8. Chop chop!

Check out our how-to guide for juicy pork chops and meet the makers of our favourite new piece of kitchen equipment…

8. Chop chop!

Kia ora Freedom whānau!

Welcome to our May edition of The Omnivore… we hope you are enjoying hearing from us each month.

We’ve been having some good conversations in our office this week about the long-overdue labelling changes that have the potential to untangle some of the web of confusion at your local grocery store. We’re (im)patiently awaiting the final word on what Country of Origin labelling will look like when it comes into effect later on this year… as things stand currently, we reckon there will still be too many loopholes that will mean it’s still tough to figure out where some pork products really come from.

NZ Pork have started a petition asking Consumer Affairs Minister David Clark to tidy things up… you can sign the petition to add your voice to help ensure that all pork is covered under the new rules.

We hope that you are enjoying the crisper mornings and cooler evenings as much as we are!

Happy eating,

Anna, Hilary, Gregor and Cameron

If you’re not familiar with Freedom Farms… we’re a 100% NZ-owned company that set out over a decade ago to bring you bacon farmed the Freedom way… from NZ farmers who care about the same things we do. Simply put, that is farming that is kinder for farm animals, and takes it easy on the environment. When you buy our bacon, eggs, pork, sausages and ham you are supporting a wonderful little group of NZ farmers… and for that we’re really really grateful!

Choice chops

Selected and cooked well, a pork chop offers loads of flavour, and of course plenty of luscious fat begging to be crisped in a cast-iron pan. Here are some of our top tips for nailing pork chop perfection at home:

  • Consider a brine. Soaking chops in salted water helps penetrate the flesh with moisture and flavour. Even just 30 minutes will do the trick, although an hour or more is best to infuse any flavours you add to the brine. Simply dissolve sea salt in warm water – enough to have it tasting like the sea. Add aromatics if you like – fennel seed, rosemary, sage, peppercorns or Sichuan peppercorns, allspice, juniper berries, lemongrass, ginger. Submerge chops in this liquid and leave to infuse, then pat dry before cooking.
  • Rub seasoning and olive oil into the flesh and all over the layer of fat on your chops, and leave to infuse for a time (even overnight if you can) before cooking. (If you’re brining, however, you’d skip this step.)
  • You may also like to marinate chops overnight. Go lightly on sweet inclusions like honey, brown sugar, maple syrup, as they can burn when cooking in the pan and turn bitter.
  • Generally speaking pan frying is the easiest and most reliable way to ensure juicy chops, lovely and crisp round the fatty edges. A heavy pan works best – we’re fans of cast iron, which you can read all about below!
  • Other cooking methods aren’t off the cards, though. On the barbecue, in the oven, or in your own fireplacethe key is keeping them juicy and not overcooking them.
  • Starting chops in the pan to render some fat out and get them crisping, then transferring to the oven to finish cooking can work wonders. We love the golden crisp-crumbed, succulent look of these babies by The Kiwi Country Girl.

We 🖤 cast iron cooking!

Throw as many other pans at us as you like, but we’d pick a good quality cast iron pan for most tasks… especially where cooking pork is concerned. Cast iron aces the Maillard reaction – the chemical change that takes place when meat browns, which boosts the flavour.

We recently moved into a new office with a huge, brand-new kitchen – then came the fun of selecting the right cookware to use in it… after all, we do a lot of recipe testing here at Freedom Farms HQ! When it came to choosing a cast iron pan, we were captivated by the brand story of Ironclad Pan Company. Founders Kate Slavin, Levi Slavin, and Joe Carter craft their Legacy cast iron skillets right here in Aotearoa using local materials. Their pans are seriously built to last, arriving with a 100 year guarantee as well as access to an online ‘recipe vault’ with chef-created recipes both savoury and sweet (pan-cooked brownie – yes please!) We had a chat to Joe Carter about what makes the brand tick…

Where did the inspiration to craft cast iron skillets come from?

Levi and Kate had a set of pans they had inherited. Each daily use was a reminder of their family. And when family recipes were prepared in the original skillets—splashing oil where family members had splashed oil, carefully placing fish where they had placed fish—something magical seemed to happen... a connection through time. Kate, a designer by trade, began to sketch designs for a new skillet, and the idea was born.

Why the decision to manufacture here in NZ?

We wanted to create a sustainable product that would be a return to beautiful craft and traditional techniques. We didn’t know how difficult this would be in Aotearoa… turns out making cast iron products is really, really hard! And nobody else was making them here. But like the recipes you make at home, we wanted each family heirloom to have an element of uniqueness. This is why every Ironclad pan is hand-poured and hand-finished using the highest quality T100 grade iron.

What’s so great about cast iron?

We want New Zealanders (and the world) to shop well and buy once. A cast iron skillet is the last pan you’ll ever buy. While making small runs of products isn’t commercially savvy, it is better for the planet. You can use cast iron on any cooking surface (yes, including induction!), and you can use it up to way higher temperatures than regular cookware. But the main thing is the health benefits – for humans and the planet. We (and the earth) aren’t absorbing forever chemicals that you’ll traditionally find in non-stick cookware.

The delivery process is something to behold – we loved our email updates telling us about our pan being melted down and forged in the foundry. Your pans arrive unseasoned, with instructions for customers to season them at home. Tell us why that is.

Thank you! We didn’t realise it was theatrical. We just thought it’s what brands should be doing – caring about the people who will be using their products!

We wanted to avoid any nasty chemicals, dyes or enamel that are so often involved in the production process of cast iron cookware – all things that shouldn’t end up in our food. We provide customers with a sample of grapeseed oil (which has one of the highest smoke points), to use in the seasoning process. We wanted people to have the option to flavour their pan to their own family’s taste, from the very beginning.

Joe’s cast iron care tips:

Once you’ve seasoned your pan it’s super easy to maintain!

  • After each use, scrub the skillet with water (no dish soap!), dry it well, and spread a small amount of oil on the cooking surface.
  • Iron is naturally non-stick, but if any stubborn bits stick, you don’t even need to worry about soaking the pan, just throw in some rock salt while you wash and with a bit of elbow grease those bits will lift and peel away
  • If you somehow let your pan go rusty, make a cuppa and repeat the original pre-seasoning process to bring it back to life.
Joe and the team have generously given us a promo code to share with you for a sidewise discount of 10%! Enter FREEDOMFARMS10 to get your discount at ironcladpan.com

Miss Polly’s Kitchen keeps it juicy

Thanks to our friends at The Spinoff we’ve been introduced to the wonderful world of recipes by Polly Markus, aka @Miss_Pollys_Kitchen on Instagram. Polly has been cooking some mighty tasty dishes using Freedom Farms products. First up, our simple-to-prepare pork tenderloin meets a vibrant and aromatic red curry sauce. You can also watch Polly’s video of the recipe.

With another couple of recipes to come in the series, we’re excited to see what Polly makes next!

Five good things…

1/ One taste of Viavio’s mascarpone and we had to put everything on hold to turn out a totally bomb tiramisù. Made in Nelson using local A2 milk, Viavio cheeses are the brainchild of Roman ex-pats Flavia and Flavio (see what they did there with the brand name?) who brought ‘cheesemaster’ Nicola on board to ensure all their products are a taste sensation. They’ve won a truck load of awards, and we are keen to taste our way through all their products. We’ll be posting our go-to tiramisù recipe on our channels soon.

2/ Okay, not technically a food... but it smells good enough to eat, and it’s made by our friends at Heilala Vanilla, who turn everything they touch to gold. Bioblume brightening facial oil, made with VanilleActiv2, is like a dessert for your skin: pampering, pleasing, and topping up your joy levels for another day.

3/ There’s only so much cooking contest and celebrity chef content one can take, so East Side Sushi (currently on Amazon Prime Video NZ), an indie film released in 2014, is the perfect antidote. A slow-burning, heart-warming tale of Juana, a young Mexican immigrant working-class solo-mother in Oakland, California, who defies the odds to train as a sushi chef. A classic tale of never giving up, through the delicious and aesthetic lens of sushi.

4/ This Spinoff article is a useful 101 on the government’s recently released 2021 Our Land report…  if you want to start getting your head around the ‘houses vs food’ phenomenon (particularly pertinent in parts of Auckland we’ve long relied on as our food bowl and where horticultural land has been rezoned as suitable for housing).

5/ BBC web series Follow the Food sees James Wong presenting 20 something-minute episodes examining where our food comes from and how we might solve the challenges of feeding the planet’s population.