dust them with smoked paprika, Aleppo pepper, chaat masala, or tart sumac. Or give them a Japanese-inspired makeover mixing the yolks with wasabi mayo, and dusting with dried seaweed flakes.
- In place of prunes, let soft medjool dates lend their caramel tones to devils on horseback – stuff them with a smudge of soft goat’s cheese and a toasted blanched almond before wrapping in streaky bacon and cooking under the grill till crisp and oozing.
- Crisp up sage leaves by frying in butter, then wrap a couple of leaves up, alongside a breakfast sausage, in bacon. Brush over honey melted with a pinch of cayenne, and bake till cooked through.
- Take your favourite flatbread – Rebel Bakehouse’s spinach wraps make for a vibrant picture. Spread over a generous layer of something soft and delicately cheesy – we love Clevedon Buffalo Co’s Herb & Garlic Tartinade. Layer on manuka honey shaved ham, roll up nice and tight and slice into bite size, pretty-as-a-picture wheels.
- Is it even a party without a giant cheeseball begging attention? Grill back bacon till nice and crisp and break up into small pieces. Combine with soft cheese (we like a mix of cream cheese and goat’s chevre – and don’t use lite versions!), some grated cheddar, finely chopped cornichons, dill, and Sicilian green olives, a couple of teaspoons of Jenny’s Kitchen Tamarind Chutney, and a grinding of pepper and pink salt. Chill until pliable, form into a nice big ball and roll in a generous amount of fresh dukkah to coat. Chill again until ready to serve.
When using bacon as a wrap (the loveliest blanket!) first lay the rashers on your chopping board and run the back of a knife along it to gently stretch it out – it will then ‘cling’ well and crisp up wonderfully.
The Ultimate Kiwi Mince
An iso-meal (or many) of mince on toast sparked the curiosity of our friends at Hawke’s Bay’s First Light Farms, and got them thinking they’d like to craft a homage to a product that many of us will always consider a staple. They had the mince-spiration to take a simple product and keep it simple – with a difference. Using whole cuts – no off-cuts, First Light married both their Wagyu beef and their venison with Freedom Farms bacon, to create The Ultimate Kiwi Mince.
Grass-fed Wagyu brings its nutty sweetness, free-range venison its signature earthy richness, and bacon raised the Freedom way shoulders on in, bringing a welcome hint of umami smokiness. A delicious trinity of proteins, wrapped up in home-compostable packaging.
Over on The Spinoff last week, we shared a bunch of delicious ways to use The Ultimate Kiwi Mince.
Here at Freedom Farms, we’re chuffed by the recent High Court ruling that farrowing crates are unlawful.
While we would like to think that on the positive side, this will ultimately lead to fewer mother pigs spending long periods confined, it also gives rise to significant concern – with imported pork not subject to the same scrutiny, there will still be a (very large) proportion of pork on our shop shelves that does not come from pigs cared for under the principles we expect to see locally.
Currently more than half of the pork consumed in Aotearoa comes from offshore, where our regulations and guidelines do not apply. With country of origin labelling not yet compulsory – and when it does come into play next June, a bit murky when it comes to some cured pork products – it can be difficult to ascertain the origins of a cut of pork, or pack of bacon or sausages.
We know that, like you, vast numbers of New Zealanders want very much to buy meat that is farmed here, and farmed humanely. That many of us want to buy meat we feel good about eating. Looking for information on packaging that confirms those facts is the only way to be sure.
Everything with a Freedom Farms label on it is guaranteed to have been raised with the Five Freedoms, on one of eight independently audited farms but you already knew that, right?! If more shoppers and eaters can be encouraged to ask questions to retailers, manufacturers, and eating establishments about where their pork has come from, we hope it will lead to a clearer understanding all-round.